The Supreme Court of India comes at the top of the Indian Integrated Judicial System, that is, it is the last place to get justice in India. In this article, we will discuss the Supreme Court in a simple and easy way, and understand its basic facts,
So for better understanding, definitely read till the end of the article as well as read other related articles; All links of related articles are given below;
role of Supreme Court of India
On January 26, 1950, India became a sovereign democratic republic, just two days after that i.e. on January 28, 1950, the Supreme Court came into existence. Earlier there was a Federal Court which was operated by Parliament (for about 12 years between 1937 and 1950). The Supreme Court replaced this. Remember here that the building in which the Supreme Court functions today came in 1958.
Secondly, we took many things from the American constitution, but in the case of judicial system, we established a unified judicial system in India, unlike the American constitution. In which the Supreme Court at the top – there are High Courts under it – there are categories of subordinate courts (below the state level) under the High Court. We adopted the integrated judicial system because the British adopted this system under the Government of India Act in 1935, so we had got a lot of experience of this type of court and it also served the interest of India.
So if we directly ask the question, what is the Supreme Court? So it would be said that this is the highest court of appeal in the Indian judicial system. That is, this is the last place in India where you can appeal. However, apart from adjudicating on disputes, the Supreme Court also does a lot of work such as reviewing the law made by the Parliament, mediating, interpreting the law, etc., which we are going to discuss next.
The constitution, independence, jurisdiction, powers, procedure etc. of the Supreme Court are mentioned in Part 5 of the Indian Constitution (Articles 124 to 147). Let us start with its constitution .
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constitution of Supreme Court of India
Under Article 124 , the original Constitution of 1950 established the Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 Deputy Judges. As the work of the Court increased, the Parliament increased the number of judges. The number of judges was increased to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986 and 31 in 2009, and 34 in 2019. This increase is done on the basis of “The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956“.
So in total there are 34 judges (one Chief Justice and 33 other judges) in the Supreme Court at present. As the number of judges increased, they began to sit on smaller benches of two and three. This does not mean that the judge does not sit alone, when he hears a case alone, it is called a single bench. Usually small cases are heard by this bench.
Then there is the Division Bench, in which it is necessary to have at least 2 judges, if the Supreme Court has to hear the death sentence awarded by the High Court, then it is necessary to have at least 3 judges in the Division Bench.
After that comes the Constitutional Bench – When there is a need for interpretation of any law or constitution in any matter, then the Constitutional Bench is constituted under Article 145(3) by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It is necessary to have at least 5 judges in this bench. Whatever decision is given by this bench can be changed only by a bigger bench. Take for example the Kesavananda Bharati case.
The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President on the advice of other judges and judges of the High Courts. Similarly, other judges are also appointed, but in the appointment of judges other than the Chief Justice, the consultation of the Chief Justice is necessary. However, there has been considerable controversy over this advice. The dispute has been on the selection process of the judges of the Supreme Court. which is still going on. Let us understand this a little.
|Dispute Over Consultation|
|The word consultation was disputed because here it was not clear whether the President would have to accept the advice of the Chief Justice or whether it was up to his discretion whether to accept or not. In this regard, the word ‘consultation’ has been given various interpretations by the Supreme Court –|
First Judges Case 1982 – In this the court said that consultation does not mean consent, but exchange of views. But the second judge case 1993 – court, changed its earlier decision and said that consultation means consent. This meant that the President would have to obey the advice given by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the matter of appointment of judges. But here a provision was added that the Chief Justice would give this advice only after consultation with his two senior most colleagues.
In the third judges case 1998 – some provision was added. Now a provision has been made that the Chief Justice has to consult the four senior most judges, out of which even if the opinion of two is not in favor, then he cannot send a recommendation for appointment.
Here the group of 5 judges is called collegium and this system of selecting judges is called collegium system.
There is controversy over this as well. The controversy is because it lacks transparency and is against the values of democracy.
With the aim of correcting this collegium system, the Judicial Appointments Commission Act was introduced in 2014, under which a new body National Judicial Appointments Commission was formed by replacing the collegium system meant for the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts .
But in the year 2015, the Supreme Court declared the Judicial Appointments Commission Act unconstitutional in the Fourth Judges case. And thus the old collegium system was restored. That is why the collegium system is still a disputed system.
Who becomes the Chief Justice?
In practice from 1950 to 1973, the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court was appointed as the Chief Justice. But in 1973, during the reign of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, bypassing this system, A. N. Ray was appointed the Chief Justice of India above the three senior-most judges. Again in 1977, Mirza Hamidullah Baig was made the Chief Justice above the senior most person.
In the second judge case in 1993, the court restored the old system, that is, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court would be appointed as the Chief Justice of India. which is going on till now.
Under Article 124(3) , a person must possess the following qualifications to become a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
1. He must be a citizen of India
2. (a) He must have been a Judge of a High Court for at least five years, or, (b) He must have been an advocate of a High Court or of different Courts together for 10 years, or ( c) He should be a respected and qualified jurist in the eyes of the President.
