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Supreme Court of India



Supreme Court of India came into existence on 26th January, 1950 and is located on Tilak Marg, New Delhi.

The Supreme Court of India functioned from the Parliament House till it moved to the present building.

It has a 27.6 metre high dome and a spacious colonnaded verandah. 

On the 28th of January, 1950, two days after India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic, the Supreme Court came into being.

The inauguration took place in the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament building which also housed India's Parliament, consisting of the Council of States and the House of the People. It was here, in this Chamber of Princes, that the Federal Court of India had sat for 12 years between 1937 and 1950. This was to be the home of the Supreme Court for years that were to follow until the Supreme Court acquired its own present premises.

After its inauguration on January 28, 1950, the Supreme Court commenced its sittings in a part of the Parliament House. The Court moved into the present building in 1958. The building is shaped to project the image of scales of justice. The Central Wing of the building is the Centre Beam of the Scales.

In 1979, two New Wings - the East Wing and the West Wing - were added to the complex. In all there are 15 Court Rooms in the various wings of the building. The Chief Justice's Court is the largest of the Courts located in the Centre of the Central Wing.

On 20 February 1980, a black bronze sculpture of 210 cm (6 ft 11 in) height was installed in the lawn of the supreme court. It portrays Mother India in the form of the figure of a lady, sheltering the young Republic of India represented by the symbol of a child, who is upholding the laws of land symbolically shown in the form of an open book. On the book, a balance beam is shown, which represents dispensation of equal justice to all. The sculpture was made by the renowned artist Chintamoni Kar. The sculpture is just behind the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

The original Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 Judges - leaving it to Parliament to increase this number.
In the early years, a full bench of the supreme court sat together to hear the cases presented before them. As the work of the court increased and cases began to accumulate, parliament increased the number of judges (including CJI) from the original 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986 and 31 in 2009, 34 in 2019 (current strength).

As the number of the judges has increased, they sit in smaller benches of two or three (referred to as a division bench) — coming together in larger benches of five or more (referred to as a constitution bench) when required to settle fundamental questions of law. A bench may refer a case before it to a larger bench, should the need arise.

Supreme Court Judges retire upon attaining the age of 65 years.

Provisions exist for the appointment of a Judge of a High Court as an Ad-hoc Judge of the Supreme Court and for retired Judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts to sit and act as Judges of that Court.

A Judge of the Supreme Court cannot be removed from office except by an order of the President passed after an address in each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of members present and voting, and presented to the President in the same Session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

A person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court is debarred from practising in any court of law or before any other authority in India.

The proceedings of the Supreme Court are conducted in English only. Supreme Court Rules, 1966 are framed under Article 145 of the Constitution to regulate the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court.

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.

INDEPENDENCE OF SUPREME COURT JUDGES

The independence of the Judges of the Supreme Court is ensured by the following:

1. The salaries of the Judges have been fixed under the Second Schedule and these shall not be varied to their disadvantages after their appointment.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. After retirement, a Supreme Court Judge shall not plead or act in any Court or before any authority in the country.


Jurisdiction

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

Original Jurisdiction
(i) The Supreme Court is empowered to decide all disputes between the Union and one or more States.

(ii) Under Article 32 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can enforce fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.

(iii) It is empowered to issue directions or orders of writs including those in the nature of writs of habeas 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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