At the apex is the Supreme Court, the highest court in India. It is the final court of appeal. At the state level, there is a High Court and at the district level, there are District Courts.
Supreme Court → High Courts → District Courts →Subordinate Courts
SUPREME COURT (Art 124-147)
The judicial system was well established in India at Independence and it had a Federal Court which was dissolved with the establishment of the Supreme Court. The first High Court in India was established at Bombay in 1865. The Supreme Court stands at the apex of the judicial system in India. It is also known as third pillar of democracy.
The appointment of the Supreme Court Judges and their removal are governed by Article 124. The appointment and removal of the High Court Judges are governed by Article 217. The Constitution declares Delhi as the seat of the Supreme Court but it authorizes the Chief Justice of India to select any other place/places as seat of the Supreme Court.
JURISDICTION AND POWERS
1. Original jurisdiction (Article 131)
It means that only Supreme Court can hear such cases and so has the original jurisdiction.
a) Disputes between centre and state/states
b) Disputes between two or more states
c) Disputes regarding enforcement of fundamental rights.
2. Appellate Jurisdiction (Article 132-134)
a) Constitutional matters
b) Civil matters
c) Criminal matters
d) Appeal by special leave (Article 136)
3. Advisory Jurisdiction (Article 143)
If in the opinion of the President a questions of law has arisen and is of such importance that the opinion of Supreme Court is required, he can refer the matter to the Supreme Court for its opinion. It is bound to give its opinion but the same is not binding on the President. (The matter relating to termination of water agreements act 2004 passed by the state of Punjab was referred by the President to the Supreme Court for its opinion).
4. Writ Jurisdiction (Article 32)
Every individual has right to move Supreme Court directly if his fundamental rights have been infringed. (High Courts are also empowered to issue writs).
5. Court of Record (Article 129)
The Supreme Court is court of record and the same are admissible of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court. It also enjoys the power to punish for its contempt.
6. Other powers
a) It has powers to review its own judgments.
b) dispute regarding election of president and vice president can be raised only before Supreme Court
c) it is a ultimate interpreter of the constitution
TERM AND SALARY
APPOINTMENTS OF JUDGES
The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This system of appointment is known as 'Collegium System' which consist of Chief Justice and four senior most judges of Supreme Court appointing judges to Supreme Court and different High Courts.
Recently Parliament passed a law, National Judicial Appointment Commission Act 2015 (99 th amendment of the constitution) which changed the system of appointment of judges.
The said law was challenge in a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court which held the NJAC Act is violative of the basic principles of the constitution.
REMOVAL OF JUDGES
A motion on the removal of a Supreme Court/ High Court Judge can be initiated in either House of Parliament. If it is to be introduced in the Lok Sabha, it should be signed in by not less than 100 MPs while in the Rajya Sabha, the motion should be signed by not less than 50 MPs members.
The judge (or his representative) has the right to represent his case. Thereafter, the motion is voted upon. If two-thirds of those present and voting, and a majority support of the total strength of the House votes in favour of removal, it is considered passed. The process is then repeated in the other House. Thereafter, the Houses send an address to the President asking for the Judge’s removal from office.
1. No judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court has ever been removed through this process. However, in 1993, Justice V Ramaswamy of the Supreme Court was the first judge against whom impeachment proceedings were initiated. The enquiry committee appointed to look into the charges against the judge had indicted the sitting Supreme Court judge but in Parliament, insufficient number of members present made voting impossible.
2. The only other judge to face impeachment proceedings is Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court, proceedings against whom were initiated in Rajya Sabha in 2011. Both of them resigned of their own and the process was never completed.
JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT
A. Original Jurisdiction
The Supreme Court settles all disputes between Centre-State, State-State, etc.
B. Writ Jurisdiction
Every individual has the right to move the Supreme Court directly by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of his
C. Appellate Jurisdiction. The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court regarding any judgment, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law regarding interpretation of the Constitution.
THE HIGH COURTS
The Constitution provides a High court for each state. However, more than one state may have a common High Court. At present, there are 24 High Courts in India (High courts of Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur were established in 2013). Some of the High Courts which have jurisdiction over more than one state are as under:
Courts with benches at other places
|J & K||Srinagar, Jammu||Srinagar, Jammu|
|Madhya Pardesh||Jabalpur||Indore, Gwaliar|
If the High Court is satisfied that a matter pending in the lower court involves a question of law, it may withdraw the case and itself take up the case.
Appointment of Judges to Supreme Court/High Courts
The earlier system was known as the ‘Collegium System’, which consisted of the Chief Justice of India and four senior most judges of the Supreme Court and the advice of the Collegium was binding on the government. This system was shrouded in secrecy and excluded the Executive from any participation in appointing judges. With the enactment of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, the Collegium System has been replaced by a 5-member advisory group to advise the government in these matters.
SALARIES OF SUPREME COURT JUDGES
It is decided by the Parliament under Article 125. The Chief Justice draws Rs 1 lac while the Judges Rs. 90,000 a month as salary. Their salaries are paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
SALARIES OF HIGH COURT JUDGES
The Chief Justice of a High Court draws a salary of Rs. 90,000 a month while a Judge of the High Court is entitled to Rs. 80000 a month. Their salaries are paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India.