One thing to remember here is that the Constitution does not specify the minimum age for the appointment of a judge of the Supreme Court.
Oath or affirmation of Supreme Court of India
Under Article 124 (6) and Schedule 3 of the Constitution, a Judge appointed to the Supreme Court, before assuming his term of office, has to take the following oath before the President or a person appointed by him to do so—
I, so and so, who have been appointed as the Chief Justice (or Judge) of the Supreme Court of India, do swear to God that I will have true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India established by law, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and I will perform the duties of my office with due diligence and devotion and to the best of my ability, knowledge and discretion, without fear or favour, affection or malice, and I will uphold the dignity of the Constitution and the laws.
Tenure of judges
The constitution does not fix the tenure of the judges of the Supreme Court but three provisions have been made in this regard:
1. He can continue in office till the age of 65 years. Any question raised in his case shall be determined by an institution established by Parliament.
2. He may resign in writing to the President.
3. It can be removed from office by the President on the recommendation of the Parliament. Let us know how it is removed.
Removal of judges
Judges are definitely appointed by the President but the President cannot remove him from his mind. Under Article 124(4) , the President can remove a judge of the Supreme Court from office only if the grounds for removing that judge are established and thereafter the resolution is passed by a special majority of both the Houses of Parliament.
For this, there is a law named ‘ Judge Inquiry Act 1968 ‘, in which the process of impeachment in relation to the removal of judges of the Supreme Court is described. According to this, the process of removing a judge is as follows –
1. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha will consider the removal motion written consent from 100 members in the Lok Sabha and 50 members in the Rajya Sabha .
2. Despite this, it is up to the Speaker/Chairman to approve it or not. That is, they can include this offer or they can also reject it.
3. If it is accepted, the Speaker/Chairman will have to constitute a three member committee to examine it. This committee should consist of the Chief Justice or a Judge of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of a High Court and eminent jurists.
4.If this committee finds the judge guilty of misbehavior or incapable, it can consider the motion.
5. After this, by passing a resolution in both the houses with a special majority, it is sent to the President and finally the President issues an order to remove the judge.
It is interesting to note here that no judge of the Supreme Court has been impeached so far. There was an occasion when Supreme Court Justice V Ramaswamy (1991–1993) was found guilty of misbehavior by an inquiry committee. But they could not be removed because it could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. The Congress party abstained from voting.
So in totality what we have read above so far within the constitution, all these come under Article 124. You remember this.
Article 125 deals with the salaries of judges. The salary, other allowances, pension, etc. of judges are determined by the Parliament of India, although Parliament cannot make any unfavourable changes in it.
At present, as I am writing this article, a Supreme Court judge is drawing a salary of Rs 2,50,000 per month. Since these keep on changing , I am providing you a link to Wikipedia, if you are interested, check it out.
Executive Chief Justice
Article 126 talks about the executive judge. In fact, in certain circumstances, the President can appoint a judge as the Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, these are the situations –
(1) when the office of the Chief Justice is vacant, or
(2) the Chief Justice is temporarily absent,
( 3) Or the Chief Justice is unable to discharge his duties.
Ad hoc judge
Ad-hoc means when it is needed and only for as long as it is needed. Therefore, whenever the number of permanent judges is falling short to fulfill the quorum, the Chief Justice of India can appoint a judge of a High Court as an ad-hoc judge in the Supreme Court for a temporary period. But he can do so only after consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court and with the full approval of the President.
Secondly, the person appointed to this post should have the qualification of a Supreme Court Judge. A person appointed to the post of an ad-hoc judge enjoys the adjudication, powers and privileges of a judge of the same Supreme Court during his tenure. It is mentioned in Article 127 .
Article 128 provides that the Chief Justice of India may at any time request a retired judge of the Supreme Court or High Court to serve in the Supreme Court for a short period. But the Chief Justice can do so only with the prior permission of the person concerned and the President.
Such a judge enjoys the allowances prescribed by the President. He is entitled to adjudication, powers and privileges like other judges of the Supreme Court but he is not considered to be a judge of the Supreme Court. Whereas an ad hoc judge is treated as a judge just like other judges.
Supreme Court of India Location
Under Article 130 , the Constitution declared Delhi as the location of the Supreme Court. But the Chief Justice has also been given the right to shift the place of the Supreme Court elsewhere, if he wants, but he can do so only after the prior permission of the President.
Under Article 145, the Supreme Court can make rules or statutes for the regulation or operation of the Court. But he can do this only after the approval of the President.
You must have noticed here that in most of the cases the Supreme Court can do something only after the permission of the President. This has been done so that the balance of power is maintained. If not, then the Supreme Court can be autocratic.
But you will note one more thing that the process of removal of judges has been made complicated, such provisions have tried to ensure that the courts remain sufficiently independent. Read the given article to know how independent the Supreme Court is in the true sense .
Overall, here we have understood the basics of the Supreme Court. We will also explore other aspects of the Supreme Court in the next article. All the links are given below in order-
⚫ Other Important Articles ⚫
Polity of India
supreme court of india Handbook