Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court, since its inception, was empowered with jurisdiction far greater than that of any comparable court anywhere in the world.

As a federal court, it has exclusive jurisdiction to determine disputes between the Union of India and any state and the states inter-se. Under Article 32, it issue writs for enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

As an appellate court, it could hear appeals from the state high courts on civil, criminal and constitutional matters.

It has the special appellate power under Article 136 to grant leave to appeal from any tribunal or court. Thus, it is a forum for the redressing of grievance not only in its jurisdiction as conferred by the constitution, but also as a platform and forum for every grievance in the country which requires judicial intervention.

The Supreme Court, with the present strength of 30 judges and a chief justice, is the repository of all judicial powers at the national level. Supreme Court judges holds office until they reach the age of 65 years.

Restatements of Indian Law

The restatements are a joint project of the Indian Law Institute and the Supreme Court Project Committee of Restatement of Indian Law.

Three separate publishers were selected for the restatements: Lexis Nexis-Butterworths; CCH,and Universal Law Publishing Co. Legal professionals would like to have the Restatements of India Law posted on the Legal Information Institute of India (LIIofIndia) or IndLII.

The 3 first restaments are:

  • Legislative Privilege – This subject was chosen partly on account of the sharp focus it brings to the principle of ‘checks and balances’ vis-a-vis the two important organs of State – the Legislature and the Judiciary.
  • Contempt of Court – The subject was chosen on account of the fact that the power of contempt is a necessary concomitant of a court of record. It must be exercised judiciously, in a manner that balances the need for preserving and upholding the rule of law as well as the integrity of the judicial system, while at the same time avoiding untoward incursions into that precious right of freedom of speech and expression.
  • Public Interest Litigation – The Committee chose ‘Public Interest Litigation’ as the third area for restatement on account of the unique contribution of the Supreme Court of India in facilitating access to justice by liberalizing the principle of locus standi. The circuitous journey of PIL and associated discrete judicial thoughts necessitated a clarion, which this restatement aims at.

Online Resources

    • is the official website of the Supreme Court of India.  It contains information about the full text of the Constitution of India, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, golden jubilee celebration, Rules, former CJI’s, present CJI and judges, calendar of the Supreme Court, registrars, and former judges. This site also has links to “ Indian Courts ”, “ JUDIS ”, “ Daily Orders ”, “ Case Status ”, “ Cause List ”, “ Courts Websites ”, and India Code . Home page of “Judges Library can also be accessed through this website.
    • The Supreme Court judges’ library has developed some very useful in-house legal databases, namely “JUDIS”,  “ SUPLIS” “SUPLIB ”,  “LEGISLATION ”, “CATALOGUE”, “EQUIVALENT CITATION TABLE”, “UNION CATALOGUE” and “CURRENT LEGAL JOURNALS”. In addition to these In-House databases links for many “Open source” law journals and websites have also been provided on “HOME PAGE” of Judges Library which may be useful to the legal fraternity.(1)
    •”>SUPLIS (Database of Case Laws): SUPLIS is an indexing database of case laws decided by the honorable Supreme Court. This database consists of more than 42,000 case laws since 1950. This database is very useful in finding out the desired case laws.  As soon as a cyclostyled copy of any judgment is received in the library it is immediately entered in this database after assigning subject headings and a famous case name (if any). This database is unique, as it contain s some important features that are not available in other legal databases developed by commercial vendors. Besides retrieval of case laws by subject and case title, it also provides search capability by a “famous case name” (if any) assigned at the time of the entry – for example: “Bhopal Gas Case”, “Rajiv Gandhi assassination case,” “Mandal Commission Case,” etc. SUPLIS also provides “equivalent citations” of case laws so that, in the event that a particular journal is unavailable, that case law could be made available from another journal with the help of this facility.
    • Research articles published in various law reports and academic journals contain valuable information as they are written after comprehensive research on the aspect they deal with. SUPLIB is a database of legal articles published in about 200 foreign and Indian law reports subscribed to by the library. Presently, this database consists of more than 12,000 articles. Immediately after receipt of a journal in the library, important articles are identified, indexed, and entered in this database under all possible subject headings. This database is very useful for the library staff for identifying the articles needed by the honorable judges on a particular aspect and is one of the most used databases in the Supreme Court Judges Library.
    • Legislations (Database of Acts, Rules & all Statutory Materials): Statutory materials such as bills, acts, joint committee reports, select committee reports, law commission reports, parliamentary and assembly debates, rules, by-laws, schemes, etc., are among the most important and sought-after library materials in any law library. The Legislative Database is a database for central government acts including amendments, rules, bills, and all subordinate legislations relating to central as well as state acts.  This database is very useful for tracing the complete legislative history of any particular central or state act.  All the amendments in acts, rules, schemes and by-laws framed under any particular enactment could be readily identified and retrieved with the help of their citations / source given in this database.  If the text of any particular central act is desired, a link for “India Code,” which is a database of the Ministry of Law, is also provided to access the full text of the desired central act.
    • (Equivalent Citation Tables):“Equivalent Citation Table” is a useful tool to know the “Parallel Citations” of cases published in different journals.  Presently, no equivalent citation table is available which may provide equivalent citation of the cases published in different journals.  If a person has a citation of the law report not accessible to him, he may require the parallel citation of that case in other journals, so that he may find the required case in any other journal.  Supreme Court Judges Library has developed an “Equivalent Citation Table” through which one can find the parallel citation of the cases reported in five major journals reporting the supreme court cases namely Supreme Court Reports (SCR), Supreme Court Cases (SCC), All India Reporter, Supreme Court Part [AIR (SC)], Judgments Today (JT) and Supreme Court Almanac (SCALE).  This database is updated from time to time and contains the equivalent citations of Supreme Court judgments from 1950 till date.  All the citations have been arranged in chronological sequence in descending order.
    • Union Catalogue of Current Legal Journals: This database contains a complete catalogue of current journals subscribed in Supreme Court Library and all the High Court Libraries in the country.  This Catalogue serves as a “Location Tool” for finding out the availability of any Law Journal.  If any journal cited by the Advocate is not available in the Supreme Court Library, through this catalogue availability of that journal in different High Court libraries is ascertained and immediate telephonic request is sent to the respective High Court for sending a copy of the required judgment immediately through “FAX” so that the cited judgment may be provided to the courts.

