Powers and Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The unified, integrated judicial system is headed by the Supreme Court, with High Courts at the state level. There are numerous lower courts beneath the High Courts, including the District Courts, which handle civil cases, and the Session Courts, which handle criminal cases. India's Supreme Court is the country's top court. If the parliament decides it is necessary, more judges may be appointed. In the beginning, there were just seven judges in addition to the Chief Justice.

What is Meaning of Jurisdiction?

The basic definition of jurisdiction is "the territory within which a court or government agency may lawfully exercise its authority." In general, "jurisdiction" refers to any control over a specific area or group of people. In the legal world, the term "jurisdiction" can refer to a specific geographical territory that is home to a specific legal authority. The source of a court's authority can also be referred to as "jurisdiction." Depending on its purpose, a court may be classified as having universal or specific authority.

The Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of India. While appointing the Chief Justice, the President is constitutionally required to consult such other judges of the Supreme Court as he deems proper, but outgoing Chief Justice is always consulted. Normally, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court is appointed as the Chief Justice of India, although there is no constitutional requirement to do so. While appointing other judges, the President is bound to consult the Chief Justice and other senior judges, if he deems proper.

The Chief Justice and the four senior-most justices evaluate potential candidates and recommend names for those who should be appointed as Supreme Court judges whenever there is a vacancy or a prospective vacancy on the court. This system is based on a Supreme Court decision from the Constitutional Bench (handed down in 1993 and reinforced in 1999). As a result, although the Constitution still specifies that the President is the one who appoints Supreme Court judges, the President is now essentially bound by the Supreme Court's decision as of 1999. A committee of Supreme Court justices known as the Collegium of the Court now has the authority to choose judges.

Jurisdiction and Role of the Supreme Court

It includes −

Guardian of the Constitution

The Supreme Court of India serves as both its interpreter and defender, and the Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land. It prohibits any constitutional violation by the executive or the legislature. It may also examine any government activity that is alleged to have violated a fundamental right. Judicial Review is the name of this Supreme Court authority, which we will explore in more detail later. If it determines that a constitutional provision has been violated, it may declare the offending law to be ultra-vires, or void. The Supreme Court is referred to as the custodian of the Constitution in light of its judicial review authority. Additionally, it is referred to as "a champion of liberty" and "a watchdog of democracy."

Protector of Fundamental Rights

When it comes to issuing directives, orders, and writs to enforce basic rights, the Supreme Court has concurrent authority with the High Courts. The writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quo warranto are similar in character to these. The Supreme Court is now a defender and guarantor of fundamental rights as a result of these writs. The concept is that the Court may order compliance with the Constitution in cases of violations of a law or right. As a result, India's inhabitants are secure in terms of their fundamental rights. If a law passed by the legislature infringes on our fundamental rights, the Supreme Court has the authority to declare it invalid. Many laws that violated fundamental rights were rejected by it. This demonstrates how the Supreme Court has consistently protected fundamental rights.

Review of Its Own Judgment

The Supreme Court has the authority to examine the case and reverse previous rulings if it learns of new facts or evidence or if it is certain that an error or mistake occurred in a prior judgment. Usually, this happens when a review petition is submitted. Usually, a larger bench than the one that rendered the original decision reviews the matter.

Judicial Review

It is a procedure by which the judiciary determines whether or not legislation passed by a legislature or an executive action complies with the Constitution. The Supreme Court of the United States was the first institution to be granted judicial review authority. The Supreme Court of India and many other nations now freely utilise it. This authority is also used by our high courts. Judicial review does not imply that the Supreme Court will review every piece of legislation that the legislature passes. It simply means that the court will examine the law whenever it has the chance. There are two ways to do this. If the legality of the law is contested, the court can first review it.

The Supreme Court or High Court may get an opportunity to review a law in another situation also. If a person or institution feels that his/her rights are violated, or a certain benefit due to him under a law is being denied, the Court while examining such a petition may come to the conclusion that the law, under which relief is sought, is itself unconstitutional. Therefore, relief may not be granted. In a democratic country like India the power of Judicial Review is an important guarantee of the rights of the people. Besides, the Supreme Court has been interpreting various provisions of the Constitution. Its rulings are treated as law of the land.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

The Court approved cases based on public interest litigation's legal foundation. It means that the court may be informed of things of general interest even by those who are not directly involved in the case. The court has the right to consider applications for public interest litigation (PIL). Justice P.N. Bhagwati developed the PIL idea. PILs are crucial since it is now simple for the underprivileged and weaker groups in society to access justice. The Supreme Court has taken up a variety of topics of public interest based on letters it has received from journalists, attorneys, social workers, and even newspaper reports.

The PIL has restored the rights of those whose trials were held while they were being held illegally. Due to judicial or administrative inefficiencies, the Supreme Court ordered the release of numerous detainees without a trial on the grounds that their personal liberties could not be restricted. The Supreme Court has also taken action to free bonded labourers, tribal people, residents of slums, women in rescue homes, juvenile home residents, and others.


Our legal system stands out because it is a single, integrated institution that covers the entire nation. A hierarchy of courts is represented by a single judiciary. According to the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India is the country's highest court and ultimate court of appeal, making it the highest constitutional court and defender of the Constitution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the three jurisdiction of Supreme Court?

Ans. The Supreme Court has three types of jurisdictions namely original, appellate and advisory.

Q2. What is the importance of jurisdiction?

Ans. For a judge to be able to make decisions in a court case, the court must have “personal jurisdiction” over all of the parties to that court case.

Q3. Is the Supreme Court's ruling binding?

Ans. The doctrine of stare decisis, which is present in the majority of common law countries, states that a court's earlier judgments (decisions) are binding precedent for any subsequent decisions made by that court or by lower-status courts within its jurisdiction. The highest and final authority for any judgement is the Supreme Court.

Q4. Can the Supreme Court repeal laws?

Ans. Until the Supreme Court declares a statute to be unconstitutional, a law passed by a legislature is valid.

Updated on: 14-Mar-2023


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