Supreme Court of India UPSC NOTE

 The Supreme Court of India - Jurisdictions, Composition, Proposals for Structural changes 


  • The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial body in India. 

  • It is composed of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 33 other judges

  • The judges are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

Jurisdiction of SC

Original Jurisdiction

  • Disputes between the Government of India and one or more states

  • Disputes between states.

  • Questions relating to the interpretation of the Constitution

  • Cases in which the Supreme Court grants special leave to appeal

Appellate Jurisdiction

  • High Courts

  • Tribunals established by the Central or State governments

  • The Supreme Court can review the decisions of these courts on questions of law or fact.

Advisory Jurisdiction

  • The Supreme Court has advisory jurisdiction to give advice to the President of India on questions of law or fact.

  • Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases in India

  • It also has jurisdiction to issue writs to enforce fundamental rights.

  • The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in India. 

  • Its decisions are binding on all lower courts.

Proposals for Structural changes in SC

  • The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial body in India.

  • Its structure and functioning have been the subject of ongoing debate and discussion

  • There are a number of proposals for structural changes to the Supreme Court, which aim to address various perceived challenges and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Court.

  • One of the most common proposals is to increase the number of judges on the Supreme Court

  • The current strength of the Court is 34, including the Chief Justice of India

  • The caseload of the Court has grown significantly over the years.

  • There is a backlog of pending cases. 

  • Increasing the number of judges would allow the Court to hear more cases and reduce the pendency.

  • Another proposal is to establish regional benches of the Supreme Court in different parts of the country. 

  • This would make the Court more accessible to people from different regions and reduce the need for them to travel to New Delhi, where the Supreme Court is currently located. 

  • Regional benches could also help to reduce the workload of the main bench in New Delhi.

  • Some experts have also proposed that the Supreme Court should specialize its benches

  • This means that different benches would be responsible for different types of cases, such as constitutional cases, civil cases, and criminal cases.

  • This would allow the judges to develop expertise in specific areas of law and improve the quality of their decisions.

  • Currently, judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for a lifetime term

  • This has led to concerns about the independence of the judiciary, as judges may be reluctant to make decisions that could upset the government or other powerful interests. 

  • Some experts have proposed that judges should be appointed for fixed terms, which would help to ensure their independence.

  • Another proposal is to establish a National Judicial Council (NJC) to oversee the appointment and conduct of judges

  • The NJC would be independent of the government and would be responsible for recommending judges to the President for appointment

Article 145(3)

  • Article 143(3) of the Constitution of India states that the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction in disputes arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, arrangement, or engagement entered into before the commencement of the Constitution.

  • Those agreements between the Government of India or any of the predecessor Governments and the Government of any other country

  • This means that the Supreme Court cannot hear cases involving disputes arising out of treaties or agreements entered into by India before the Constitution came into force in 1950

  • This is because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any treaties or agreements that are inconsistent with the Constitution are void.

  • There are some exceptions to this rule. 

  • The Supreme Court can hear cases involving disputes arising out of treaties or agreements that have been incorporated into Indian law by Parliament

  • Additionally, the Supreme Court can hear cases involving disputes arising out of treaties or agreements that are necessary to protect the fundamental rights of Indian citizens.

  • Article 143(3) of the Constitution of India was intended to protect the sovereignty of India and to prevent the Supreme Court from interfering with the executive branch's foreign policy decisions. 

  • The Supreme Court has interpreted this article narrowly, and it has held that it has jurisdiction to hear cases involving disputes arising out of treaties or agreements that violate the Constitution or that infringe on the fundamental rights of Indian citizens.

Challenges of structural changes in SC

  • Structural changes to the Supreme Court of the United States are a complex and controversial issue, with proponents and opponents citing a range of potential benefits and challenges. 

  • Political Difficulty: Altering the structure of the Supreme Court, an institution deeply embedded in the American political system, would require significant political will and consensus

  • The current system of life tenure for justices and the need for Senate confirmation for any changes make it inherently challenging to make structural modifications.

  • Unintended Consequences: Structural changes may have unintended consequences that could further complicate or politicize the Supreme Court

  • Expanding the court could lead to more frequent ideological clashes among justices, potentially undermining the court's legitimacy.

  • Impact on Judicial Independence: Some argue that structural changes could compromise the independence of the judiciary, as justices might become more susceptible to political pressures if their tenure or selection process is altered.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Supreme Court of India UPSC NOTE
Supreme Court of India UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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