Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal. Constitution deals with jurisdiction, independence, powers, procedures and organization. Parliament can also regulate them. It can increase the number of judges. Parliament can’t curtail the jurisdiction but expand it only.

Supreme Court has the power to punish for its contempt.

Appointment of judges is done by the president. For the chief justice the president consults as many judges of the Supreme Court and high court as he may deem necessary. For the other judges he has to consult the chief justice of India and as many other judges of the S.C and H..C as he may deem necessary.

Conduct of the judges in performance of their duties can’t be discussed in parliament except when a motion for their impeachment is being considered.

Qualification for judges of the S.C:

  1. He should be a citizen of India
  2. He should fulfill at least one criteria from below:

a. He should be a judge of H.C in succession for 5 years

b. He should be an advocate of H.C in succession for 10 years

c. He should be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the president. 


Occupies office till he attains the age of 65 yrs.

Can resign anytime in writing to the president.

Can be removed by president on recommendation of parliament.


Removal of judges [Act of Parliament]: 

A motion support removal must be supported by 100 LS / 50 RS members. The presiding officer may or may not admit it. If admitted an inquiry committee of Chief justice of India or a Supreme Court judge; Chief justice of high court and distinguished jurist checks if judge is guilty; if the committee finds the judge guilty then parliament can pass a motion by special majority in both houses.

An address supported by this motion must be presented to the president on the same day. Then by a presidential order the judge can be removed.

Acting Chief Justice or Adhoc S.C Judges

President can appoint a S.C judge as acting chief justice if the Chief justice is absent or can’t perform his duties or the office is vacant.

The chief justice with the previous consent of the president may appoint adhoc judges to the Supreme Court by nominating high court judges who are duly qualified. The consultation of the chief justice of the high court is also needed. Also retired judges of H.C or S.C can be appointed if their consent is there. But he won’t be considered as S.C judge.

Retired judges of S.C. are banned from pleading or acting in any court before any authority in India.

The C.J.I. can with the approval of the president designate other seats of the S.C. too.

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

Original and exclusive jurisdiction: Only the supreme court can adjudicate matters of dispute between Centre and one / more states on one hand and one / more states on the other OR between states OR between centre and one or more states. Election disputes of president and vice president can be considered by it only.

Writ jurisdiction: S.C can issue writs for safeguarding or enforcing fundamental rights if aggrieved citizens approach it. The citizens can approach it directly too. This jurisdiction is concurrent to jurisdiction of H.C. However the writ jurisdiction of H.C's are wider but unlike Supreme courts they are discretionary powers.

Appellate jurisdiction: The final court of appeals means SC can hear appeals of following kinds Constitutional matters [H.C. certifies that an interpretation to the constitution is needed], Civil matters [H.C certifies that substantial question of law is present], Criminal matters and Special leave.  Special leave jurisdiction is a discretionary power that allows SC to admit an appeal on any judgment of court or tribunal except military tribunals.

Court of record: The judgments of the S.C are legal precedents.

Advisory jurisdiction: The S.C may give its opinion to the president when asked about a question of law or fact of public importance. S.C has to give its opinion if asked about disputes arising out of pre - constitution instruments.

Judicial review: The final interpreter of the constitution. It can invalidate laws or check their constitutional validity. It is the guarantor of fundamental rights and guardian of the constitution.

Principles of Natural Justice

  1. No one should be made a judge in his own cause.
  2. No one should be condemned unheard.

  • IT has already been pointed out, that notwithstanding the adoption of a federal system, the Constitution of lndia has not provided for a double system of Courts as in the United States.

  • Under our Constitution there is a single integrated system of Courts for the Union as well as the States which administer both Union and State laws, and at the head of the entire system stands the Supreme Court of India.

  • Below the Supreme Court stand the High Courts of the different States and under each High Court there is a hierarchy of other Courts which are referred to in the Constitution as 'subordinate courts' i.e., courts subordinate to and under the control of the High Court

  • The organisation of the subordinate judiciary varies slightly from State to State, but the essential features may be explained with reference to the system obtaining in the majority of the States.

  • The Supreme Court has issued a direction to the Union and the States to constitute an All India Judicial Service and to bring about uniformity in designation of officers both in criminal and civil side.

  • Concrete steps in this directions are yet to be taken by the Government

  • At the lowest stage the two branches of justice,--civil and criminal,-are bifurcated.

  • The Union Courts and the The hierarchy of Bench Courts, constituted under the Village Self-government Acts, Which constituted the lowest civil and criminal Courts respectively, have been substituted by Panchayat Courts set up under post-Constitution State legislation.

