The Supreme Court

Unlike the other two branches, executive and legislature, in India Judiciary is integrated. This means that even though there may be High Courts in states, the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India (Article 141). Now let’s look into the details of each article dealing with the Union Judiciary.

Article 124: Establishment and Constitution of Supreme Court

(1) There shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven other Judges.
(2) Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years:
Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted:
Provided further that –
(a) a Judge may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office;
(b) a judge may be removed from his office in the manner provide in clause (4).
(2A) The age of a Judge of the Supreme Court shall be determined by such authority and in such manner as Parliament may by law provide.
(3) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court unless he is a citizen of India and –
(a) has been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
(b) has been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
(c) is, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.
Explanation I: In this clause “High Court” means a High Court which exercises, or which at any time before the commencement of this Constitution exercised, jurisdiction in any part of the territory of India.
Explanation II: In computing for the purpose of this clause the period during which a a person has been an advocate, any period during which a person has held judicial office not inferior to that of a district judge after he became an advocate shall be included.
(4) A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
(5) Parliament may by law regulate the procedure for the presentation of an address and for the investigation and proof of the misbehaviour or incapacity of a Judge under clause (4).
(6) Every person appointed to be a Judge of the Supreme Court shall, before he enters upon his office, make and subscribe before the President, or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
(7) No person who has held office as a Judge of the Supreme Court shall plead or act in any court of before any authority within the territory of India.

Article 125: Salaries, etc., of Judges

(1) There shall be paid to the Judges of the Supreme Court such salaries as may be determined by Parliament by law and, until provision in that behalf is so made, such salaries as are specified in the Second Schedule.
(2) Every Judge shall be entitled to such privileges and allowances and to such rights in respect of leave of absence and pension as may from time to time be determined by or under law made by Parliament and, until so determined, to such privileges, allowances and rights as are specified in the Second Schedule:
Provided that neither the privileges not the allowances of a Judge nor his rights in respect of leave of absence or pension shall be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.

Article 126: Appointment of acting Chief Justice

When the office of Chief Justice of India is vacant or when the Chief Justice is, by reason of absence or otherwise, unable to perform the duties of his office, the duties of the office shall be performed by such one of the other Judges of the Court as the President may appoint for the purpose.

Article 127: Appointment of ad hoc Judges

(1) If at any time there should not be a quorum of the Judges of the Supreme Court available to hold or continue any session of the Court, the Chief Justice of India may, with the previous consent of the President and after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned, request in writing the attendance at the sittings of the Court, as an ad hoc 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 to be designated by the Chief Justice of India.
(2) It shall be the duty of the Judge who has been so designated, in priority to other duties of his office to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court at the time and for the period for which his attendance is required, and while so attending he shall have all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges, and shall discharge the duties, of a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Article 128: Attendance of retired Judges at sittings of the Supreme Court

Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Chief Justice of India may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who as held the office of a Judge of the Supreme Court or of the Federal Court or who has held the office of a Judge of a High Court and is duly qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court to sit and act as a Judge of the Supreme Court, and every such person so requested shall, while so sitting and acting, be entitled to such allowances as the President may by order determine and have all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges of, but shall not otherwise be deemed to be, a Judge of that Court:
Provided that nothing in this article shall be deemed to require any such person as aforesaid to sit and act as a Judge of that Court unless he consents so to do.

Article 129: Supreme Court to be a court of record

The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Article 130: Seat of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.

Article 131: Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute –
(a) between the Government of India and one or more States; or
(b) between the Government of India and any State of States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
(c) between two or more States.

if and in so far as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends:
Provided that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad of other similar instrument which, having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution, continues in operation after such commencement or which provides that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.

Article 131A: Executive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in regard to questions as to constitutional validity of Central laws
{…} —Repealed.

Article 132: Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in appeals from High Court in certain cases

(1) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgement, decree of final order of a High Court in the territory of India, whether in a civil, criminal or other proceeding, if the High Court certifies under article 134A that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution.
(2) {…}
(3) Where such a certificate is given, any party in the case may appeal to the Supreme Court on the ground that any such question as aforesaid has been wrongly decided.
Explanation: For the purpose of this article, the expression “final order” includes an order deciding an issue which, if decided in favour of the appellant, would be sufficient for the final disposal of the case.

