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Supreme Court of India: Powers and Jurisdiction

Supreme Court of India is the highest court  established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Indian Constitution. This page discusses some of the key powers and jurisdictions of the Spreme Court of India.

Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of India and not more than 30 judges. Supreme Court Judges are appointed by the President and they hold office until they attain the age of 65 years.

Key powers of Supreme Court and the Articles that Grant it:

  • The law declared by Supreme Court is binding on all courts within the territory of India -  Article 141
  • All authorities, civil & judicial, in the territory of India, are required to act in aid of the Supreme Court - Article 144
  • Exclusive power to Chief Justice of India in the matter of appointment of officers and servants of the Court - Article 146

Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction - Articles 32, 131-144

Original jurisdiction

The court has exclusive original jurisdiction over:

  • Dispute between the Government of India and one or more States  
  • Dispute between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other
  • Between two or more States, if the dispute involves any question on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends
  • Extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcement of Fundamental Rights – Article 32
  • It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them.

Appellate jurisdiction

  • The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court in a case that involves substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution - Articles 132(1), 133(1), 134
  • The Supreme Court can also grant special leave to appeal from a judgment or order of any non-military Indian court - Article 136(1)
  • Appeals also lie to the Supreme Court in civil matters if the High Court concerned certifies :
    • The case involves a substantial question of law of general importance, and in High Court’s opinion, it needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.
    • In criminal cases, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court if the High Court
      • has reversed an order of acquittal of an accused on appeal and sentenced him to death or life-imprisonment for more than 10 years
      • has withdrawn any case for trial from any subordinate Court and has convicted the accused and sentenced him to death or life-imprisonment for more than 10 years
      • Certified that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court

Parliament is authorised to confer on the Supreme Court any further powers to entertain and hear appeals from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court.

Advisory jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has special advisory jurisdiction in matters which may specifically be referred to it by the President of India - Article 143.

There are provisions for reference or appeal to this Court under:

Article 317(1) of the Constitution and several Acts of Parliament

Comments

Which Article:

Which article grants that the law declared by Supreme Court is binding on all courts within the territory of India?

Which article grants exclusive power to Chief Justice of India in the matter of appointment of officers and servants of the Court?