Supreme Court of India

About Supreme Court of India Important from UPSC polity Mains and Prelims perspective

Supreme court of india

The Supreme Court of India is the final court of appeal and the highest court in the judicial hierarchy in India. Supreme Court of India also has the power of review of the laws made by Constitution of India.

Chief Justice of Supreme Court is the head of Supreme Court of India and also the Judiciary of India.

Current Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India is Ranjan Gogoi. He is the 46th Chief Justice of India (CJI). He would assume office on October 3 2018, after the present CJI of India, Deepak Misra retires on October 2.

Ranjan Gogoi is also the first Chief Justice of India from North East India.

Indian judicial System

In India there is a Clear distribution of powers between the states and the Union but same has not been done in the case of Judicial powers. Our Judicial system is unified and integrated. Among the three organs of the state i.e., The Executive, the Legislative & the Judiciary, Judiciary enjoys the topmost position.

What are the types of Judicial Benches?

  1. Supreme Court of India

(a) Constitutional / Full Bench – It constitutes of five or more judges of the Supreme Court.

(b) Divisional Bench – It  constitutes of two or more judges of the Supreme Court but in case of participants of the Chief Justice three or more judges of the Supreme Court.

  1. High Court

(a) Full Bench – 3 or more Judges

(b) Divisional Bench – 2 or more Judges.

(c) Single Bench – only one Judge.

The Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India The essence of a federal Constitution lies in the clear division of powers between the Central Governments and State Governments. This division is made by a written constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Land.

To maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, there must be an independent and impartial authority to adjudicate on the disputes between the Centre and the States or between the States.

Some Powers exclusive to Supreme Court of India:

–> Supreme Court of India is the highest and final interpreter of the general law of the country.

–> The court is the final interpreter and Guardian of the Constitution.

–> Plus, it is also the Guardian of the Fundamental Rights of the people.

–> Supreme Court of India is the highest court of appeal in civil and criminal matters.

Number of Judges in Supreme court of India

When The Constitution came into being, it provided for a Chief Justice and not more than seven other Judges.

The Parliament is empowered to prescribe by law a larger number of Judges. Under this power the Parliament has now increased the number of Judges to thirty one, including the Chief justice.

There are currently 25 judges (including Chief Justice of India) against a maximum possible strength of 31.

Appointment of Judges in Supreme court

 President of India appoints the Judges of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President with the consultation of such number of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts as he may deem necessary for the purpose.

While appointing other Judges the president shall always consult the Chief Justice of India. He may also consult such other Judges of the Supreme Court and high courts as he may deem necessary.

 Role of Chief Justice of India in the appointment of Judges:

Opinion of Chief justice of India in the appointment of the Judges of the Supreme court and High Courts and in the transfer of the Judges of the High Court’s shall enjoy primacy.

The Chief Justice of India is the sole authority to initiate the proposal for the appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court of India.

Chief Justice of India shares this role with the Chief Justices of the High Courts in relation to the appointment and transfers of the judges of the High Courts.

Opinion of The Chief Justice of India is the determinative factor in the matter of transfer of High Court Judges and Chief Justices of the High Courts.

The Chief Justice of India may also seek the opinion of a High Court judge or  Chief Justice of High Court. Such opinions must be sought in writing.

 Safeguards for maintaining the Impartiality of Supreme Court Judges.

a) Chief Justice of India have to be consulted by the president before appointing a person to be a judge of the Supreme Court.

b) A judge of the Supreme Court once appointed, can only be removed from office by the President, on the basis of a resolution passed by both the Houses of the Parliament.
It Should be passed separately with a majority of not less than two-third of the members present and voting on ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity of the judge in question.

c) After retirement (retirement age is 65 years), a judge of the Supreme Court is prohibited from practicing or acting as a judge in any Court or before any authority in India. The only exception is when the Chief justice of India appoints a retired judge of the supreme court to act as an adhoc judge of the Supreme Court.

d) The salaries and allowances of the judges of the Supreme Court and the administrative expenses of the Court are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and are not subject to the vote of the parliament.

e) Except during a financial emergency, the salaries and allowances of the Judges of the Supreme Court cannot be varied to their disadvantage.

f) The conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court cannot be discussed in the Parliament except on the resolution for this removal.

Role of the Supreme Court (SC) in strengthening the constitution

Constitution of India provided multiple roles to the Supreme Court of India, they are:

  1. SC acts custodian of the Constitution, guarantor of the Fundamental rights and final interpreter of the Constitution.
  2. The Supreme Court has been described as a continuous Constitutional convention, as it continues to expand the scope of the Constitution in conformity with the growing demands of the Indian society.
  3. It is primarily through the power of the judicial review that the court has been helping in the growth of the Constitution.
  4. Whenever there was a parliamentary threat to the constitution the court succeeded in protecting through various decisions, culminating in the doctrine of ‘Basic Structure’ as propounded in the Kesavananda Bharati case.
  1. With taking upon itself the role of a crusader aimed at extending a corruption free administration and impartial environment for all the people of India through a new phenomenon known as judicial activism.
    The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a big incorporation by Supreme court in this regard.

 Qualifications for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court

  1.  He has to be a citizen of India; and
  2.  have been a judge of a High Court or two or more such courts in succession for at least five years; or
  3.  be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President.

Appointment of adhoc Judges

If at any time there is a lack of a quorum of the Judges of the Supreme court available to hold  any session in the Court. Then the Chief Justice of India may with the previous consent of the President and after consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court concerned, request in witting the attendance at the sittings of the court as an adhoc Judge for such period as may be necessary of a Judge of a High Court duly qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court (Art 127).

Removal of Judges of the Supreme Court

Under Art 124(4), constitution of India provided that a judge of the Supreme Court India can be removed by President only after an address by each House of the Parliament, i.e. Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha.

 The removal should be supported by a majority of the total membership of that house and by majority of not less than two-thirds of members of that house present and voting on the ground of proved misbehavior on incapacity.

Parliament of IndiaParliament under Art.124 (5) may, by law, regulate the procedure for the presentation of an address and for the investigation and proof of the misbehavior or incapacity of a judge. Accordingly Parliament in 1968 passed judges (Inquiry Act.)

Under this Act, a motion seeking the removal of a judge can be preferred before either house of the Parliament. If it is to be introduced in the Lok Sabha, it should be signed by not less than 100 members of Lok Sabha.
If it is to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the motion should be signed by not less than 50 Members.

The motion can be moved only after giving a prior notice of 14 days to that judge who has to be removed

After being properly introduced the presiding officers of that house appoints three member judicial committee to inquire into that misbehavior of incapacitation of the accused judge.

The head of the judicial Committee shall be a serving judge of the Supreme Court of India. Of the other two members one should be a serving member of Supreme Court or a High Court and another one may be an eminent Jurist.

The Judge in question has the right to defend himself or through his counsel before the Judicial Committee. The Committee then submits its report to the presiding officer of the House in which the motion for the removal of that judge has been introduced.

The Parliament by itself may or may not act upon the report of the Judicial Committee. Parliament cannot take up the motion if the Judicial Committee failed to establish proof of misbehavior or incapacity.

If the  House which originated the motion passes the motion with required majority it then  moves to the other House which should also pass the motion with the same majority, i.e.,  a majority of the total membership of that house and by majority of not less than two-thirds of members of that house present and voting.

After being passed by both the houses of Parliament it then goes for the assent of the President in the same session of the Parliament in which the address has been passed.  The President then removes the Judge in question from the office.

 

 

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