  • The Panchayat Courts also function on two sides, civil and criminal, under various regional names, such as the Nyaya Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat, Gram Kulchery , and the like.

  • In some States, the Panchayat Courts, are the Criminal Courts of the lowest jurisdiction, In respect of petty cases.

  • The Munsifs Courts are the next higher CiVil Courts, having jurisdiction as determined by High Courts.

  • Above, the Munsiffs are Subordinate Judges who have got unlimited jurisdiction over civil suits and hear first appeals from the judgments of Munsiffs.

  • The District Judge hears first appeals from the decisions of Subordinate Judges and also from the Munsiffs (unless they are transferred to a Subordinate Judge) and himself possesses unlimited original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal.

  • Suits of a small value are tried by the Provincial Small Causes Courts.

  • The District judge is the highest Judicial authority (civil and criminal) in the district. It hears appeals from the decisions of the superior Magistrates and also tries the more serious criminal cases, known as the Sessions cases.

  • A Subordinate Judge Is sometimes vested also with the powers of an Assistant Sessions judge, in which case he combines in his hands both civil and criminal powers like a District Judge.

  • Since the enactment of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the trial of criminal cases is done exclusively by Judicial Magistrates except in jammu & Kashmir and Nagaland, to which that Code does not apply.

  • The Chief Judicial Magistrate is the head of the Criminal Courts within the district

  • In Calcutta and other 'metropolitan areas', there are Metropolitan Magistrates, discharging judicial functions, under the administrative control of the State High Court, are to be distinguished from Executive Magistrates who discharge the executive function of maintaining law and order under the control of the State Government.

  • There are special arrangements for civil judicial administration in the 'Presidency towns', which are now called 'metropolitan areas'.

  • The Original Side of the High Court at Calcutta tries the bigger civil suits arising within the area of the Presidency town.

  • Suits of lower value within the City are tried by the City Civil Court and the Presidency Small Causes Court, But the Original Criminal Jurisdiction of all High Courts, including Calcutta, has been taken away by the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

  • The High Court Is the supreme judicial tribunal of the State, having both Original and Appellate jurisdiction.

  • It exercises appellate jurisdiction over the District and Sessions judge, the Presidency Magistrates and the Original Side of the High Court itself (where the Original Side still continues).

  • There is a High Court for each of the States, except Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland which have the High Court of Assam (at Gauhati) as their common High Court; and Haryana, which has a common High Court (at Chandigarh) with Punjab.

  • The Bombay High Court is common to Maharashtra and Goa.

  • As regards the Judiciary in Union Territories, see under 'Union Territories'. The Supreme Court has appellate Jurisdiction over the High Courts and is the highest tribunal of the land.

  • The Supreme Court also possesses original and advisory Jurisdictions.

  • PARLIAMENT has the power to make laws regulating the constitution, Constitution of the Organisation, jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court.

  • Subject to such legislation, the Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of India and not more than twenty five other Judges

  • Besides, the Chief Justice of India has the power, with the previous consent of the President, to request a retired Supreme Court Judge to act as a Judge of the Supreme Court for a temporary period. Similarly. a High Court Judge may be appointed ad hoc Judge of the Supreme Court for a temporary period if there is a lack of quorun of the permanent Judges

  • A nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has laid down that the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office should be appointed to the office of Chief justice of India.

  • And in the case of appointment of other Judges of the Supreme Court, consultation with the Chief justice of India, in addition co the above, is obligatory

  • Consultation would generally mean ccncurrence.

  • The above provision, thus, modifies the mode of appointment of Judges by the Executive-by providing that the Executive should consult members of the Judiclary itself, who are well-quallfled to give their opinion in this matter.

  • In a reference" (not as a review or reconsideration of the Second Judges case) made by the President under Art. 143 relating to the consultation between the Chief JUstice of India and his brother Judges In matters of appointment of the Supreme Court Judges and the referance of seniority In making such appointments, the nine-Judge Bench opined:

  • The opinion of the CJI, having primacy in the consultative process and reflecting the opinion of the judiciary, has to be formed on the basis of consultation with the collegium, comprising of CJI and the four senior most Judges of the Supreme Court.

  • The Judge, who is to succeed the CJI should also be included, If he is not one of the four senior most Judges. Their views should be obtained in writing.

  • Views of the senior most Judges of the Supreme Court, who hail from the High Courts where the persons to be recommended are functioning as Judges, if not the part of the collegium, must be obtained in writing.

