Supreme Court : Constitutional Provisions

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  • India has an independent & integrated judicial system.
  • It is called independent because there is not control on Indian courts by the executive and legislative organs of the government.
  • It is called integrated because Indian judiciary is not just one court. It comprises of a hierarchy of courts. (i.e. Supreme Court at the top, followed by High Court & then subordinate court in the form of district courts.)
  • The idea for a single system of court came from the Government of India Act, 1935. In India, both the central and state laws are exercised by the single system of government. There are no separate courts for state laws & separate courts for central laws.

Some Facts about Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court was inaugurated on 28th January, 1950.
  • It succeeded the Federal Court of India, established under the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • Supreme Court’s organization, independence, jurisdiction, powers, procedures, etc., are all given in the Article 124 to Article 147 in Part V of the constitution.

Composition of Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court consists of 31 judges.
  • In short, there should be one chief justice & thirty other judges in the Supreme Court.

Qualification of Judges

  • He must be a citizen of India
  • A) He must have been a judge of High Court for 5 years or B) He should have been an advocate of a High Court for ten years or C) He should be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President.

Tenure of Judges

  • He holds the office till the age of 65 years.
  • He can resign from the office by writing to the President.
  • He can be removed from his office by the President on the recommendation of the Parliament.

Removal of Judges
President is the one who can remove the Judge of the Supreme Court but for it needs approval of the Parliament. The detailed process is given below:

  • For starting the motion for removal of Judge of the Supreme Court, it can be started in any one of the House of Parliament. But for Lok Sabha atleast 100 members or for Rajya Sabha atleast 50 members has to ask to start such a motion by submitting application to Speaker/Chairman (as the case may be).
  • Speaker/Chairman may accept or reject it
  • After this, the speaker or chairman creates a 3 member committee to investigate the charges. (Note: The 3 member committee consists of the i)Chief Justice of India or judge of Supreme Court ii) A chief justice of High Court & iii) Distinguished Jurist
  • If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of misbehaviour or suffering from incapacity, the House can take up the consideration of the motion.
  • After the motion is passed by each House of Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the president to the president for the removal of judge.
  • At last, The President passes an order removing the judge.

What are the provisions that make independence of Supreme Court possible?

  • Separate from executive: Constitution has guaranteed to keep a distinction between the Judiciary & the Executive in matters of public services.
  • Freedom to appoint its staff: Supreme Court has the right to appoint its own staff.
  • Ban on practice after retirement: Any judge of the Supreme Court is not allowed to practice in any court of law in India.
  • Expenditure on Judges of Supreme Court: The expenditure on Judges i.e. salaries, allowances & pensions are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India on which the executive has little control.
  • Security of Tenure: Any judge of the Supreme Court can’t be removed by any arbitrary manner. He can only be removed by the way in which the constitution has decided.
  • Way of Appointment: Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President on the recommendation of members of the judiciary itself.
  • Fixed service allocation: Any condition of work cannot be changed after the appointment of judges which goes against the interest of the Judge.
  • Conduct of judges: The conduct of judges can’t be discussed by the Parliament or state legislature with respect to the conduct of judges.
  • Power to Punish for its contempt: Supreme Court can punish any person for its contempt.
  • Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction of Supreme Court can’t be decreased.

Jurisdiction and powers of Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court of India has more powers than any other Supreme Court in any part of the world.
  • It not only it is a federal court, but is also the final court of appeal & the guarantor of the fundamental rights of the citizens. Along with this they have advisory & supervisory powers along with the power of Judicial Review.
  • Jurisdiction & powers of Supreme Court can be classified into following types:
  • Original Jurisdiction
  • Writ Jurisdiction
  • Appellate Jurisdiction
  • Advisory Jurisdiction
  • A Court of Record
  • Power of Judicial Review
  • Other Powers
  • Original Jurisdiction
  • Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court refers to the Federal Character of the Indian Constitution.
  • Any matter or dispute concerned with the Indian Federalism is resolved or decided by Supreme Court.
  • It is called Original Jurisdiction because “originally” i.e. at the start Supreme Court was created for resolving the disputes between the i) Centre & state or ii) state & state or iii) Centre, State & state or states.
  • This original jurisdiction is exclusive in nature i.e. this power is vested only in the Supreme Court & not any other court in India.
  • Writ Jurisdiction
  • Writ is nothing but a legal document issued by a court or judicial officer
  • Writ are issued by the Supreme Court & High court for enforcement of fundamental rights.
  • Various types of writs are: habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warrento & certiorari.
  • Supreme Court can issue writs only in the case of violation of Fundamental Right & not any other law. While High Court can issue writs even in the case of other laws. This extra power of High Court can also be added by the Supreme Court by the Parliament.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction:
  • Appellate Jurisdiction is the method by which any person by use of it can appeal to the higher court of law if he is not satisfied with the decision of the lower court.
  • But the decision given by Supreme Court is final in this case & it cannot be challenged anywhere.
  • Advisory Jurisdiction:
  • This denotes the advisory role played by the Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court is the supreme interpreter of the constitution. Hence any advice given by it in terms of law is always correct.
  • President therefore has been given the power under Article 143 to take advice from the Supreme Court on any legal matter.
  • A Court of Record: The judgements, proceedings and acts of the Supreme Court are recorded for perpetual memory and testimony.
  • Power of Judicial Review:
  • Judicial Review is the power by which Supreme Court determines the constitutional validity of any law made by the Central or State Government.
  • Supreme Court has the right to declare any law null & void if that violative of the Constitution.
  • Other Powers:
  • It has the power of judicial superintendence and control over all the courts and tribunals functioning in the entire territory of the country.
  • It is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution.
  • Its law is binding on all court in India.
  • It is authorized to withdraw the cases pending before the High Courts and dispose them by itself.
  • It has power to review its own judgement or order.
  • It enquires into the conduct and behaviour of the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission on a reference made by the President.
  • It decides the disputes regarding the election of the President and the Vice-President.

Difference between Indian and American Supreme Court

Sr. No.

Indian Supreme Court

American Supreme Court


Jurisdiction and powers can be increased by Parliament.

Jurisdiction and powers are limited to that conferred by the Constitution


Scope of judicial review is limited.

Scope of judicial review is very wide.


It has a very wide discretion to grant special leave to appeal in any matter against the judgement of any court or tribunal (except military)

It has no such plenary power.


Its original jurisdiction is confined to federal cases.

Its original jurisdiction covers not only federal cases but also cases relating to naval forces, maritime activities, ambassadors, etc.


It has power of judicial superintendence and control over state high courts due to integrated judicial system.

It has no such power due to double judicial system.


It defends rights of the citizen according to the “procedure established by law”

It defends rights of the citizens according to the “due process of law”.


It has advisory jurisdiction.

It has no advisory jurisdiction.


Its appellate jurisdiction covers constitutional, civil and criminal cases.

Its appellate jurisdiction is confined to constitutional cases only.

Practice Questions