The Supreme Court of India is the country’s uppermost judicial court.

Supreme Court at the apex of the Indian Judiciary is the highest authority to uphold the Constitution of India, protect the rights and liberties of the citizens, and uphold the values of rule of law  It is the final court of appeal in the country.

Part V (The Union) and Chapter 6 titled ‘The Union Judiciary’ of the Indian Constitution provides for a provision of the Supreme Court The Constitution of India has provided an independent judiciary with a classified setup containing High Courts and Subordinate Courts under it. India is a federal State having a single and combined judicial system with a three-tier structure, i.e., Supreme Court, High Courts, and Subordinate Courts.

supreme court of india
Established1 October 1937 (as Federal Court of India)
28 January 1950 (as Supreme Court of India)
LocationTilak Marg, New Delhi
MottoYato Dharmastato Jayah (Where there is Dharma, there will be victory)
Composition methodCollegium of the Supreme Court of India
Authorized byConstitution of India
Judge term lengthMandatory retirement at 65 years of age

There shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief justice of India (CJI) and 34 judges, including the CJI as per The Indian Constitution under Article 124(1). The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India can broadly be categorized into original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction.

Article 124(1) and Amendment act of 2008 states that there shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief justice of India (CJI) and 34 judges including the CJI.  Every judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President of India by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Supreme Court judges and the High Courts in the states under Article 124(2).

The collegium system(appointment of judges to the courts) was followed which is also known as the three judges cases, which comprises the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and 4 senior-most judges of the SC, 1 Chief Justice of the High Court, and 2 of its senior-most judges. This system demanded an agreement decision of all the senior-most judges in conformity with the Chief Justice of India.

Due to an absence of transparency and delay in the appointment, a new 
Article 124 A was incorporated in the constitution, under which the 
National Judiciary Appointments Commission (NJAC) replaced the collegium system 
for the appointment of judges as mandated in the existing pre-amended 
constitution by a new system.

The NJAC consists of the following persons:

  • Chairperson- Chief Justice of India
  • Two senior-most Supreme Court judges
  • The Union Minister of Law and Justice
  • Two eminent persons were nominated by a committee consisting of CJI, the Prime minister of India, and the Leader of the Opposition.

Functions of Supreme Court of India

  • The SC takes up appeals against the judgments of the High Courts, other courts, and tribunals.
  • The SC settles disputes between various government authorities, between state governments, and between the center and any state government.
  • It also overhears matters which the President refers to it, in its advisory role.
  • The SC can also take up cases suo moto (on its own).
  • The law that SC declares is binding on all the courts in India and on the Union as well as the state governments

Supreme Court Jurisdiction

Articles 137 to 141 of the Constitution of India lay down the composition and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India.

Article 141 states that Law declared by Supreme Court is binding on all the courts in India and

Article 137 empowers Supreme Court to review its own judgment. The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India can broadly be categorized into three parts

  • Original
  • Advisory
  • Appellate 

Original Jurisdiction

Article 131 states that this jurisdiction extends to cases originating in the Supreme Court only and states that the Supreme Court of India has original and exclusive jurisdiction in cases between:

The government on one hand and one or more states on the other

Government and one or more states on one side and other states on the other

Two or more states

Appellate Jurisdiction

Article 132, 133, and, 134 The appeal lies with the Supreme Court against the High court in the following 4 categories:

  • Constitutional matters- If the High court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law that needs interpretation of the constitution.
  • Civil matters- If the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance.
  • The criminal matters– If the High court has on appeal reversed the order of acquittal of an accused and sentenced him to death or has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from subordinate court.
  • Special leave to appeal is granted by SC if it is satisfied that the case does not involve any question of law. However, it cannot be passed in case of the judgment passed by a court or tribunal of armed forces.
The Supreme Court can transfer to itself cases from one or more high courts if 
it involves the question of law in the interest of justice.

Advisory Jurisdiction

Article 143 authorizes the President of India to seek an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court in the two categories of matters:

(a) matters of public importance

(b) of any question arising out of pre-constitution, treaty, agreement, engagement, Sanad or other similar instruments.

Article 144 states that all authorities civil and judicial in India's territory shall act in the Supreme Court's aid.

Powers of the Supreme Court

1. Power to punish for contempt (civil or criminal) of court with simple imprisonment for 6 months or fine up to Rs. 2000. Civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment. Criminal contempt means doing any act which lowers the authority of the court or causes interference in judicial proceedings.

2. Judicial review to examine the constitutionality of legislative enactments and executive orders. The grounds of review is limited by Parliamentary legislation or rules made by the Supreme Court.

3. Deciding authority regarding the election of President and Vice President.

4. Enquiring authority in the conduct and behavior of UPSC members.

5. Withdraw cases pending before High Courts and dispose of them themselves.

6. Appointment of ad hoc judges- Article 127 states that if at any time there is a lack of quorum of Judges of the Supreme Court, the CJI may with the previous consent of the President and Chief Justice of the High Court, concerning request in writing the attendance of Judge of High Court duly qualified to be appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court.

7. Appointment of retired judges of the Supreme Court or High Court – Article 128 states that the CJI at any time with the previous consent of the President and the person to be so appointed can appoint any person who had previously held the office of a Judge of SC.

8. Appointment of acting Chief Justice- Article 126 states that when the office of CJI is vacant or when the Chief Justice is by reason of absence or otherwise unable to perform duties of the office, the President in such case can appoint a Judge of the court to discharge the duties of the office.

9. Revisory Jurisdiction- The Supreme Court under Article 137 is empowered to review any judgment or order made by it with a view to removing any mistake or error that might have crept in the judgment or order. 10. Supreme Court as a Court of Record- The Supreme Court is a court of record as its decisions are of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court

Eligibility of SC Judge

As per Article 124, an Indian citizen who is below 65 years of age is eligible to be recommended for appointment as a judge of the SC if:

  1. They have been a judge of one or more High Courts, for at least 5 years, or
  2. They have been an advocate in one or more High Courts for at least 10 years, or
  3. They have is in the opinion of the President, distinguished jurists.


  • Who is the Chief Justice of India?

On August 27, Justice UU Lalit will take over as the 49th Chief Justice of India after the incumbent CJI, NV Ramana, demits office

  • Who was the first Chief Justice of India?

Justice Harilal Jekisundas Kania Was The First Chief Justice Of India. He Was Appointed On 26 January 1950.

  • How many judges are there in Supreme Court?

There are currently 31 judges

  • How many supreme courts are there in India?

There is only 1 Supreme Court in India. And, there are 25 High Courts

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