  • The recommendation of the collegium alongwith the views of its members and that of the senior most Judges of the Supreme Court who hail from the High Courts where the persons to be recommended are functioning as Judges should be conveyed by the Chief Justice of India to the Govt of India.

  • The substance of the views of the others consulted by the Chief Justice of India or on his behalf, particularly those of non Judges (Members of the Bar) should he stated in the memorandum and be conveyed to the Govt. of India.

  • Normally. the collegium should make its recommendation on the basis of consensus but in case of difference of opinion no one would be appointed, if the CJ1 dissents.

  • If two or more members of the collegium dissent, CJI should not persist with the recommendation.

  • In case of non-appointment of the person recommended, the materials and information conveyed by the Govt. of India, must be placed before the original collegium or the reconstituted one, if so, to consider whether the recommendation should be Withdrawn or reiterated.

  • It is only if it unanimously reiterated that the appointment must be made.

  • The CJI may, in his discretion, bring to the knowledge of the person recommended the reasons disclosed by the Govt. of India for his non appointment and ask for his response thereto, which, if made. be considered by the collegium before withdrawing or reitirating the recommendation.

  • Merit should be predominant consideration though inter-seniority among the Judges in their High Courts and their combined seniority on all India basis should be given weight.

  • Cogent and good reasons should be recorded for recommending a person of outstanding merit regardless of his lower seniority.

  • For recommending one of several persons of more or less equal degree of merit, the factor of the High Courts not represented on the Supreme Court, may be Considered.

  • The Judge passed over can be reconsidered unless for strong reasons, it is recorded that he be never appointed.

  • The recommendations made by the CJI without complying with the norms and requirements, are not binding on the Govt. of India.

  • Though the appointing authority is the President, acting with the advice of his Council of Ministers. the appointment of Supreme Court Judge has been lifted from the realm of pure politics by requiring the President to consult the Chief Justice of India in the matter.

  • By laying down that a Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed by the President, except on a joint address by both Houses of Parliament (supported by a majority of the total membership and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting, in each House), on ground of proved misbehaviour or Incapacity of the Judge in question

  • This provision is similar to the rule prevailing in England since the Act of Settlement., 1701, to the effect that though Judges of the Superior Courts are appointed by the Crown, they do not hold office during his pleasure, but hold their office 'on good behaviour' and the Crown may remove them only upon a joint address from both Houses of Parliament.

  • By fixing the salaries of the Judges by the Constitution and providing that though the allowances, leave and pension may be determined by law made by Parliament, these shall not be varied to the disadvantage of a Judge during his term of office. In other words, he will not be affected adversely by any changes made by law since his appointment

  • But it will be competent for the President to override this guarantee, under a Proclamation of 'Financial Emergency'

  • By providlng that the administrative expenses of the Supreme Court, the salaries and allowances, etc., of the Judges as well as of the staff of the Supreme Court shall be 'charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India'; i.e., shall not be subject to vote in Parliament

  • By forbidding the discussion of the conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court (or of a High Court) in Parliament, except upon a motion for an address to the President for the removal of the Judge

  • By laying down that after retirement, a Judge of the Supreme Court shall not plead or act in any Court or before any authority within the territory of India

  • It has been rightly said that the jurisdiction and powers of our Supreme Position of the Court are in their nature and extent wider than those Supreme Court exercised by the highest Court of any other country.

  • It is at once a federal Court, a Court of appeal and a guardian of the Constitution, and the law declared by it, in the exercise of any Its jurisdictions under the Constitution, is binding On all other Courts within the territory of India

  • Firstly. the American Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction is confined to cases arising out of the federal relationship or those relating to the constitutional validity of laws and treaties. But our Supreme Court is not only a federal court and a guardian of the Constitution, but also the highest court of appeal in the land. relating to civil and criminal cases, apart from cases relating to the interpretation of the Constitution.

  • Secondly. our Supreme Court has an extraordinary power to entertain appeal, without any limitation upon its discretion, from the decision. not only of any court but also of any tribunal within the territory of India [Art. 136J. No such power belongs to the American Supreme Court.

  • Thirdly, while the American Supreme Court has denied to itself any power to advise the Government and confined itself only to the determination of actual controversies between parties to a litigation, our Supreme Court Is vested by the Constitution itself with the power to deliver advisory opinion on any question of fact or law that may be referred to it by the President

  • Though our federation is not in the nature of a treaty or compact between the component units, there is, nevertheless, a division of legislative as well as administrative powers between the Union and the States. Article 131 of our Constitution, therefore, vests the Supreme Court with original and exclusive Jurisdiction to determine justiciable disputes between the Union and the States or between the States.

