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Supreme Court of India: Composition, Power and Functions

Supreme Court of India

India is a federal State having a single and unified judicial system with a three-tier structure, i.e., Supreme Court, High Courts, and Subordinate Courts.

Established1 October 1937 (as Federal Court of India)
28 January 1950 (as Supreme Court of India)
LocationTilak Marg, New Delhi
MottoYato Dharmastato Jayah (Where there is Dharma, there will be victory)
Composition methodCollegium of the Supreme Court of India
Authorized byConstitution of India
Judge term lengthMandatory retirement at 65 years of age
Chief Justice of IndiaN. V. Ramana

Supreme Court of India: Composition, Jurisdiction, and Appointments

Composition of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India is constituted under Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution. It consists of a Chief Justice of India (CJI) and 34 judges, including the CJI. The total strength of the court is 35 judges.

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has three broad categories of jurisdiction:

Original Jurisdiction

Under its original jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has the authority to hear and decide disputes directly, without these cases going through lower courts first. This includes matters of federal or constitutional significance and disputes between the Government of India and one or more states, or between different states.

Appellate Jurisdiction

As the highest court of appeal, the Supreme Court reviews and adjudicates upon cases that come before it on appeal. It has the power to overturn or uphold the decisions of lower courts, including High Courts and tribunals, on matters of law and fact.

Advisory Jurisdiction

The President of India may seek the court’s advice on important legal or constitutional issues. While the advice is not binding, it holds considerable significance.

Supreme Court: Guardian of the Constitution

The Supreme Court stands at the apex of the Indian Judiciary, tasked with upholding the Constitution, safeguarding the rights and liberties of citizens, and ensuring the rule of law. It plays a pivotal role in interpreting and preserving the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

Constitutional Provisions

The provisions for the Supreme Court are laid out in Part V (The Union) and Chapter 6 of the Indian Constitution, titled ‘The Union Judiciary.’ This establishes an independent judiciary with a hierarchical structure, consisting of High Courts and Subordinate Courts under the Supreme Court’s authority.

Appointment of Judges

Article 124(2) governs the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. The President of India appoints every judge of the Supreme Court by warrant under his hand and seal. However, this appointment is made after consulting with the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, as specified in the collegium system.

Collegium System and NJAC

The collegium system, also known as the “three judges’ cases,” consists of the CJI and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. It also includes the Chief Justice of the High Court and the two senior-most judges of that High Court when considering appointments to High Courts. This system requires consensus among the senior-most judges, in line with the opinion of the CJI.

In an attempt to address concerns over transparency and delays in appointments, the Indian Constitution was amended, and Article 124A was incorporated. This introduced the National Judiciary Appointments Commission (NJAC) as a new system for appointing judges. However, the NJAC was later held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court itself, leading to the restoration of the collegium system.

Overall, the Supreme Court of India remains the highest authority in the Indian judicial system, preserving the Constitution and upholding the principles of justice for the nation’s citizens.

Read Also: Sedition Law: Significance, Issues, and Recent Developments

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