SSC CGL Study Notes: Polity (Supreme Court of India)

Polity Notes for SSC GGL Exam

Supreme Court of India

Overview: The Supreme Court of India is decreed by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution
It was established on 28 Jan 1950
According to the Constitution, the role of the Supreme Court is that of a federal court, guardian of the Constitution and the highest court of appeal
The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction

About the Supreme Court building
The first home of the Supreme Court was the Chamber of Princes of the Parliament building, which had been the seat of the Federal Court of India.The Court moved to the present premises in 1958.The present premises was designed by Ganesh Bhikaji Deolalikar


Judges of the Supreme Court
-The Supreme Court consists of 31 judges – one Chief Justice and 30 other Justices
-The Constitution originally provided for 7 judges in the Court. However, due to increased workloads, this number has been gradually increased, reaching 31 in 2008
-Judges in the Supreme Court sit together in Benches to hear cases
-A small Bench, with two to three Justices, is called a Division Bench
-A large Bench, with five or more Justices, is called a Constitutional Bench
-A Division Bench may refer a case up to a Constitutional Bench if desired
-The first woman judge of the Supreme Court was Justice Fatima Beevi in 1987. However, there has been no female Chief Justice

Terms of service
Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President
Judges of the Supreme Court retire at the age of 65
Must be a citizen of India
Must have been one of the following
A judge of a High Court for at least 5 years
An advocate of a High Court for at least 10 years
A distinguished jurist, in the opinion of the President

Ad hoc Judges
Ad hoc Judges are non-Supreme Court judges who sit in the Supreme Court when there is insufficient quorum to perform the judicial duties. Ad hoc Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice after obtaining consent from the President. Serving and retired judges of the Supreme Court (and High Courts) can sit and act as ad hoc Judges of the Supreme Court. Only such persons can be appointed as ad hoc Judges who are qualified to be appointed as a regular Judge of the Supreme Court

The office of the Chief Justice
-The senior most judge of the Supreme Court is appointed as the Chief Justice
-The Chief Justice remains in office for 5 years or until retirement, whichever is earlier
-The Chief Justice is responsible for allocation of work to other judges
-Other judges may refer cases to him if a bench of higher strength is required
-The Chief Justice administers the oath of office to the President In the absence of the President and the Vice-President, the Chief Justice sits as the Acting President of India
-The Chief Justice is the ex-officio Chancellor to most autonomous law schools in India

Note worthy Chief Justices
-The current Chief Justice (T.S Thakur ) is the 43rd Chief Justice of India. He is from Kerala
-The first Chief Justice of India was H J Kania (1950 – 1951). Before appointment to the Supreme Court, he served as the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of India (1947 – 1950). He was from Bombay
-The shortest tenure was for K N Singh (Nov 1991 – Dec 1991, UP)
-The longest tenure was for Y V Chandrachud (1978 – 1985, Bombay)


-The salaries and allowances of Judges are charged to the Consolidated Fund of India and are not subject to a vote of Parliament
-The salaries and other service conditions of Judges cannot be changed to their disadvantage during their tenure
-Judges can be removed only by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament passed with a two-third majority
-Judges can be removed only on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity
-Judges are barred from practicing in any court after retirement
-The decisions and actions of Judges cannot be criticized. Disrespect to Court authority can invite Contempt of Court proceedings
-The conduct of Judges cannot be discussed in Parliament or state legislatures
-The appointment of Judges does not depend on the discretion of the President. Judges are appointed by the President in consultation with other Judges of the Supreme Court, while the Chief Justice is appointed based on seniorityThe Court enjoys complete freedom with respect to appointment of officers of the Court


Original Jurisdiction
Original Jurisdiction means that certain types of cases can originate with the Supreme Court only
The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in
-Disputes between the Centre and one or more states
-Disputes between the Centre and any state(s) on one side and one or more states on the other side
-Disputes between two or more states
-Disputes regarding the enforcement of Fundamental Rights

Appellate Jurisdiction
Appellate Jurisdiction means that appeals against judgements of lower courts can be referred to it.The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the country
Three types of cases fall with appellate jurisdiction:
Constitutional cases: an appeal against a High Court judgement can be made to the Supreme Court if the High Court determines that the case involves questions on the interpretation of the Constitution
Civil cases: an appeal can be made in civil cases if the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance, and that the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court
Criminal cases: an appeal can be made in criminal cases if the High Court has reversed an acquittal and sentenced a person to death, or has taken up a case from a subordinate court and sentenced an accused to death interestingly,if the High Court reverses a conviction and orders acquittal, no appeal to the Supreme Court can be made

Advisory Jurisdiction
Advisory Jurisdiction refers to the process where the President seeks the Court’s advice on legal mattersIf the President asks for advice from the Supreme Court, the Court is duty-bound to give it. However, it not binding on the President to accept the advice


Court of Record
The Supreme Court is a court of record:-What this means is that its records are admitted to be of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court.As a court of record, it also enjoys the power to punish for contempt of court

Judicial Review
Judicial Review means that the Court can ensure that laws passed by the legislature and orders issued by the executive do not contravene the Constitution.If these laws or orders go against the Constitution, the Court can declare them unconstitutional and hence invalid.The Court also protects the Fundamental Rights of citizens through various types of writs

Other powers
The Supreme Court appoints its officers and servants in consultation with the UPSC and determines their conditions of service, in consultation with the President.It can make rules regarding the practice and procedure of the court with the approval of the President.It can appoint arbitrators to decide cases relating to costs incurred by state governments in carrying out directions of the Union government.It adjudicates disputes relating to the election of the President and Vice-President.It can recommend the removal of the Chairman and members of the UPSC to the President

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