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 independence of the Judges of the Supreme Court is ensured by the following:
  • 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.

Qualifications of the Judges In order to be a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be
  • (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.

Term :  The Judge of the Supreme Court holds office till the age of 65 years. He can be removed only on the ground of proven misbehaviour. Both the Houses of Parliament will pass a motion to that effect by a two third majority of the members present and voting.  But this cannot be less than a majority of the total membership of the House.  After this, the President issues an order for the removal of the judge.

Salary and Allowances :  The Chief Justice draws a salary of Rs.33,000/- per month.  The salary of other Judges is Rs.30,000/- per month.  Every Judge is given a rent free official residence. The pay and allowances of judges are charged  on  the  Consolidated  Fund  of India. A retired Judge of the Supreme Court is debarred from practising in any Court of law or before any other authority in India.

Location :  The Supreme Court of India is located in New Delhi.

Jurisdiction :-  The Supreme Court has three kinds of jurisdiction, namely (i)  Original; (ii)  Appellate,  and (iii)  Advisory.

Original Jurisdiction
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.

Appellate Jurisdiction
  • (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.

Advisory Jurisdiction
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.

Doctrine of Judicial Review
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.

Attorney General of India
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.

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