Supreme Court – Indian Judiciary
Though India is a federal system, India has opted for a unified and single judiciary and a single integrated system of courts for the Union as well as the States. Supreme Court stands at the apex of the judicial system of India. Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and 25 other judges.
Appointment in Supreme Court –
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President with the consultation of such judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts as he may deem necessary for the purpose. The other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President with the consultation of Chief Justice.
Qualifications of Judges of Supreme Court
A person to be qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court must:
- Be a citizen of India, and
- Have been a judge of a High Court or two or more such courts in succession for at least five years or
- Have been an advocate of a high court or two or more such courts in succession for at least ten years or
- A distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President.
Tenure and salary of judge of the Supreme Court
A judge of the Supreme Court vacates his office on attaining the age of sixty-five years or by resignation addressed to the President or by removal by the President upon a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two- thirds of the members present and voting on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
The Chief Justice of India draws a salary of Rs. 2,80,000 and other Judges Rs. 2,50,000 per month.
Seat- the Supreme Court normally sits at New Delhi.
Independence of Supreme Court Judges
The Constitution has made provisions to ensure the independence of judges
(1) The salaries and allowances of judges have been charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and are not subject to a vote of Parliament
(2) The salaries and other service conditions of judges cannot be changed to their disadvantage during their tenure.
(3) The conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court cannot be discussed in the Parliament, except on the resolution for the removal of a judge.
(4) The President shall have to consult the Chief Justice of India before appointing a person as a judge of Supreme Court.
(5) Once appointed, a Judge of the Supreme Court can only be removed from office by the President on the basis of a resolution passed by both the Houses of the Parliament with 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 grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity of the judge in question.
(6) After retirement, a judge of the Supreme Court is prohibited from practicing or acting as a judge in any court or before any authority in India.
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court-
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is five-fold., original, writ, appellate, advisory and revisory jurisdiction.
(a) Original Jurisdiction- The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is purely federal in character, and it has exclusive authority to decide any dispute:
(1) Disputes between the Centre and one or more states
(2) Disputes between the Centre and any state or states on the one hand and one or more states on the other
(3) Disputes between two or more states
(b) Writ Jurisdiction- Art 32 confers jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to enforce the Fundamental Rights. Under this Article every individual has a right to move the Supreme Court directly by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of his Fundamental Rights. The power to issue writs for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights is given by the Constitution to the Supreme Court and High courts.
(c) Appellate Jurisdiction- the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal and its writs and decrees run throughout the country. Broadly speaking, four types of cases fall within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court-constitutional, civil, criminal and such other cases where it may grant special leave to appeal. Generally, appeals can be taken to the Supreme Court if the case involves a substantial question of law regarding interpretation of Constitution or if it involves a substantial question of law of general importance.
(d) Advisory Jurisdiction- under art 143 of the Constitution the Supreme Court renders advice to the President on any matter of law or fact whenever he seeks such advice. However, the advice is not binding on the President.
(e) Revisory Jurisdiction- The Supreme Court under art 137 is empowered to review any judgment or order made by it with a view to removing any mistake or error that might have crept in the judgment or order.
(f) Court of record- The Supreme Court is a court of record and its records are admitted to be to be of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court. As a court of record it also enjoys the power to punish for its contempt.
Supreme Court and Judicial Review
Supreme Court in India has been vested with the power of judicial review. Judicial review can be defined as the competence of a court of a law to declare the constitutionality or otherwise of a legislative enactment. It can ensure that the laws passed by the legislature and the orders passed issued by the executive do not contravene any provision of the Constitution. If they go against any provision of Constitution, it can declare them unconstitutional or null and void.