Article 133: Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in appeals from High Courts in regard to civil matters

(1) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court room any judgement, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court certifies under article 134A –
(a) that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance; and
(b) that in the opinion of the High Court the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in article 132, any party appealing to the Supreme Court under clause (1) may urge as one of the grounds in such appeal that a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution has been wrongly decided.
(3) Notwithstanding anything in this article, no appeal shall, unless Parliament by law otherwise provides, lie to the Supreme Court from the judgement, decree or final order of one Judge of a High Court.

Article 134: Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in regard to criminal matters

(1) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgement, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court –
(a) has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death; or
(b) has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused person and sentenced him to death; or
(c) certified under article 134A that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court:
Provided that an appeal under sub-clause (c) shall lie subject to such provisions as may be made in that behalf under clause (1) of article 145 and to such conditions as the High Court may establish or require.
(2) Parliament may by law confer on the Supreme Court any further powers to entertain and hear appeals from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India subject to such conditions and limitations as may be specified in such law.

Article 134A: Certificate for appeal to the Supreme Court

Every High Court, passing or making a judgment, decree, final order, or sentence, referred to in clause (1) of article 132 or clause (1) of article 133, or clause (1) of article 134, –
(a) may, if it deems fit so to do, on its own motion; and
(b) shall, if an oral application is made, by or on behalf of the party aggrieved, immediately after the passing or making of such judgment, decree final order or sentence,
determine, as soon as may be after such passing or making, the question whether a certificate of the nature referred to in clause (1) of article 132, or clause (1) or article 133 or, as the case may be, sub-clause (c) of clause (1) of article 134, may be given in respect of that case.

Article 135: Jurisdiction and powers of the Federal Court under existing law to be exercisable by the Supreme Court

Until Parliament by law otherwise provides, the Supreme Court shall also have jurisdiction and powers with respect to any matter to which the provisions of article 133 or article 134 do not apply if jurisdiction and powers in relation to that matter were exercisable by the Federal Court immediately before the commencement of this Constitution under any existing law.

Article 136: Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court

(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.
(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.

Article 137: Review of judgements or orders by the Supreme Court

Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament or any rules made under article 145, the Supreme Court shall have power to review any judgment pronounced or order made by it.

Article 138: Enlargement of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

(1) The Supreme Court shall have such further jurisdiction and powers with respect to any of the matters in the Union List as Parliament may by law confer.
(2) The Supreme Court shall have such further jurisdiction and powers with respect to any matter as the Government of India and the Government of any State may by special agreement confer, if Parliament by law provides for the exercise of such jurisdiction and powers by the Supreme Court.

Article 139: Conferment on the Supreme Court of powers to issue certain writs

Parliament may by law confer on the Supreme Court power to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for any purposes other than those mentioned in clause (2) of article 32.

Article 139A: Transfer of certain cases

(1) Where cases involving the same or substantially the same questions of law are pending before the Supreme Court and one or more High Courts or before two or more High Courts and the Supreme Court is satisfied on its own motion or on an application made by the Attorney-General of India or by a party to any such case that such questions are substantial questions of general importance, the Supreme Court may withdraw the case or cases pending before the High Court of the High Courts and dispose of all the cases itself:
Provided that the Supreme Court may after determining the said questions of law return any case so withdrawn together with a copy of its judgment on such questions to the High Court from which the case has been withdrawn, and the High Court shall on receipt thereof, proceed to dispose of the case in conformity with such judgment.
(2) The Supreme Court may, if it deems it expedient so to do for the ends of justice, transfer any case, appeal or other proceedings pending before any High Court to any other High Court.

Article 140: Ancillary powers of Supreme Court

Parliament may by law make provision for conferring upon the Supreme Court such supplemental powers not inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Constitution as may appear to be necessary or desirable for the purpose of enabling the Court more effectively to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by or under this Constitution.

Article 141: Law declared by Supreme Court to be binding on all courts

The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India.

Article 142: Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc.

(1) The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.
(2) Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself.

Article 143: Power of President to consult Supreme Court

(1) If at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, which is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it, he may refer the question to that Court for consideration and the Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.
(2) The President may, notwithstanding anything in the proviso to article 131, refer a dispute of the kind mentioned in the said proviso to the Supreme Court for opinion and the Supreme Court shall, after hearing as it things fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.

Article 144: Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court

All authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court.