Judiciary holds a significant place is any system of government and opinion is fairly unanimous on the point that in independent and rigorous judiciary is very integral to the conception of a democratic government.
The highest court of India is known as “Supreme Court.” The constitution establishes a single integrated system of judicial administration.
The Supreme Court at present consists of the chief justice and 25 other Judges.
Appointment of Judges:
The president is the appointing authority in the case of judges of the Supreme Court. While making appointment of the Chief Justice of India, he may consult such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts as he might consider necessary.
While making appointment of other judges of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice shall always be consulted. In addition to regular judges of the president feels that the work load is heavy, he can appoint advocates and judges as well. He is also empowered to invite retired judges to attend the meeting of the court.
Qualification of judges:
A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court unless he is (a) a citizen of India and (b) either a distinguished jurist, or has been a High Court Judge for at least 5 years or has been an Advocate of a high court for at least 10 years.
Tenure of Judges:
No minimum age is prescribed for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court, nor any fixed period of office. Once appointed, a Judge of the Supreme Court may cease to be so on the happening of any one of the following contingencies; (a) an attaching the age of 65 years, (b) or resigning his office by writing addressed to the president; (c) on being removed by the president upon an address to that effect being passed by a special majority of each house of parliament viz. a majority of the total membership of that House and by majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present-and voting.
The only grounds upon which such removal may take place are (1) Proved mis-behaviour and (2) Incapacity.
A judge of the Supreme Court gets a salary of 30.000 per month and the use of an official residence free of rent. The salary of the Chief Justice is Rs. 33,000 per month.
A Judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from his position only on the ground of proved mis-behaviour or n capacity.
He can be removed from his office by an order of the president passed after an address from each House of Parliament, supported by a majority of not less than 2/3rds of the members present and voting.
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court of India is a powerful body. It has been armed with wider powers than those of the highest judicial authority in any other federation including the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. following the pattern of the federal count of-India, of India, the supreme court has original jurisdiction, the appellate jurisdiction and the advisory jurisdiction.
Under Act 131, its exclusive original jurisdiction covers all disputes (1) between the Government of India and one or more states, (ii) between the Government of India and any state or states on the one side and one of more other states in the other, or (iii) between two or more states inter se if and in so far as the dispute involves any question on which the existence or extent of a legal rights depends.
However, disputes arising but of the provisions of treaties with the former Indian states or to which any such state is a party are excluded from the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
As a court of appeal, the Supreme Court is the final appellate tribunal of the land. There can be two types of cases criminal, in which some criminal activities are involved and civil, in which there may be disputes regarding property, etc.
The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may be further divided under three heads: (1) Cases involving interpretation of the constitution, (2) civil cases irrespective of any constitutional question. (3) Criminal cases, irrespective of any constitutional question.
Appeal can be made to the Supreme Court only by special leave of that court but if a particular case involves a substantive question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution, an appeal can also be made to the Supreme Court if the High Court concerned has certified that such a question as involved.
The Supreme Court can. However, take up the case even if the High Court has refused “to grant such a certificate, if it is satisfied that a substantive question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution is involved in the case.
In all other cases, where constitutional questions are not involved, an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court only if the High Court has certified that (a) the case involves a substantive question of law and (b) in the opinion of the High Court, the said question should be decided by the Supreme Court.
So far the criminal cases are concerned, an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court against any judgement, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High court as of right concerning specified classes of cases : (a) in case the High Court has, an appeal against the decision of a lower court, reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death, or (b) in case the High Court has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted an accuses and sentenced him to death.
In other criminal cases, where a sentence of death is not involved, an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court only on the basis of the High Court certifying that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court parliament has the right to make laws if it so desires, conferring on the Supreme Court further powers to appeal on criminal matters.
The Supreme Court under these powers can entertain and hear appeals by granting special leave against any kind of judgement of order made by any court or tribunal in any proceeding and the exercise of this power is left entirely to the discretion of the supreme court no restrictions can be binding on the Supreme Court so far as these powers are concerned excepting that it has been deterned by the constitution to interfere with decisions of a military tribunal and this power cannot be curtailed by any legislation unless Act 136 itself as amended by parliament.
According to the provision mentioned in Act. 143. The president may refer to the Supreme Court and question of law or fact of public importance for its opinion.
The question so referred is heard in the open court and the procedure of an ordinary trial is followed. The president, however, is not bound to accept the opinion.
The Supreme Court is the guardian of the liberties and Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India. The court can declare a law passed by any legislature null and – void if it encroaches upon the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the people by the constitution.
The Supreme Court can issue writs in the nature-of Habeys corpus and the like for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights. The Supreme Court plays the role of a sentinel on the “quivive” so far as Fundamental Rights are concerned.
Custodian and interpreter of the constitutions:
Like the Supreme Court of the U.S.A., the Supreme Court of India has been empowered to review laws passed by the legislature and declare them ultra vires or unconstitutional if they contravene any provision of the constitution.
It is for the Supreme Court to declare what the provisions of the constitution mean. In other words, the Supreme Court is the custodian of the constitution and the highest forum for its interpretation.
The Supreme Court is a court of record and had the power to punish for its contempt. It has also the power to review its own judgements and order.
It has the power to make rules for the transaction of business in the court. All doubts and disputed arising out of or- in connection with the election of the president or vice president are to be enquired into and decided by the Supreme Court. Act. 138 also provides for the enlargement of its jurisdiction by a law of the parliament with respect to any matter contained in the union list.
Limitations on the power of the Supreme Court:
The following may be said to constitute the limitations on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
(a) The court cannot question the detention or arrest of a person who has been detained or arrested under a law enacted in accordance with the procedure established by law.
(b) The court cannot determine the adequacy of compensation granted by the states for acquisition of property for public purpose.
(c) The court cannot interfere with the delimitation of constituencies.
(d) It cannot question the discretion of the president regarding the proclamation of emergency.
(e) It cannot question the decision of the speaker as to whether a bill is a money-bill or not.
In short, the Supreme Court exercises a wide jurisdiction and has an important role to play in the administration of justice. It is the highest court of the Indian Federation.
India has a single integrated judicial system and the Supreme Court is the final court of appeal. It stands on the apex of the system and occupies an August place in the judicial system of India.