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Revision Notes: The Supreme Court - Notes | Study Indian Polity for UPSC CSE - UPSC

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The Supreme Court

Originally the Supreme Court consisted of a Chief Justice and seven other judges. The number of judges was increased from 7 to 10 (in 1956) and 25 (in 1985).
To be appointed judge of the Supreme Court, a person—

(i) must be a citizen of India.
(ii) must have been judge of a high court or two such courts in succession for a period of five years; or an advocate of a high court for at least 10 years;

The salaries and other expenses in respect of the Supreme Court judges are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

Their salaries and other privileges cannot be curtailed during their tenure.

On retirement the Chief Justice and other judges are entitled to an annual pension of Rs 60,000 and Rs 54,000 respectively.

The Supreme Court normally sits at New Delhi. However, it can hold its meeting  at any other place in India. The decision in this regard is taken by the Chief justice of India in consultation with the president.

Schedules of the Constitution

  • The original Constitution contained eight Schedules.
  • The Ninth Schedule was added by the first Constitutional Amendment in 1951.
  • In 1974, the Tenth Schedule was added to the Constitution by the 35th Amendment. This Schedule laid down the terms and conditions of the ‘associate status’ of Sikkim.
  • However, it was removed from the Constitution by the 36th Amendment carried out in 1975 when Sikkin was given the status of a full-fledged state.
  • A new Tenth Schedule was added to the Constitution by the 52nd Amendment in 1985. It contains provisions regarding disqualifications on the grounds of defection.
  • Eleventh Schedule was added to the Constitution by the Seventy-third Amendment, carried out in December 1992. This Schedule contains 29 subjects, on which the Panchayats enjoy administrative control.
  • The Twelfth Schedule, was added to the Constitution by the Seventy-fourth Amendment, carried out in December 1992. It lists 18 subjects, on whi

Independence of Judge

The salaries and allowances of judges have been charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and are not subject to a vote in Parliament.

The salaries and other service conditions of judges cannot be changed to their disadvantage during their tenure.

The removal of the judges has been made quite difficult.

Judges are barred from carrying on any practice before any court in India after their retirement.

The decisions and actions of judges cannot be criticised.


(i) Original Jurisdiction

This means that certain types of cases can originate in the Supreme Court alone.

The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in—
(a) disputes between the centre and one or more states;
(b) disputes between the centre and any state or states on the one hand and one of more states on the other;
(c) disputes between two or more states;
(d) disputes regarding the enforcement of Fundamental Rights.


Facts to be Remembered

  • No criminal proceedings can be instituted against the President or Governor in any court during his term of office.
  • Administrative departments can frame detailed rules and regulations to supplement the laws of Parliament. The President or Governor is not accountable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office.
  • Which is a limitation on the rule of law in India?— Delegated Legislation, Administrative justice, Privileges and immunities enjoyed by Civil servants in the discharge of their duties.
  • Governments are classified as parliamentary or presidential on the basis of the relations between the executive and legislature.
  • No-Confidence can be expressed by Parliament in the Council of Ministers in the following ways: Rejecting a bill proposed by the Council of Ministers, refusing grants demanded by the Council of Ministers, passing a private member's bill to which the Council of Ministers is opposed.
  • Mizoram and Nagaland have only member each to represnt it in the Lok Sabha.
  • Regarding Consitutional Amendments it would be true to say amendment bills can be introduced in either House of Parliament. Amendments Bill need to be passed by a 2/3 majority in each House of Parliament.
  • What is administrative law?— Rules and regulations framed by the executive.
  • Which is an effective means of parliamentary control over the administration?— Question Hour in Parliament.
  • In which states do the Consitution specifically provide for the appointment of a tribal welfare Minister?— Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.


Is the Indian Parliament a Sovereign Body?

  • Though the Indian Parliament enjoys very extensive powers, it cannot be regarded as a sovereign body because—
  •  It has to operate within the jurisdiction earmarkedfor it by the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court can declare a law passed byParliament unconstitutional if it contravenes the provisions of the Constitution.
  •  The grant of certain fundamental rights to the citizens acts as a restraint to its authority.

(ii) Appellate Jurisdiction

Four types of case fall within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court-constitutional, civil, criminal, and such cases where it may grant special leave to appeal.

Generally, appeals can be taken to the Supreme Court if the case involves a substantial question of law regarding interpretation of Constitution or if it involves a substantial question of low of general importance.

(iii) Advisory Powers

The Supreme Court renders advice to the President on any matter of law or fact whenever he seek such advice. However, the advice is not binding on the President.

(iv) Court of Record : The Supreme Court is a court of record and its records are admitted to be of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court.
As a court of record it also enjoys the power to punish for its contempt.

