The judiclary is an independent branch whose powers and responsibilities include administration and implementation of justice, supervision on the proper enforcement of the law, of the promotion of legitimate freedoms, protection of individual and public rights, providing due process for the resolution of judicial disputes, and investigation, prosecution, and punishment of criminals in accordance with the Islamic penal code. It is also incumbent upon the Judiciary branch to take adequate measures to prevent crime and to rehabilitate criminals.
The highest Judicial authority is a Justice well versed in judiciary affairs and skillful in the administration of justice. He is appointed by the Leader for a period of five years. The Ministry ofjustice is the official authority to which all grievances and complaints are referred. The Minister of justice is in charge of administrating the Ministry as well as coordinating the relationship between the Judiciary branch and the legislative and executive branches.
The courts are functionally classified according to their area of jurisdiction, civil or criminal, and according to the seriousness of the crime or the litigation, e.g., value of property under dispute or the level of punitive action involved. There are four civil courts: first level civil courts, second level civil courts, independent civil courts, and special civil courts. The latter attend to matters related to family laws and have jurisdiction over divorce and child custody. Criminal courts fall into two categories: first and second level criminal courts. The first level courts have jurisdiction over prosecution for felony charges, while the second level courts try cases that involve lighter punitive action.
In addition to the regular courts, which hear criminal and civil suits, the judiciary encompasses clerical tribunals, revolutionary tribunals, and the Court of Administrative justice. Clerical courts entrusted with the task of trying and punishing misdeeds by the clergy. Revolutionary tribunals are charged with the responsibility of hearing and trying charges of terrorism and offenses against national security. The Court of Administrative justice under the supervision of the head of the judicial branch is authorized to investigate any complaints or objections by people with respect to government officials, organs, and statues. The Constitution also requires the establishment of a Supreme Court with the task of supervising the implementation of laws by the courts and ensuring uniformity in Judicial procedures. The head of the judiciary, in consultation with the judges of the Supreme Court, nominates the Chief of the Supreme Court and the Attomey-General who, among other qualifications, must be specialists in Islamic Law.
The Constitution requires all trials to be open to the public unless the court determines that an open trial would be detrimental to public morality or public order, or in case of private disputes, if both parties request that open hearings not be held.