Discuss the Structure and Functions of the Supreme Court of India?
Discuss the Structure and Functions of the Supreme Court of India?
The Supreme Court of India, established on January 28, 1950, is the highest judicial authority in the country, serving as the final court of appeal and the guardian of the Constitution. It comprises the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and 33 other judges, appointed by the President of India through a collegium system led by the CJI. Judges hold office until the age of 65 and can be removed via impeachment for misbehavior or incapacity.

The Supreme Court of India, established on January 28, 1950, is the highest judicial authority in the country. It stands at the apex of the Indian judiciary, acting as the final court of appeal, the guardian of the Constitution, and the protector of fundamental rights. Its structure and functions are designed to ensure justice, maintain the rule of law, and uphold the democratic framework of India.

Structure of the Supreme Court of India

1. Composition:
The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and a sanctioned strength of 33 other judges, making a total of 34 judges. The President of India appoints the judges of the Supreme Court. The collegium system, led by the CJI and including the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, plays a significant role in the appointment process.

2. Qualifications and Tenure:
To be eligible for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be:

  • A citizen of India.
  • A judge of one or more High Courts for at least five years, or
  • An advocate of a High Court (or High Courts in succession) for at least ten years, or
  • A distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President.

Judges hold office until they reach the age of 65. They can resign by writing to the President or can be removed through a process of impeachment for proven misbehavior or incapacity.

3. Hierarchical Structure:

  • Chief Justice of India (CJI): The CJI is the head of the Supreme Court and has significant administrative responsibilities, including the allocation of cases and the constitution of benches.
  • Associate Judges: The other judges work in collaboration with the CJI, often sitting in benches of two or more to hear cases.

4. Benches:
The Supreme Court operates through various benches:

  • Single Judge Bench: For chamber matters and admission of special leave petitions.
  • Division Bench: Comprising two or three judges, usually handling routine appeals.
  • Constitution Bench: Comprising at least five judges, convened to decide on substantial questions of law regarding the interpretation of the Constitution.

Functions of the Supreme Court of India

1. Judicial Review:
The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review, enabling it to invalidate laws and executive actions that violate the Constitution. This ensures that all branches of government operate within their constitutional limits.

2. Appellate Jurisdiction:
The Supreme Court hears appeals against the judgments of High Courts and other subordinate courts. This jurisdiction covers civil, criminal, and constitutional matters. Appeals can be made via special leave petitions under Article 136 of the Constitution.

3. Original Jurisdiction:
Under Article 131, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in disputes between:

  • The Government of India and one or more States.
  • The Government of India and any State(s) on one side and one or more States on the other.
  • Two or more States.

4. Advisory Jurisdiction:
The President of India can seek the Supreme Court's opinion on any question of law or fact of public importance under Article 143. While the court’s opinion is not binding, it holds considerable persuasive value.

5. Protection of Fundamental Rights:
The Supreme Court ensures the protection of fundamental rights through writ jurisdiction under Article 32. It can issue writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari to enforce these rights.

6. Interpretation of the Constitution:
The Supreme Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution. Its rulings on constitutional matters set precedents that guide the functioning of the legislative and executive branches.

7. Special Powers:
The Supreme Court can exercise extraordinary powers to ensure complete justice under Article 142. This provision allows the court to pass any order necessary to do complete justice in any case or matter pending before it.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court of India, with its comprehensive structure and multifaceted functions, plays a pivotal role in maintaining the sanctity of the Constitution, protecting the rights of individuals, and ensuring the smooth functioning of democracy. Its independence, authority, and commitment to justice make it a cornerstone of the Indian legal system.

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