Zunheboto is the home of the Sumi Nagas. The Sumis are considered to be the martial tribe among the Nagas. The term Zunheboto is derived from the Sumi words ‘zunhebo’ the name of a flowering shrub which grows abundantly in the region, and ‘to’or ‘ato’ meaning a hill-top. The town was built on the top of the rolling hills and hence the name ‘Zunhebo-to’ or Zunheboto. The district is situated in the heart of Nagaland and is bounded by Mokokchung district in the East and Wokha district in the West.

Earlier under the Rules for Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland, 1937 there was prevalence of a unique judicial system where both civil and criminal justice was delivered through Customary Courts manned by Dobashis and village elders. Under these Rules, the Deputy Commissioner and his Assistants were empowered to exercise judicial powers. The erstwhile Office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Judicial) established in the year 1986, largely functioned as the head of the judiciary in the district. Consequent upon the separation of the Judiciary from the Executive on 1st January 2007, the post of Additional Deputy Commissioner (J) was re-designated to that of Additional District and Sessions Judge and was placed under the administrative control of the Gauhati High Court. On 12-12-2013, a full-fledged District & Sessions Judge was posted at Zunheboto. Presently, there are two Judicial Officers posted in the district viz., a District & Sessions Judge and a Civil Judge (Junior) exercising the powers of a Judicial Magistrate First Class.