The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial body or the apex court of the Republic of India and is situated in the national capital, New Delhi. This article tells you about the history, composition, eligibility of judges, jurisdiction, powers of the Supreme Court of India.
History of Supreme Court of India
The Indian High Courts Act, 1861 established High Courts for several provinces and abolished the Supreme Courts in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, as well as the Sadar Adalats in presidential cities in their respective districts, in 1861.
Until the Federal Court of India was established under the Government of India Act, 1935, these new High Courts enjoyed the distinction of being the highest courts for all cases. The Federal Court held jurisdiction over conflicts between provinces and federal states, as well as hearing appeals from High Court decisions.
HJ Kania was India’s first Chief Justice.
Note: The initial proceedings and inauguration happened on January 28, 1950, at 9:45 AM.
Architecture of the Supreme Court of India
Dr Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, laid the foundation stone for the Supreme Court building on October 29, 1954. Chief architect Ganesh Bhikaji Deolalikar, the first Indian to lead the Central Public Works Department, designed the main block in an Indo-British style.
There is a total of 15 courtrooms, with the Chief Justice’s Court being Court No. 1.
There are three wings, namely,
- Central Wing consists of the court of Chief Justice of India and is the largest among the courtrooms, with two court halls on each side.
- Left Wing consists of offices of the court.
- Right Wing consists of the Supreme Court Bar, Office of Attorney General of India and other officers and library.
Note: In 1979, East Wing and West Wing were added.
Collegium Members of the Supreme Court
Presently, the members of collegium are:
- Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana (Chief Justice of India)
- Uday Umesh Lalit (Judge, Supreme Court of India)
- Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar (Judge, Supreme Court of India)
- Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud (Judge, Supreme Court of India)
- Lavu Nageswara Rao (Judge, Supreme Court of India)
Composition of the Indian Supreme Court
Supreme Court consists of registry, Chief Justice, and companion judges briefed below.
The Supreme Court’s registry is led by the Secretary-General, who is aided by ten registrars, several extra and deputy registrars, and others. The Supreme Court registry’s officers and staff are appointed under Article 146 of the Constitution of India.
There shall be a Chief Justice to the Supreme Court of India. He is selected based on seniority.
There are a total of 34 judges, including the chief justice. The judges sit in single, division, Constitution and large benches.
- The largest bench comprising 13 judges sat in 1973 in the Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala case.
- The first woman judge was M Fatheema Beevi took charge in 1989.
Only advocates who are registered with the Supreme Court, known as advocates-on-record, are allowed to appear, act, and plead for a party in court under the Supreme Court Rules of 2013.
Appointment of Supreme Court Judges
The appointment of the Chief Justice of India is from the Supreme Court’s senior-most judge who is deemed qualified to assume the position. The Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Company Affairs will seek the outgoing Chief Justice of India’s recommendation for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India at the appropriate time. Following receipt of the Chief Justice of India’s proposal, the Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Corporate Affairs will forward it to the Prime Minister, who will advise the President on the appointment.
When a vacancy in the office of a Supreme Court Judge is expected, the Chief Justice of India will launch a proposal and transmit it to the Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Corporate Affairs for filling the vacancy. The Chief Justice of India’s opinion on the appointment of a Supreme Court Judge should be made in consultation with a collegium of the Supreme Court’s four senior-most puisne judges.
Jurisdiction and Powers of Supreme Court
Below, you will find the types of jurisdiction dealt with by the Supreme Court and its powers.
Original jurisdiction is addressed in Article 131 of the Indian Constitution. The functions are wholly federal and may include conflicts between the states and the Union or the Government of India and state governments or two or more states. The Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction is exclusive, which means that such disputes can only be brought before it and no other court.
The Supreme Court is an appellate court. A person might appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of a lower or High Court.
Appeal by Special Leave
When an issue of law is implicated, the Supreme Court may intervene in a decision made by the High Court or other courts. The Supreme Court has this competency under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution.
A person can approach the Supreme Court to issue writs under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution if their fundamental rights have been violated.
In some cases, the President may send the case to the Supreme Court for a ruling or opinion. The President may believe that the subject involves a significant point of law or the public interest, in which case he should seek advice from the Supreme Court. This is defined in Article 143 of the Constitution of India.
Must Read: Advisory Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has the power to declare a law passed by parliament null and unconstitutional if it violates the Indian Constitution’s principles. Because of its function as defender and interpreter of the Constitution, the court has assumed this implicit power.
Court of Record
The Supreme Court’s whole meetings are taped and published as case law. All Indian courts are bound by such judgements. Article 129 of the Indian Constitution makes the Supreme Court a court of record.