The Supreme Court of India
The highest court of Justice in the country is the Supreme Court. It now consists of the Chief Justice and 25 other Judges. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Judges of the Supreme Court. The President appoints the other Judges of the Supreme Court in consultation with the Chief Justice.
- The salaries of the Judges have been fixed under the Second Schedule and these shall not be varied to their disadvantages after their appointment.
- The administrative expenses of the Supreme Court, including pay and allowances of the Judges and their staff, are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
- These expenses are not subject to Parliamentary Vote.
- The President has to consult, among others, the Chief Justice or the Judges of the Supreme Court while appointing the Judges or the chief Justice of India, as the case may be.
- This ensures appointment of Judges with independent bent of mind.
- A Supreme Court Judge cannot be removed by the President except on a joint address by both Houses of Parliament on ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity of Judge in question.
- Discussion of the conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court (or a High Court) in Parliament is forbidden except in a case when a motion has already been introduced to remove the Judge.
- After retirement, a Supreme Court Judge shall not plead or act in any Court or before any authority in the country.
- There are analogous provision in the case of High Court Judges.
- (a) a citizen of India
- (b) a judge of a High Court of not less than five years’ standing or an advocate of ten years’ standing in a High Court or an eminent jurist.
The Supreme Court is empowered to decide all disputes between the Union and one or more States.
Under Article 32 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can enforce fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
It is empowered to issue directions or orders of writs including those in the nature of writs of have as corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quowarranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, to enforce the fundamental rights.
- (i) The Supreme Court hears appeals from any judgement passed by a High Court and which involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
- (ii) The appeals for civil and criminal cases arising from the judgements of High Courts lie with the Supreme Court. However in case of a civil suit appeal, the case must involve a substantial question of law of general importance.
- (iii) It has jurisdiction over all courts and tribunals in India and can grant special leave to appeal against any judgement made by these courts and tribunals.
The President can seek the opinion of Supreme Court on important questions of law and fact. The Supreme Court shall have the power to make rules for its working, subject to the laws made by the parliament in this regard. The minimum number of Judges to decide an issue involving the interpretation of the constitution or any Presidential reference is five.
Judicial Review, as emphasised in the Indian Constitution, reprensents the competence of the Supreme Court to act as the guardian and protector of fundamental rights as also the institutions which are set up under the Constitution. The Judiciary, in other words, has been assigned the role of preventing the executive and the legislature from violating the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizen. It has the power to nullify an executive order or an Act passed by the Parliament or by a State legislature, by declaring in ultra vires of the Constitution or an act as not authorized by law.
The Constitution provides for the appointment by the President of a person who is qualified to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court to be Attorney-General for India. The Attorney-Genral holds office during the pleasure of the President. He gives expert legal advice to the Government of India and performs such duties of legal character as are assigned to him. He has right of audience in all courts in India and can take part in the proceedings of either House of Parliament but he is not entitled to vote.