Supreme Court of India - Indian Polity Notes

The Supreme Court of India is the country’s highest judicial court. It is the final court of appeal in the country. It is hence, an extremely important topic in the UPSC exam polity and governance sections. In this article, you can read all about the Supreme Court of India for the IAS exam.

Latest Updates related to the Indian Supreme Court:

  1. 15th February 2021: Former Supreme Court Judge, Justice PB Sawant Passed Away on this day.
  2. Supreme Court is examining a petition relating to the Social Media Firm Facebook and its Messaging Application WhatsApp over their terms of service and privacy policy that were to be out on February 8th, 2021.
  3. 13th February 2021: Statement from Supreme Court while dismissing a review petition on the anti-citizenship law protests held in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh in 2019 – “Right To Protest Cannot Be Anytime, Everywhere.”

Learn about major 25 Important Supreme Court Judgements for UPSC and related notes in the linked article.

Supreme Court History

  • The Federal Court of India was created as per the Government of India Act 1935.
  • This court settled disputes between provinces and federal states and heard appeals against judgements of the high courts.
  • After independence, the Federal Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were replaced by the Supreme Court of India, which came into being in January 1950.
  • The Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with one Chief Justice and 7 puisne Judges.
  • The number of SC judges was increased by the Parliament and currently, there are 34 judges including the Chief Justice of India (CJI). 

Supreme Court of India – Functions

  • It takes up appeals against the verdicts of the High Courts, other courts and tribunals.
  • It settles disputes between various government authorities, between state governments, and between the centre and any state government.
  • It also hears 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

The jurisdiction of the SC is of three types:

  1. Original – Read in detail about Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in the linked article. 
  2. Advisory – Notes on Advisory Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court are given in the linked article. 
  3. Appellate 

Supreme Court Composition

  • Including the CJI, there are 34 judges in the Supreme Court.
  • The judges sit in benches of 2 or 3 (called a Division Bench) or in benches of 5 or more (called a Constitutional Bench) when there are matters of fundamental questions of the law is to be decided.

Read about Indian Judiciary in detail in the linked article.

The Procedure of the Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India has powers to consult the President to regulate the practice and procedure of the Court.

The Constitutional Cases are usually decided by a bench consisting of five judges whereas other cases are decided by a bench of at least three judges.

The seat of Supreme Court

As per the Constitution of India, Delhi is declared as the seat of the Supreme Court of India. However, the Chief Justice of India has the power to assign another place (s) as the seat of the Supreme Court. This is only an optional provision and not mandatory.

SC Judge Eligibility

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. he/she has been a judge of one or more High Courts, for at least 5 years, or
  2. he/she has been an advocate in one or more High Courts for at least 10 years, or
  3. he/she is in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.

Independence of Judiciary

The Constitution has many provisions to ensure the judiciary’s independence. They are discussed below:

  1. Security of tenure: The judges of the SC are given security of tenure. Once appointed, they will retain their office until the age of 65 years. They can be removed only by a presidential order on grounds of proven misbehaviour and/or incapacity. This requires a Special Majority according to Article 368. Read more about the types of majorities in Parliament in the linked article.
  2. Salaries and allowances: The judges of the SC enjoy good salaries and allowances and these cannot be decreased except in the case of a financial emergency. The expenses of the High Court are charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State, which is not subject to vote in the state legislature.
  3. Powers and Jurisdiction: The SC’s powers and jurisdiction can only be added by the Parliament and not be curtailed. 
  4. The conduct of any judge of the Supreme Court in the discharge of his/her duties cannot be discussed in the legislature.
  5. The SC has the power to punish any person for its contempt, as per Article 129. (Read about Contempt of Court in India in the linked article.)
  6. Separation of the Judiciary from the Executive: A Directive Principle of State Policy says that the state shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the state. According to Article 50, there shall be a separate judicial service free from executive control.

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Supreme Court of India – Indian Polity:-Download PDF Here

2 Comments

  1. Can i start the course for 2022 after my final year exams which will be in april and may next year? How about interview preparation? And regarding optional subject in this course.

    1. You have to be a minimum of 21. Also, a graduation degree is a must. Final year students too can appear given they obtain their marksheet before Mains exam.
      1. Understand UPSC Syllabus
      2. Start with NCERTs and complement with daily newspaper.
      3. Refer to UPSC previous years’ question papers.
      4. Read Rajiv Ahir’s Brief of Modern History, M. Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity for GS 1 and 2 respectively.
      5. Revise often.
      6. Take mock tests periodically.

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