  • Like the House of Lords in England, the Supreme Court of India is the final appellate tribunal of the land, and in some respects, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is even wider than that of the House of Lords.

  • As regards criminal appeals, an appeal lies to the House of Lords only if the Attomey-General certifies that the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal involves a point of law of exceptional public importance and that it is desirable in the public Interest tbat a further appeal should be brought.

  • But in cases specified by our Constitution (death sentences), an appeal will lie to the Supreme Court as of right

  • As to appeals from High Courts in civil cases, however, the position has been altered by an amendment of Art 133(1) by the Constitution (30th Amendment) Act, 1972, which has likened the law to that in England.

  • Civil appeals from the decisions of the Court of Appeal lie to the House of Lords only if the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords grants leave to appeal.

  • Under Art. 133(1) of our Constitution as it originally stood, an appeal to the Supreme Court lay as of right in cases of higher value [as certified by the High Court).

  • But this value test and the category of appeal as of right has been abolished by the amendment of 1972, under which appeal from the decision of a High Court in a civil matter will lie to the Supreme Court only if the High Court certifies that the case involves 'a substantial question of law of general importance' and that 'the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court'.

  • But the right of the Supreme Court to entertain appeal, by special leave, in any cause or matter determined by any Court or tribunal in India, save military tribunals, is unlimited .

  • It is for the Courts to decide whether any of the constitutional limitations has been transgressed or not, because the Constitution is the organic law subject to which ordinary laws are made by the Legislature which itself is set up by the Constitution.

  • There are provisions for reference to this Court under Art. 317(1) of the Constitution, s. 257 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, Jurisdictiou. s. 7(2) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, s. 130A of the Customs Act, 1962 and s. 35H of the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944.

  • Appeals also lie to Supreme Court under the Representation of the People Act, 1951; Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969; Advocates Act, 1961; Contempt of Courts Act, 1971; Customs Act, 1962; Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944; Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984·;Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevennon) Act, 1985; Trial of Offences relating to Transactions in Securities Act, 1992 and Consumer Protection AcL, 1986.

  • Election Petitions under Part III of the Presidential and Vice- Presidential Elections Act, 1952 are also filed directly in the Supreme Court.

  • Art. 323A-323B. The intent of these two new Articles was to take away the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Art. 32 over orders and decisions of Adrrunlstrauve Tribunals. These Articles could, however, be Implemented only by legislation which Mrs. Gandhi's first Government had no time to undertake.

  • But subsequently, the position turned out to be otherwise as the Supreme Court declared the Articles 323 A, 01. 2(d) and 323-B, CI. 3(d) and also the "exclusion of jurisdiction" clauses in all the legislations enacted In pursuance of these Articles, unconstitutional to the extent they excluded the jurisdiction of the High Courts and the Supreme Court under Articles 226 - 227 and 32

  • Art. 368(4)-(5). These two clauses were inserted in Art. 368 with a view lo preventing the Supreme Court from invalidating any Constitution Amendment Act on the theory of 'basic features of Constitution' or anything of that nature.

  • Curiously, however, these Clauses have been emasculated by the Supreme Court Itself, striking them down on the ground that they are violative of two 'basic features' of the Constitution-(a) the limited nature of the amending power under Art 368, and (b) judicial review, -in the Minerva Mills case.

Q. In India, Judicial Review implies

  1. the power of the Judiciary to pronounce upon the constitutionality of laws and executive orders

  2. the power of the Judiciary to question the wisdom of the laws enacted by the Legislatures

  3. the power of the Judiciary to review all the legislative enactments before they are assented to by the President.

  4. the power of the Judiciary to review its own judgements given earlier in similar or different cases.

Ans . A

  1. Judicial review is the power of SC to examine the Constitutionality of legislative enactments and executive orders of both union and state Government

Q.Who/Which of the following is the Custodian of the Constitution of India? (UPSC CSAT 2015)

  • The President of India

  • The Prime Minister of India

  • The Lok Sabha Secretariat

  • The Supreme Court of India

Ans . A

  1. President of India takes the oath to “PRESERVE, PROTECT and DEFEND” the constitution of India and laws. Hence, he is the custodian of the constitution of India.

  2. On the other hand, Supreme Court judges take the oath to “UPHOLD the constitution” and the laws. Hence, it is the Guardian of the constitution of India.


Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!