India has a well – structured judicial machinery with the Supreme Court at the apex. India has a unified system of courts unlike the U.S.A. The Supreme Court, the High Courts, and the Lower Courts comprise a single, unified judiciary having jurisdiction as mentioned in the Indian constitution. The jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court are well–regulated in the Constitution. It has a much vaster jurisdiction than the highest court in any other federations. The Supreme Court acts as a court of appeal, the protector of the Constitution and also has advisory jurisdiction. Moreover, it can hear appeals from any court or tribunal in the country and can issue writs for protection of the Fundamental Rights. This article critically analyses the numerous jurisdictions of the Supreme Court of India which protects the spirit of the constitution among other things the concept of federalism and the fundamental rights.
JURISDICTION OF SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Generally speaking, jurisdiction implies the general authority of a court to determine a legal matter. It is indispensible because if a court is lacking jurisdiction then any judgment passed by the court regarding that matter would be invalid/void. In order to make a binding decision, the court must be very aware of its jurisdiction and act within its jurisdiction as mentioned in the Constitution. The judiciary in India has been allocated a remarkable role to play. It has to provide justice not only between one person and another but also between the state and the citizens. It interprets the Constitution and works as its guardian by keeping all authorities– legislative, administrative, executive, judicial and quasi-judicial within regulations. The judiciary is authorized to look over any governmental action in order to assess whether or not it adhere to the Constitution and the valid laws made therein. The judiciary has the power to protect people’s Fundamental Rights from any unjustified intrusion by any organ of the government. The Supreme Court, specifically, acts as the protector and guardian of the Fundamental Rights of the people. In order to reimburse for a wide range of responsibility, the Supreme Court is furnished with several jurisdictions. Thus it is a multi-jurisdictional court and may be considered as the most powerful Apex Court in the World.
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is very vast and may be put under the following heads:
1. Power to contempt (Article 129)
2. Original Jurisdiction (Article 131)
3. Appellate Jurisdiction (Article 132 to 134)
4. Appellate Jurisdiction from any court or tribunal in the country in matters not falling under the heading (Article 136)
5. Power to review its own decisions (Article 137)
6. Power to make any order necessary for doing absolute justice in any case (Article 142)
7. Advisory Jurisdiction (Article 143)
8. Power to enforce fundamental rights (Article 32)
However, its jurisdiction can be broadly classified into three categories as follows,
1. Original jurisdiction
2. Appellate jurisdiction
3. Advisory jurisdiction
Supreme Court’s original and exclusive jurisdiction extends to any dispute 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 to the extent as the dispute involves any question on which extent or existence of a legal right rely on. Further, Article 32 of the Constitution provides an substantial original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court related to protection of Fundamental Rights. It is authorized to issue directions, writs or orders, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari and quo warranto to enforce them. The Apex Court has been given power to direct transfer of any criminal or civil case from one State High Court to another State High Court or from a Court subordinate to another State High Court. The Supreme Court, if contended that cases involving the same or significantly the same questions of law are pending before it and one or more High Courts or before two or more High Courts and that such questions are significant questions of general significance, may withdraw a case or cases pending before the High Court or High Courts and dispose of all such cases itself. Under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, International Commercial Arbitration may be initiated in the Supreme Court.
In the case of Karnataka v. Union of India, the supreme court questioned on the nature and extent of the Article 131 of the Indian Constitution. This verdict was followed by the case of Rajasthan Dissolution Case. The Central Government had issued a notice under section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, to look into the conduct of certain Ministers of the State Government of Karnataka.
Supreme Court is the Highest Court of appeal and the decrees and writs of Supreme Court run all over the country. The cases come to the Supreme Court in the form of appeals against the decisions of the subordinate courts and this is called appellate jurisdiction. Appellate jurisdiction consists of the Constitution, Civil and criminal matters.
An appeal can be made in the Supreme Court against any judgment, final order or decree of the High Court in the territory of India, whether in a civil criminal or other proceedings, if the High Court certified that the case involves a substantial question of law related to the interpretation of the Constitution. Even of the High Court denies to give such certificate, the Supreme Court can grant special leave to appeal if it is satisfied that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
In every matter related to the interpretation of the constitution whether, criminal, civil or any other proceeding, the Supreme Court has been made the final authority to elaborate the intent and meaning of our Constitution.
A prominent feature of the Supreme Court is its consultative role. Indeed, it is a legacy of the past. A similar role was conferred to the Federal Court according to Section 213 of the Act of 1935. According to Article 143,(i) the President of India is authorized to refer to the Supreme Court any question of law or fact of public significance. It is not mandatory for the Court to give its opinion. Moreover, the Supreme Court may deny to give its opinion under Article 143 in cases it does not consider right or not amenable to such exercise. It was, however, obseved by the Supreme Court in M. Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India that in that case, reasons must be stated.
It can be precisely concluded that the Supreme Court is the apex judicial authority of India. The Supreme Court has very vast jurisdiction and it has extensive powers and functions which it performs for the general interest of the public. It is the protector of the fundamental rights of the people and through its great insight interprets the provisions of the constitution. It guarantees the socio-economic justice to the individuals and makes laws which are of indubitable nature and binding upon all the other courts.