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Powers of the Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court was established on January 28, 1950, two days after India became the Sovereign Democratic Republic. The inauguration took at the Parliament building’s Chamber of Princes, which also houses India’s Parliament and incorporates the Council of States and the House of the People.

When it comes to the powers of the supreme court of India, it is the most powerful common law court in the legal system. The Indian Constitution established it in 1950 with eight judges. The size and structure of the Court have evolved drastically over time, and currently, there are 31 seats available.

It hears around 60,000 appeals and petitions yearly and issues about 1,000 judgements. Judges usually sit on two or three benches, except for larger benches (which are becoming increasingly rare). All courts’ decisions are binding on all lower courts in India.

Powers of the Supreme Court of India

The Supreme court—the country’s apex court, is entrusted with the powers of judicial review. Apart from the high courts, the supreme court is also responsible for resolving disputes through appeals. Now, to understand the scope of functioning of the apex court, let’s discuss the powers of the supreme court of India:-

  • The first and foremost power of the supreme court of India is safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens and aliens through the power of judicial review.
  • Addressing and resolving the cases taken up as an appeal against the orders of the high courts of various states under its appellate jurisdiction(Article 133-136)
  • It can settle the disputes arising between various state governments, between the central and state governments or between various government authorities under its original jurisdiction(Article 131)
  • It entertains the cases referred to it by the President of India for seeking advice; it plays an advisory role in such matters under its advisory jurisdiction(Article 143)
  • One of the powers of the supreme court of India is that it can take up matters on its own by taking suo moto cognisance.
  • The decisions of the supreme courts are binding on all the subordinate courts throughout the country.
  • A person whose fundamental right is getting violated can seek the supreme court by filing writs under its writ jurisdiction(Article 32).

Although the Supreme Court’s decisions are based on lower court judgments or decrees, including those of the High Courts, the Court has lately begun to hear cases concerning the general public’s interests.

Any individual or individual group can file a Writ Petition with the court and write to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India highlighting the issue of ‘Public Interest Litigation’ resulted in several landmark decisions involving concerns of public importance. The concept is unique to the Supreme Court of India, and no other court in the world has likely exercised this exceptional power.

A Writ Petition submitted at the Filing Counter is treated and processed the same way as any other Writ Petition. A letter addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is handled following established guidelines.

Functions of Supreme Court

Original jurisdiction

Article 131 of the Indian Consitution describes original jurisdiction.

The court addresses the conflicts between the Union and the states, the Government of India and state governments, or two or more states by exercising its original jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over such matters, which means they can be brought before it directly and no other court. But the suits by a private party against governments cannot be entertained.

Writ jurisdiction

A person can approach the apex court directly under its writ jurisdiction by filing writs under Article 32 of the constitution of India. The supreme court has the powers to question the subordinate courts or actions of government authorities under its writ jurisdiction. These writs are:-

  • Habeas corpus
  • Certiorari
  • Mandamus
  • Quo warranto
  • Prohibition

Appellate jurisdiction

The Supreme Court is a court entrusted with appellate powers. When a person is unsatisfied with the decision of the subordinate court, he is entitled to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The power of the supreme court to entertain appeals is exercised only in particular instances:-

  • That the case has a substantial question of law
  • That In the opinion of the high court, the supreme court must decide the case
  • That the case is certified by the high court to be fit for appeal to the supreme court

Appeal by special leave

When an issue of justice gets implicated, the Supreme Court may interfere in the ruling of the High Court or tribunals through special leave. The Supreme Court has these residuary powers under Article 136 of the constitution of India.

Advisory jurisdiction

In some cases, the President has the authority to refer a case to the Supreme Court to seek advice on some issues. The President may believe that the subject involves an important point of law for the public interest, in which case he should seek suggestions from the Supreme Court.

Court of record

The functioning of the Supreme Court’s proceedings is videotaped and published as case laws. The decisions of the court are kept as a record for future reference. The decisions laid by the apex court is referred to as “ratio decidendi”, and the same is binding on every subordinate court in the country.

Conclusion

Whatever the rest of the judiciary does, the role of judges in the Supreme Court of India has clearly defined the Court structure in the Indian Constitution. The powers of the supreme court of India mainly govern its functioning and set standards of prescribed procedure to seek justice from the highest judicial body of the country.

Understanding how judges and litigants navigate the system also the environment in which the law and the Constitution are eventually understood and realised in India requires mapping this more significant architecture.

FAQ

When was the Supreme Court established?

The Supreme Court of India was established on January 28, 1950, after two days of independence.

Who is the Chief Justice of India?

Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana is the 48th Cheif Justice of India.

Which Article of the Indian Constitution mentions the powers of the Supreme Court?

Article129 of the Indian Constitution prescribes all the powers of the apex court.

What are the essential Jurisdictions of the Supreme Court of India?

Original, Advisory, and Appellate are the Jurisdictions of the Supreme Court.

In which Article Establishment and Constitution of Supreme Court?

Article 124 of the Indian Constitution mentions the Establishment and Constitution of the Supreme Court.

About Author

I am a law final year student and an aspirant for Company Secretary (CS) who is keenly interested in Company law and other commercial laws.

I have cracked the first level of the CSEET exam & also I have written a couple of research papers, articles, and blogs few of them got published.

I have worked under a few law firms and gained practical experience in the field of company law, civil law, and criminal law. In my previous internship, I assisted different company & consumer disputes and helped the counsel in researching and drafting.

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