Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court includes the following:

Original Jurisdiction

Some cases directly originate in the Supreme Court and cannot be moved to any other courts than the Supreme Court. This jurisdiction is known as the original jurisdiction. Some cases which can directly originate in the Supreme Court are

  • When any dispute emerges between the Government of India on one hand and one or more states on the other hand.
  • When disputes arise between the Government of India and one or more states on one side and one or more states on the other side.
  • When disputes arise between two or more states.

Any individual can directly approach the Supreme Court if any of his/her fundamental rights are denied or are taken away by the government.

If the Supreme Court feels that a case being tried in the High Court involves a significant question of law and order, it may transfer the case to itself.

All cases where the interpretation of the Constitution is required can be directly filed in the Supreme Court.

Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to review decisions and change outcomes of decisions of lower courts. The appellate jurisdiction extends to constitutional, civil, and criminal cases.

Constitutional Cases: All matters under the High Court which involve the interpretation of the Constitution can be brought before the Supreme Court.

Civil Cases: Appeals can be made to the Supreme Court if the High Court certifies that

  • The case involves an important question of law of general importance.
  • The case needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.
  • If the High Court refuses to give a certificate, the Supreme Court can grant special leave to appeal incertain cases.

Criminal Cases: Two types of appeals in criminal cases can be referred to the Supreme Court if cases with or without the certificate lie before the High Court. The certificate of the High Court is not required in a case where

  • The High Court has reversed the judgment given by the lower court of acquittal and punished the accused with a death sentence.
  • The High Court withdraws a case from the lower court and gives a death sentence to the accused.

Advisory Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has an advisory jurisdiction on any question of law which is referred to it by the President. It gives its advice under the following circumstances:

  • If the President feels that any law is of extreme public importance, he can ask for the advice of the Supreme Court. However, such advice is not binding on the President or the government.
  • Disputes which arise out of pre-Constitutional treaties and agreements which are excluded in the original jurisdiction can be referred to the Supreme Court for advisory jurisdiction.

Revisory Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has the power to review any judgment with a view to undo any erroneous decision given by it. This is important because the Supreme Court is also a court of record and its decisions may be referred by other courts while giving judgments.

Judicial Review

As the Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority, it can review any law passed by the government and can declare it null and void if it violates any provision made in the Constitution. This is known as the power of judicial review. The Supreme Court has the power to review all national and state laws and executive orders and declare them null and void if they do not confirm the spirit of the Constitution.

Judicial review is an important power of the Supreme Court because of the following reasons:

  • In a federal setup like that of India, if any disputes arise between state and central governments, the Supreme Court can settle disputes between them.
  • In the Constitution, a law may be ambiguously written. The question of interpretation of law may arise and the Supreme Court has the power to settle disputes.
  • At times, the Supreme Court may not have the required wisdom and experience to explain laws. This work can be done easily by the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the head of the Indian judiciary and supervises the functions of the lower courts. A single civil and criminal system of laws operates all over the country. By the way of appeal, cases from the High Court may be taken to the Supreme Court. Read more

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