The court system includes regular courts (both criminal and civil), special security courts, military courts, and tribal courts. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, as the senior judge, presides over the judiciary and according to the 1973 constitution, is directly responsible to the president through a council headed by the president. Civil justice is administered by the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and lower courts, while criminal justice is administered by major courts, magistrates' courts, and local people's courts.
As of 20 January 1991, the now defunct Revolutionary Command Council imposed Islamic law in the northern states. For Muslims, justice in personal matters such as domestic relations and probate, is administered by Muslim law courts, which form the Shari'ah Division of the Sudan judiciary. The Shari'ah Division includes a court of appeal, high courts, and qadis' courts. The president of the Shari'ah judiciary is the grand qadi.
The judiciary remains largely subservient to the government. In 1989 the National Salvation Revolution Command Council (RCC) placed responsibility for supervision of the judiciary with the Ministry of Justice. The 1989 Special Courts Act created three-person security courts to handle offenses involving violations of constitutional decrees, emergency regulations and some sections of the Penal Code. A 1993 decree dissolving the RCC gave the NIF-dominated transitional National Assembly the power to issue constitutional decrees.