Prelims-2016 (Polity Session)-Supreme Court in India

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Appointment of Supreme Court Judge in India

  • The Supreme court Judges in India are appointed by the President on the advice of his Council of Ministers and in consultation with such persons as he deems fit. In the appointment of the Chief Justice, the President consults such judges of the Supreme Court and High courts as he thinks necessary.

Qualification for appointment as a Supreme Court Judge

Article 124 (3) of the constitution prescribes that for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court a person must he
  • (a) a citizen of India,
  • (b) has been a judge of any High Court for at least 5 years, or
  • (c) has been an advocate in a High Court for 10 years or is in the opinion of the President a distinguished jurist.
There is no fixed tenure of service for a judge. He continues in service till the completion of 65th year of age.

Vacancy of Post of Judge of Supreme Court inIndia

Article  124 (4) prescribes the methods how the post of a judge may fall vacant. These are
  • (a) retirement on completion of 65th year of age,
  • (b) resignation and
  • (c) removal through impeachment.

Removal of  Supreme Court Judge  in India

  • The framers of the constitution took great pains to ensure the independence of the Supreme Court judges. There is independence of Judiciary in India. Thus a judge may be removed only through impeachment. This is the only way for the removal of a judge. A judge may be impeached only on grounds of proved misbehavior and incapacity.
  • The salaries and allowances of a judge cannot be varied to his disadvantage except during a financial emergency under Article 360. The administrative expenses of the Supreme Court are changed on the revenues of India. Finally a judge may not engage in legal practice after retirement.

Powers and Functions of Supreme Court in India

  • The role and position of the Supreme Court is vital in the judicial and political system of India. The primary duty of the Supreme Court is to ascertain whether the laws are executed and obeyed properly and to see to it that no person is deprived of justice in any court of law.
  • With this purpose in view, the Supreme Court occupies the highest place in our unitary judicial system. Attempt has been made, as far as possible, to ensure its independence and achieve the goal of ensuring justice.
  • The Supreme Court has been equipped with enormous powers. By virtue of its place at the apex of the judicial pyramid, the Supreme Court acts as a great unifying force. We have seen that its decisions and verdicts are binding on any court in India. As a result, there is a good possibility of integration, consistency and cohesion in the entire judicial system of the country.

Role and Functions

The role and functions of the Supreme Court in our judicial and political system may be discussed under the following heads:
As a Federal Court: Supreme Court is the Federal Court of India, India being a federation; powers are divided between the Union and State governments. The Supreme Court of India is the final authority to see to it that the division of powers as specified in the constitution is obeyed by both the Union and the State governments. So, Article 131 of the Indian Constitution vests the Supreme Court with original and exclusive jurisdiction to determine the justiciable disputes between the Union and the States or between the States.
Interpreter of the Constitution and Law: The responsibility of interpreting the constitution rests on the Supreme Court. The interpretation of the constitution which the Supreme Court shall make must be accepted by all. It interprets the constitution and preserves it. Where a case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution either certified by the High Court or being satisfied by the Supreme Court itself, an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court for interpretation of the question of law raised.
As a Court of Appeal: The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal from all courts in the territory of India. Appeal lies to the Supreme Court of the cases involving interpretation of the constitution. Appeals in respect of civil and criminal cases also lie to the Supreme Court irrespective of any constitutional question.
Advisory Role: The Supreme Court has an advisory jurisdiction in offering its opinion an any question of law or fact of public importance as may be referred to it for consideration by the President.
Guardian of the Constitution: The Supreme Court of India is the guardian of the constitution. There are two points of significance of the Supreme Court’s rule as the protector and guardian of the constitution.
  • First, as the highest Federal Court, it is within the power and authority of the Supreme Court to settle any dispute regarding division of powers between the Union and the States.
  • Secondly, it is in the Supreme Court’s authority to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens.
In order to discharge these two functions it is sometimes necessary for the Supreme Court to examine or review the legality of the laws enacted by both the Union and the State Governments. This is known as the power of Judicial Review. Indian Supreme Court enjoys limited power of Judicial Review.
Writ Jurisdictions: Under Article 32 of the constitution of Supreme Court can issue Writs for the enforcement of fundamental rights. These writs are in the nature of Habeas Corpus, Mandamas, Prohibition, and Quo-warranto Certiorari.
Power of Judicial Review and Supreme Court: The power of the Judiciary to examine the validity of such law is called Judicial Review. The Supreme Court of India enjoys limited power of Judicial Review. Judicial Review empowers the courts to invalidate laws passed by the legislature. Supreme Court of India also enjoys the power of Judicial Review. If it occurs to the Supreme Court that any law enacted by Parliament or by a State Legislature curbs or threatens to curb the citizen’s fundamental rights, the Supreme Court may declare that law as unlawful or unconstitutional. If any law is inconsistent with the spirit or letter of the constitution and if the government oversteps the legal bounds, it is for the Supreme Court to see to it.

Jurisdiction of Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial organ. Therefore, it possesses very wide powers.
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may he classified under different heads:
  • Original Jurisdiction,
  • Appellate Jurisdiction,
  • Writ Jurisdiction and
  • Advisory Jurisdiction.

1. Original Jurisdiction:

The Supreme Court of India has exclusive original jurisdiction in any dispute:
1. Between the Government of India and one or more States or
2. Between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other; or
3. Between two or more States.

2. Appellate Jurisdiction:

  • The Supreme Court is the highest Appellate Court in India and as such it has an appellate jurisdiction over the State High Courts.
  • It hears appeals in constitutional, civil and criminal cases.


  • The powers relating to Constitutional matters are important power of Supreme Court.
  • In constitutional matters, the Supreme Court hears appeals from a State High Court, when the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.

Civil Jurisdiction:

The Supreme Court also hears appeals in civil case if a High Court certifies that:
1. The case has a great constitutional significance, or
2. The case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

Criminal Jurisdiction:

The Supreme Court has also the power to hear appeal in criminal cases from a State High Court if the High Court
  1. Has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or
  2. Certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

3. Writ Jurisdiction:

  • Under the Constitution of India, a person has the right to move the Supreme Court for the protection of his fundamental rights. And the Supreme Court may issue writs in the nature of mandamus, habeas copus, prohibition and quo­-warranto for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens conferred by Part III of the Constitution.

Advisory Jurisdiction:

  • The President of India has the power to refer important questions of law or fact to the Supreme Court for its opinion. And the Supreme Court may report to the President its opinion thereon.

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