Judicial Reforms

Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Supreme Court of India

Mains level : Read the attached story

Introduction

  • The Prime Minister inaugurated the diamond jubilee year celebrations of the Supreme Court, marking an important milestone in India’s judicial history.

About Supreme Court of India

  • Apex Judicial Body: The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial authority as per the Constitution of India.
  • Constitutional Mandate: Article 124 of the Constitution stipulates the establishment of the Supreme Court.
  • Birth of the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court came into being on January 26, 1950, coinciding with the commencement of the Indian Constitution.
  • Inauguration: Two days after India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic, the Supreme Court was officially inaugurated on January 28, 1950.
  • Initial Location: Initially, the Supreme Court operated from the old Parliament House until it relocated to its present site on Tilak Marg, New Delhi, in 1958.
  • Inaugural Event: The inaugural ceremony of the current Supreme Court building was presided over by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, on August 4, 1958.

Evolution of Judicial Bench Strength

  • Changing Dynamics: The original 1950 Constitution envisioned a Supreme Court comprising a Chief Justice and 7 puisne Judges, allowing Parliament to alter this number.
  • Progressive Growth: Over the years, the number of Judges increased to accommodate the growing workload: 8 in 1950, 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986, 31 in 2009, and the current strength of 34 Judges.
  • Judicial Structure: Judges sit in panels of two or three and convene in larger benches of 5 or more, known as Constitution Benches, to resolve conflicting decisions between different Supreme Court benches or address significant constitutional interpretations.
  • Official Language: Proceedings in the Supreme Court are conducted exclusively in English.

Powers and Jurisdiction

  • Multifaceted Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court possesses original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction.
  • Final Arbiter: It serves as the ultimate court of appeal and the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution.
  • Original Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction extends to disputes involving the Government of India and one or more States, inter-State disputes, and issues related to Fundamental Rights.
  • Writ Jurisdiction: Article 32 of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court with extensive original jurisdiction to enforce Fundamental Rights by issuing writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari.
  • Inter-High Court Cases: The Supreme Court can direct the transfer of civil or criminal cases between High Courts.
  • International Commercial Arbitration: Under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the Supreme Court can initiate International Commercial Arbitration.
  • Appellate Authority: High Courts can grant certificates for appeals to the Supreme Court under Article 132(1), 133(1), or 134 in cases with substantial questions of constitutional interpretation.
  • Certified Appeals: In civil cases, High Courts may certify that a case involves a significant question of general importance, warranting Supreme Court adjudication.
  • Criminal Appeals: In criminal cases, appeals lie to the Supreme Court if the High Court has reversed an acquittal, sentenced an accused to death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for over 10 years, or if the High Court certifies the case’s suitability for Supreme Court appeal.
  • Parliamentary Empowerment: Parliament can confer additional powers on the Supreme Court to hear appeals from High Courts in criminal proceedings.
  • Special Leave to Appeal: Under Article 136, the Supreme Court may, at its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, or order passed by any Court or Tribunal in India.
  • Advisory Role: The Supreme Court exercises advisory jurisdiction under Article 143, wherein the President of India can refer specific matters to the Court.
  • Election Petitions: Part III of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952, allows direct filing of election petitions in the Supreme Court.
  • Contempt Powers: Articles 129 and 142 empower the Supreme Court to punish for contempt of Court, including self-contempt.
  • Curative Petitions: After dismissing a review petition, the Supreme Court can reconsider its final judgment through a curative petition on limited grounds.
  • Binding Authority: As India’s highest court, its judgments are binding on all other courts in the country.

Location of the Supreme Court

  • Article 130: Article 130 of the Constitution grants the Chief Justice of India the authority to choose the location of the Supreme Court, which can be in Delhi or any other place.
  • CJI’s Discretion: The Article vests exclusive discretionary powers with the Chief Justice of India regarding the Supreme Court’s location.
  • No External Compulsion: No external authority can compel the Chief Justice to act in a particular manner under this Article.

Advocating for Circuit Benches

  • Law Commission Recommendation: The Law Commission’s 229th Report suggested establishing a Constitution Bench in New Delhi and four other benches in different regions of India.
  • Diverging Views: However, this proposal did not garner favor among Supreme Court Judges.

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