Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India supreme court of india

The Supreme Court of India is the apex court of the country with the power of judicial review and it is the final court of appeal for justice under the Constitution of India. India is a federal state and has a single and unified judicial system with a three-tier structure, namely the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Subordinate Courts.

Brief Background of Supreme Court

  • With the enforcement of the Regulating Act of the year 1773, the Supreme Court of Judicature was established in Calcutta as a Court of Record with full power and authority.
  • In Bengal, Bihar and Orissa it was established to hear and dispose of complaints of all offenses and to hear and dispose of any suits or actions.
  • The Supreme Courts in Madras and Bombay were established by George III in the year 1800 and 1823 respectively.
  • Under the High Courts of India Act 1861, High Courts were established in various provinces and Supreme Courts in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay and Sadar Adalats in Presidency cities were abolished.
  • These High Courts had the distinction of being the Supreme Court for all matters till the establishment of the Federal Court of India under the Government of India Act 1935.
  • The Federal Court had jurisdiction to resolve disputes between the provinces and the federal states, and to hear appeals against the decisions of the High Courts.
  • After India got independence in the year 1947, the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950. Simultaneously the Supreme Court of India also came into existence and its first meeting was held on 28 January 1950.
  • The law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all the courts of India.
  • It has the power of judicial review - the power to annul legislative and governmental action contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and the constitutional method, the distribution of power between the Union and the States or the review of provisions against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

constitutional provision

  • The provision of the Supreme Court has been made in the Indian Constitution under Part V (Union) and Chapter 6 (Union Judiciary).
  • Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the organisation, independence, jurisdiction, powers and procedures of the Supreme Court.
  • The Constitution of India under Article 124(1) states that there shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice (CJI) and not more than seven other judges unless Parliament by law determines a larger number of other judges. does.
  • The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India can generally be classified into original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction and advisory jurisdiction. However, the Supreme Court has many other powers.

Organization of the Supreme Court

  • At present there are 31 judges (one Chief Justice and thirty other judges) in the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Bill 2019 was increased by four judges. It increased the judicial power from 31 to 34 including the Chief Justice.
  • Originally, the number of judges in the Supreme Court was fixed at eight (one Chief Justice and seven other judges).
  • Parliament is empowered to regulate them.

Supreme Court Location

  • The Constitution declares Delhi to be the seat of the Supreme Court. It empowers the Chief Justice to appoint any other place or more than one place as the seat of the Supreme Court.
  • He can take a decision in this regard only with the approval of the President. This provision is only optional, not mandatory. This means that no court can direct the President or the Chief Justice to appoint the Supreme Court at any other place.

appointments of judges

  • The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President. If the President considers it necessary, the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are consulted for the appointment of the Chief Justice.
  • Other judges are appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice and such other judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, if he considers it necessary. In the case of appointment of a judge other than the Chief Justice, consultation with the Chief Justice is mandatory.
  • Appointment of the Chief Justice from 1950 to 1973: It has been a tradition to appoint the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as the Chief Justice of India. This tradition was violated in the year 1973 when AN Ray was appointed as the Chief Justice of India, barring three senior judges. This was again violated in the year 1977 when, barring the then 10 senior most judges, M.U. Baig was appointed as the Chief Justice of India.
    • This autonomy of the government was annulled by the Supreme Court in the Second Judge Case (1993), in which the Supreme Court ruled that only the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court should be appointed as the Chief Justice of India.

Controversy over the consultation and collegium system

  • The Supreme Court has interpreted the word 'consultation' differently in the following provisions.
    • In the First Judge case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean consent and it only means exchange of views.
    • In the Second Judge case (1993), the Court overturned its earlier decision and changed the word consultation to mean consent.
    • In the case of the Third Judges (1998), the Court held that the consultation process to be followed by the Chief Justice of India required 'combined consultation of the judges'.
  • The sole opinion of the Chief Justice does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court. If even two judges give an opposite opinion, he should not send a recommendation for appointment to the government.
    • The Court held that the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of India without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the Government.

