Jurisdiction & Powers of Supreme Court 

Original Jurisdiction

“Original jurisdiction of SC is power to hear a case for the 1st time unlike Appellate jurisdiction”

  • Purely federal in character i.e. have exclusive authority to decide any dispute involving a question of law between:
  • GOI (Union) v/s state or states
  • GOI & any state / states on one side & state / states on the other
  • Two or more states
  • However, according to 7th amendment, 1956, original jurisdiction of SC does not extends to disputes, arising out of provisions of a treaty, agreement etc. which was executed before 26th Jan 1950 & is in operation ever since
  • As per article 71, all disputes regarding election of President & vice President are handled by SC


Exclusion to original jurisdiction of states

  • In disputes b/w center & state due to disputes arising out of provisions of a treaty, agreement etc. which was executed before 26th Jan 1950 & is in operation ever since
  • Parliament may by law exclude SC’s jurisdiction in disputes w.r.t use, distribution & control of water in any interstate river


Writ Jurisdiction

  • A type of original jurisdiction of Supreme court
  • Jurisdiction of SC to enforce FRs Every individual has a right to move to SC directly by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of his FR, without coming via HC, by means of writs

Appellate Jurisdiction

Constitutional Matters

  • Appeal lies to SC if HC certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law as to interpret the constitution
  • If HC refuses to give certificate, SC may grant a special leave for appeal if it is satisfied that case does involve such question

Civil Matters 

  • An appeal lies to SC from any any judgement in civil proceeding of HC if it certifies :
  • that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance
  • that in opinion of HC, the said question needs to be decided by SC
  • Thus, No appeal in case of civil matters lies to SC as a matter of right as it lies only when HC issues a certificate on above 2 conditions

Criminal Matters

  • Constitution provides the following provisions as to appeal in criminal matters:
  • If HC has sentenced someone to death
  • If HC has withdrawn for trial before itself a case from the lower court & in such trial, lower court has sentenced the accused to death
  • If HC certifies that the case is fit for appeal to SC, even if HC on appeal has reversed an order of acquittal of accused & sentenced him to death or life imprisonment or for period not less than 10 years


Note → Appellate Jurisdiction is not Applicable in cases of Court Martial

Advisory Jurisdiction (Only consultative Role)

  • President can refer to court either on a question of law or on a question of fact provided it is of public importance. However, it is not compulsory for court to give its advice.
  • Further, President is empowered to refer to SC for its opinion regarding disputes, arising out of provisions of a treaty, agreement etc. which was executed before 26th Jan 1950 & is in operation ever since. In such case, it is obligatory for the court to give its opinion to President

“In both of above cases, opinion expresses by SC is only advisory in nature & not binding on President”


Revisory Jurisdiction

  • Empowered to review any judgment or order made by it with a view to remove any mistake or error that might have crept in judgment
  • Even though, judgment have been passed by SC has a binding effect on all the courts of India, but not on SC itself.


Supreme Court as Court of Record

  • Records & judicial proceedings are of evidentiary value before any court
  • Has power to determine its own jurisdiction


Contempt of court

  • “Supreme Court has power to punish its own contempt”
  • Civil Willful disobedience to any judge or other processes of the court
  • Criminal Publication of any matter or doing any act whatsoever which scandalizes or tend to scandalize authority of the court or tend to interfere course of any judicial proceedings


Curative Petition

  • A review petition may be filed in SC after delivery of its judgment; Court may review the case under its inherent power but on very restricted grounds
  • The petition 1st has to circulated to a bench of 3 senior most judges & judges who passed the judgment complained of


Others Powers of SC

  • Make rules regarding procedure & practice of court
  • Can recommend removal of members of UPSC to the President
  • Power to review the laws passed by the legislature & orders issued by executives & to declare them ultra vires if they contravene any of the provisions of the constitution
  • It must be noted that SC can not pronounce upon the constitutionality of any law or executive’s action on its own. It can only pronounce judgment, when said law or executive action is actually challenged by someone
  • The ultimate authority to interpret the constitution also rest with SC , which has been described as mouth piece of Indian constitution
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