(v) Special Leave 

Under this heading, the right of the Supreme Court to entertain appeal is unlimited. But the power is to be exercised in exceptional condition—

(a) In civil cases this power can be exercised only if substantive question of law or general public interest are involved.
(b) In criminal cases, only if it is convinced that exceptional and special circumstances exist to show that substantive questions of law or general public interest are involved.
(c) In the case of the decisions by tribunals, the Supreme Court can interfere only if the tribunal has either exceeded of its jurisdiction or has approached the question referred to in a manner which is likely to result in injustice.

Judicial Review

It can ensure that the laws passed by the legisla ture and the orders issued by the executive do not contravene any provision of the Constitution. If such contraventions occur, it can declare them unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also protects the Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens through various types of writs. It acts as the guardian of the Constitution.

Facts To Be Remembered

  • The Legislative Council of Andhra Pradesh was abolished on June 1, 1985. Earlier, the Parliament passed a bill seeking to abolish the Legislative Council on May 16, 1985. The Parliament delayed enactment of this law for quite sometime. For the first time, the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh recommended dissolution of the State Legislative Council through a resolution adopted on March 24, 1983, but the Parliament did not take any action on it.
  • The Andhra assembly passed a resolution again on April 30, 1985, after the constitution of the new assembly.
  • Ultimately, the Parliament decided to abolish the Legislative Council and passed the Legislative Council (abolition) Bill, 1985, in May 1985. Likewise, the Parliament also abolished the Legislative Council of Tamil Nadu on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu.
  • Subsequently the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu passed resolutions recommending creation of Legislative Councils in their states.
  • A number of states/union territories have common high courts. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura have a common high court located at Guwahati.
  • Maharashtra, Goa, the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have a common high court located at Bombay.
  • West Bengal and the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a common high court at Calcutta.
  • Kerala and the union territory of Lakshadweep have a common high court at Ernakulam.
  • Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Pondicherry have a common high court at Madras.
  • Likewise, Punjab, Haryana and the union territory of Chandigarh have a common high court located at Chandigarh.
  • Under the original Constitution the Comptroller and Auditor General was vested with accounting as well as audit functions.
  • However, in 1976 audit and accounts were separated. The accounting functions were handed over to the administrative ministries.
  • By the 42nd Amendment the power of the Comptroller and Auditor General with regard to prescription of forms for maintenance of accounts was curtailed, which was again restored by the 44th Amendment.
  • At present the Comptroller and Auditor General performs only audit functions.
  • The Constitution initially provided for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution.
  • However, it was extended by 10 years in 1959 through the eighth amendment.
  • In 1969, the 23rd Amendment further extended reservation up to 1980.
  • This was further extended up to 1990 by the 45th Amendment carried out in 1980.
  • In 1989 by the 62nd Amendment the reservation was extended up to 2000 A.D.


Facts to be Remembered

  • Vote on account is made by the Lok Sabha to meet expenditure for a period before the passing of the annual budget is mentioned by the Constitution. ­
  • According to the Constitution, no amendment can be proposed in the House of Parliament with regard to Appropriation Bill. ­
  • The validity of a constitutional Amendment in India can be determined by the higher judiciary. ­
  • A person who is a member of the civil service of a State holds office during the pleasure of the Governor. ­
  • Which  is a means available to government to meet an unexpected demand or for a service of indefinite character whose details cannot be stated?— Vote on credit. ­
  • How many elected representatives can the States send in all to the Lok Sabha — 530. ­
  • How many members can the President nominate to the Rajya Sabha? — 12. ­
  • A session of the Lok Sabha is prorogued by an order of the President. ­
  • Mobile courts have been set up to deal with cases of atrocities against Harijans under Protection of Civil Rights Act. ­
  • Which practices would constitute corrupt practices in an electoral campaign?— appealing for votes on the basis of caste, slandering other candidates, giving gifts to voters to get them to vote. ­
  • Jammu and Kashmir has its own Constitution framed by a special Constituent Assembly set up by the State. ­
  • Only some subjects on the Concurrent List can be legislated by the Union. ­
  • The residuary power (in J & K) belongs not to the Parliament but to the State Legislature (except in certain matters for which Parliament has exclusive power, e.g., prevention of activities relating to cession and seccssion).
The document Revision Notes: The Supreme Court - Notes | Study Indian Polity for UPSC CSE - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Polity for UPSC CSE.
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Revision Notes: The Supreme Court - Notes | Study Indian Polity for UPSC CSE - UPSC


Revision Notes: The Supreme Court - Notes | Study Indian Polity for UPSC CSE - UPSC