Collegium System

  • The collegium system was introduced through the 'Third Judge Case' and is in practice since the year 1998. It is used for appointment and transfer of judges in High Courts and Supreme Court.
  • There is no mention of collegium in the original constitution of India or in the amendments.

Collegium System and Functioning of NJAC (National Judicial Appointments Commission)

The collegium proposes the names of lawyers or judges to the central government. Similarly, the central government also sends some of its proposed names to the collegium.

  • The collegium considers the names or suggestions proposed by the central government and sends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the collegium sends the same names again, then the government will have to give its consent to those names but there is no time limit to respond. This is the reason why the appointment of judges takes a long time.
  • The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act (NJAC) was established through the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.
  • However, the Supreme Court upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional on the ground that the participation of the political executive in judicial appointments was against the "principles of the basic structure" i.e. "independence of the judiciary".

Qualifications of Judges

  • A person to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court should possess the following qualifications:
    • He should be a citizen of India.
    • He must have been a Judge of a High Court (or more than one successive Court) for at least five years, or
    • He must have been an advocate of a High Court (or more than one High Court in succession) for ten years, or
    • He should be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President.
  • There is no minimum age prescribed in the constitution for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court.

Oath or Affirmation

  • A Judge appointed to the Supreme Court shall, before assuming his office, take the following oath before the President or a person appointed by the President for this function that I-
    • Will have true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India;
    • I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India;
    • To the best of my ability, knowledge and discretion, I will perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or malice;
    • I will uphold the Constitution and the law.

Tenure of Judges

  • The constitution has not fixed the tenure of a Supreme Court judge. However, the following three provisions have been made in this regard:
    • He can remain in office till the age of 65 years. In the event of any question arising in his case, it shall be determined by an institution established by Parliament.
    • He can resign from office by giving a written resignation to the President.
    • He can be removed from office by the President on the recommendation of the Parliament.

expel judges

  • A judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from office by order of the President. The President can issue an order for his removal only if such an address has been made by the Parliament in the same session for such removal.
  • This order must be supported by a special majority of both the members of the Parliament (ie a majority of the total membership of the House and two-thirds of the members present and voting in the House). The grounds for his removal must be misbehavior or incapacity.
  • The Judges Inquiry Act (1968) provides for the process of impeachment in relation to the removal of judges of the Supreme Court—
    • So far, no judge of the Supreme Court has been impeached. The impeachment motions of Justice V Ramaswamy (1991–1993) and Justice Dipak Misra (2017–18) were not passed in Parliament.

pay and allowances

  • The salaries, allowances, privileges, leave and pension of the judges of the Supreme Court are determined by the Parliament from time to time. These cannot be deducted after appointment except in financial emergency.

acting chief justice

  • The President may appoint a Judge of the Supreme Court to be the Acting Chief Justice of India when:
    • The post of Chief Justice should be vacant.
    • The Chief Justice is temporarily absent.
    • The Chief Justice is unable to discharge his duties.

ad hoc judge

  • When there is a shortage of quorum of permanent judges to hold or continue any session of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India appoints a Judge of a High Court as an ad-hoc judge of the Supreme Court for a temporary period. Can do. He can do so only after consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court and with the full consent of the President.
  • The judge who is appointed must be eligible for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court. It is the duty of an ad-hoc judge to give more priority to attending the meetings of the Supreme Court than his other duties. While doing so, he enjoys all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges (and abdication) of a Supreme Court judge.

retired judge

  • The Chief Justice of India may at any time request a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Judge of a High Court (who is eligible for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court) to serve as a Judge of the Supreme Court for a temporary period. Do the work
  • This can be done only with the prior consent of the person to be appointed and the President.
    • Such a judge is eligible to receive such allowances as may be prescribed by the President. He shall have the same adjudication, powers and privileges like other judges of the Supreme Court but he shall not be deemed to be a judge of the Supreme Court.

court process

  • The Supreme Court, with the approval of the President, can make rules to regulate the operation and procedure of the Court.
  • Constitutional matters or references are determined by the President under Article 143 and decided by a Division Bench consisting of not less than five judges. All other matters are usually decided by a three-judge bench. These decisions are given by open court. All decisions are taken by majority vote, but if there are differing opinions, judges can give a decision or opinion that disagrees with each other.

