Supreme Court Of India

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Under the Act of 1935, for the first time, an all-India court called the Federal Court of India was set up. With the coming into force of the Indian Constitution, the Federal Court of India was substituted or replaced by the Supreme Court of India on 28 January 1950.

The Supreme Court of India at the apex of the Indian Judiciary is the highest authority to uphold the constitution of India, to protect the rights and liberties of the citizens, and the highest court of final appeals in India. Therefore, the Supreme Court of India is known as the “Guardian of the Constitution” and is also called the interpreter of the Constitution. Under Article 32, it is made the protector of the Fundamental Rights embodied in the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court of India is located in Tilak Marg, Delhi.

COMPOSITION

Article 124 of the Indian Constitution states that there shall be a Supreme Court of India. When the Supreme Court was inaugurated in 1950, it had only 8 judges (one Chief Justice and seven other Judges). And then number of judges grew and presently, it has a total of 34 Judges including one Chief Justice. The parliament has the power to change the number of judges of the Supreme Court of India.

APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES OF SUPREME COURT, CHIEF JUSTICE AND ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE

The judges of the Supreme Court of India are appointed by the President of India after consulting the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court of India in the states. The other judges are appointed by the President after consulting the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and while appointing the Chief Justice of India, the President Consults other judges or some of them. The senior judge of the Supreme Court is appointed as Chief Justice.

The acting Chief Justice is appointed in case the office of the Chief Justice is vacant or he is unable to perform his duties for some reason. In this case, also, the senior judge is appointed as Acting Chief Justice till the new Chief Justice is appointed.

QUALIFICATION FOR THE JUDGES OF SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

The Constitution lays down some criteria or guidelines which has to be fulfilled by the judges to become a judge of the Supreme Court of India.

  1. He must be a citizen of India.
  2. He has been for at least 5 years as a judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession.
  3. He has been an advocate of a High Court for at least 10 years.
  4. He must be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President of India.

TERM OR TENURE: No minimum age is mentioned in the appointment of either the judge of the Supreme Court or any fixed period of office. Once appointed, he holds office until he attains the age of 65 years.

REMOVAL OF JUDGES OF SUPREME COURT

The judges of the Supreme Court can be removed from his office in the following points.

i. On the ground of proven misbehavior or incapacity.

ii. A judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from his office by an order of the President only when an address is passed by both Houses of Parliament.

iii. Such a resolution in the Parliament should be passed by a majority of the total membership of not less than two-thirds of members present and voting.

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA: POWERS AND FUNCTIONS

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India is categorized into Original Jurisdiction, Appellate Jurisdiction, and Advisory Jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of India has also been vested with other powers.

1. Original Jurisdiction: This jurisdiction extends to cases originating in the Supreme Court only and states that the Supreme Court of India has original and exclusive jurisdiction in cases between which means only the Supreme Court of India can hear and decide disputes:

a. Between the Union government and one or more states.

b. Between the Union Government and any states or states on one side and one or more states on the other.

c. Between two or more states.

Like the High Court of State, the Supreme Court also has the original jurisdiction in case of the violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 32. This means a person whose fundamental rights have been violated, may approach the Supreme Court or High Court for the enforcement of their rights.

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2. Appellate Jurisdiction: Under the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court comes an appeal against any judgment, decree, or final order of any High Court in India. Such appeal can be made either of the two conditions:

 i. With the certificate from the High Court: Any party in such a case may appeal to the Supreme Court because the case was misinterpreted when the High Court certifies in its findings that the relevant issue contains a major question of law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution.

ii. Without the certificate from the High Court: Sometimes, the High Court may not grant such a certificate. In such a case the Supreme Court, if it feels that the case involves a question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution may take up the case.

The appeal lies with the Supreme Court against the High Court in the following 3 categories.

a. Constitutional matter: The Supreme Court has a final say, so far as the interpretation of the Constitution is concerned. If the High Court certifies that a case contains a significant legal issue about the interpretation of the constitution, then the Court will consider that issue in its decision, then the Supreme Court can take up the case for consideration and final verdict. This is a very comprehensive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court involving the interpretation of the Constitution.

b. Civil matters: If the case involves a substantial question of law of general public importance and in the opinion of the High Court the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.

c. The Criminal matters: The Supreme Court can hear appeals from a High Court’s decision in a criminal case if the High Court;

i. On an appeal, a court reversed an acquittal order and sentenced an accused person to death.;

ii. Has taken any case from any subordinate (inferior) court and convicted the accused person and sentenced him to death or;

iii. Certifies that the case is suitable for appeal.

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3. Advisory Jurisdiction: The Constitution of India Article 143 authorizes the President to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court of India. Under the Constitution, the President may seek the opinion or advice of the Supreme Court of India on any question of law or fact of public importance and if it is necessary to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court, he may refer the question to the Supreme Court for consideration. On such reference from the President, the Supreme Court after giving it such hearing as it deems fits may report to the President its opinion thereon. The opinion is only advisory, which the President is free to follow or not follow.

4. Court of Record: The Supreme Court is called a court of Record because its decision binds all courts in India. High Court and Subordinate Courts use their decisions or judgments as laws and decide the cases before them. Records of the Supreme Court are admitted as final evidence and cannot be questioned when these are produced and referred to in any other court. The Supreme Court can punish anyone for the contempt of law.

5. Special leave to appeal: The Supreme Court can grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence, or order in any cause or matter passed by any court or tribunal in India. This means that any decision of any Court or tribunal can be challenged before the Supreme Court and it is in the discretion of the Supreme Court to hear such appeal. However, the Supreme Court cannot grant special leave against the decision of the Military Court or Tribunal.

6. Power to Review its judgment: The Supreme Court has the power to review its own decision. At any time it can change or revise its earlier judgment. This means that the Supreme Court is not bound by its own judgment. In the future, if there are sufficient reasons to review its earlier verdicts, the Supreme Court may do so.

7. Power of Interpreting and Protecting the Constitution: The Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land. The court acts as the final interpreter and guardian of the Constitution. Supreme Court has the power to reject any law if it is found to be unconstitutional. It can determine the constitutionality of all laws which are challenged before, which is known as the power of Judicial Review.

Judicial Review is the power of the Supreme Court to determine or review the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of every lead and amendment passed by the government. The Supreme Court can reject any law or amendment that it finds to be violative of any provision of the constitution of India or the fundamental rights of the people.

8. Jurisdiction in respect of Fundamental Rights: The Supreme Court has the power to issue orders or writs for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights of the people. Anyone can approach or move to the Supreme Court or High Court if their rights are violated. The enforcement of the right to approach the Court is given under Article 32 (Right to Constitutional Remedies) of the Indian Constitution.

It can be concluded that the Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial authority and has a broad range of jurisdiction and substantial powers and tasks that it can exercise in matters of public interest. It is the guardian of the individual’s Fundamental Rights and interprets the Constitution’s provision via its grand vision. It ensures social and economic justice for Indian citizens and enacts a law that is undeniable and binding on all other courts.

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