History and More Information

The Supreme Court came into being on January 28, 1950. The inauguration took place in the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament building. The Chamber of Princes had earlier been the seat of the Federal Court of India for 12 years, between 1937 and 1950, and was the seat of the Supreme Court until the Supreme Court acquired its present premises in 1958. After its inauguration on January 28, 1950, the Supreme Court started its sittings in the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament House.

Composition of the Supreme Court of India

The original Constitution of India in 1950 supplied the Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 lower-ranking Judges leaving it to Parliament to increase this number. In the past, a full bench of the Supreme Court sat together to hear the cases presented before them. As the work of the Court increased and cases began to compile, Parliament increased the number of Judges from 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978 and 26 in 1986. As the number of the Judges has increased, they sit in smaller Benches of two and three coming together in larger Benches of 5 and more only when required to do so or to settle a difference of opinion or controversy. Any bench may refer the case up to a larger bench if the need arises.

The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice of India and not more than 25 other Judges appointed by the President of India. However, the President must appoint judges in consultation with the Supreme Court and appointments are made on the basis of experience and seniority and not on political pressure. A Supreme Court Judge retires after attaining the age of 65 years.

In order to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be a citizen of India and must have been, for at least five years, been a Judge of High Court or of two or more such Courts in-continuation, or he must be an Advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession for at least 10 years, or the person must be, in the opinion of the President, a Renowned Legal Expert. The Supreme Court has always maintained a wide regional representation. It also has had a good number of Judges belonging to different religious and ethnic minorities. The first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court was Justice Fatima Beevi in 1987. She was later succeded by Justices Sujata Manohar and Ruma Pal. The first Dalit to become a judge was Justice K.G. Balakrishnan in 2000. He also became the Chief Justice of India in 2007. Justice B.P.Jeevan Reddy was so intellectual that he was appointed as the Chairman of the Law Commission of India even though he was not the chief justice of India.

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India Original Jurisdiction: It has exclusive original jurisdiction over any conflict between the Government of India and one or more States or between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other or between two or more States, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends. In addition, Article 32 of the Constitution grants an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

Appellate (appeal) Jurisdiction: The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be raised by a certificate granted by the High Court concerned under Articles 132(1), 133(1) or 134 of the Constitution in respect of any judgement, enactment or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court can also grant special leave to appeal from a judgement or order of any non-military Indian court. Parliament has the power to enlarge the appeal jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and has exercised this power in case of criminal appeals by enacting the Supreme Court Act, of 1970.

Appeals also lie to the Supreme Court in civil matters if the High Court certifies:

  • That the case involves essential question of law of general importance, and
  • That, in the opinion of the high court, the said question needs to be decided by the supreme court.

In criminal cases, an appeal lies to the supreme court if the high court:

  • Has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years, or
  • Has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any Court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused and sentenced him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years, or
  • Certified that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court. Parliament is authorised to confer on the Supreme Court any further powers to entertain and hear appeals from any judgement, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court.

Advisory Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court has special advisory jurisdiction in matters which may specifically be referred to the President of India under Article 143 of the Constitution.

Judicial independence of the Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India The Constitution ensures the independence of Supreme Court Judges in various way. A Judge of the Supreme Court cannot be removed from office except by an order of the President passed after an address in each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of members present and voting, and presented to the President in the same Session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. A person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court is prevented from practising in any court of law or before any other authorization in India.

Powers of the Supreme Court of India to Punish Contempt

Under Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution the Supreme Court has been given the power to punish anyone for contempt of any law court in India including itself. The Supreme Court took an exceptional decision by giving the sitting Minister of the state of Maharashtra to be prisoned for a month on the charge of contempt of court on May 12, 2006. This was the first time that a serving Minister was ever put behind bars.

Source: Jupiter Infomedia



These databases can be accessed through  the website of the Supreme Court of India by clicking the link “Judges Library”. Home Page of “Judges Library” appears by clicking this link.

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