independence of supreme court

  • The Supreme Court is a federal court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, the guarantor of the fundamental rights of citizens and the custodian of the Constitution.
    • Therefore, its independence becomes very necessary for the effective discharge of the duties assigned to it. It should be free from encroachment, pressure and interference by the Executive (Council of Ministers) and the Legislature (Parliament). It should be given the freedom to do justice without any fear or favour.
  • The Constitution has made the following provisions to safeguard and ensure the free and fair functioning of the Supreme Court:
    • mode of appointment
    • security of tenure
    • fixed service conditions
    • Expenditure from Consolidated Fund
    • Judges' conduct cannot be debated
    • Prohibition on advocacy after retirement
    • power to punish for contempt
    • Freedom to appoint your own staff
    • Its jurisdiction cannot be deducted
    • separate from the executive

Powers and Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

original jurisdiction

  • As a federal court, the Supreme Court adjudicates disputes between different units of the Indian Union. In more detail, it decides any dispute between-
    • between the Center and one or more states, or
    • Center and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other side, or
    • between two or more states
  • The Supreme Court has exclusive original, jurisdiction over the above federal disputes.
  • The following are not included in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court:
    • Any dispute arising out of any previous constitutional treaty, agreement, covenant, sanad and other institutions.
    • Any dispute arising out of a treaty, agreement, etc., which provides that the relevant jurisdiction is not related to that dispute.
    • Interstate water dispute.
    • Matters with reference to the Finance Commission.
    • Agreement between the Center and the states regarding expenditure and pension.
    • A simple dispute of commercial nature between the Center and the States.
    • Compensation of any loss of the state against the Centre.

Writ Jurisdiction

  • The Supreme Court is empowered to protect the fundamental rights of the deranged citizens by issuing orders on habeas corpus, mandamus, inducement, prohibition and entitlement etc.
    • The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in this regard is in the sense that an aggrieved citizen can directly approach the Supreme Court, not necessarily through a petition.
    • However, the judgment of the Supreme Court is not a prerogative of jurisdiction. High Courts are also empowered to issue writs for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

Appellate Jurisdiction

  • The Supreme Court is primarily a court of appeal and hears appeals against the decisions of lower courts. It enjoys a wide appellate jurisdiction which can be classified under four heads:
    • Appeal in constitutional matters
    • Appeal in civil matters
    • Appeal in criminal cases
    • Appeal by special leave

Advisory Jurisdiction

  • The Constitution under Article 143 empowers the President to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court in two categories of matters:
    • When a question of law arises or is likely to arise on a matter of public importance.
    • In case of any dispute arising out of any prior constitutional treaty, agreement, covenant etc.

Court of Record

  • As a court of records, the Supreme Court has two powers-
    • The judgments, proceedings and judgments of the Supreme Court are recorded in the form of everlasting record and evidence and cannot be questioned during the ongoing cases in any other court.
    • These records are accepted as legal references
    • They have the power to punish for contempt of court, which can be simple imprisonment for 6 months or fine which may extend to 2000 rupees or both.

power of judicial review

  • Judicial review The Supreme Court has the power to examine the constitutionality of legislative acts and executive orders of both the central and state governments.
    • If they are found to be violators of the constitution (ultra-viruses), they can be declared illegal, unconstitutional and invalid (balit and void) by the Supreme Court. As a result, they cannot be implemented by the government.

Current Cases in Supreme Court

  • Master of Rooster: The constitution of benches to hear cases refers to the prerogative of the Chief Justice.
    • Controversy has arisen in the Supreme Court regarding the absolute power of the Chief Justice over judicial administration.
    • The Supreme Court has said several times that "the Chief Justice is the master of the roster and he alone has the prerogative to constitute the benches of the court and to allocate cases to the benches so constituted".
    • Be it the Chief Justice of India or the Chief Justice of any High Court, he is the head of the administrative side. It also includes allocation of cases before the judge.
  • Therefore, unless the cases are allotted by the Chief Justice of India, no judge can take up the cases on his own.


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