The Supreme Court: Jurisdiction

The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is: original, appellate and advisory: 104?Indian Polity and Governance

(i) Original jurisdiction : The Supreme Court has an original jurisdiction under article 131, which means, it hears any dispute

(i) between the Government of India and one or more States or

(ii) between the Government of India and any state or states on one side and one or more states on the other or

(iii) between two or more states; if and in so far as the dispute involves question (whether of law or of fact) on which depends the existence of the extent of a legal right. In addition to it, Article 32 of the Constitution grants an original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court with regard to the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights. The Supreme Court is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs such as of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari.

(ii) Appellate jurisdiction:

The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is stated under Articles 132(1), 133(1) or 134 of the Constitution in respect of a judgment, decree or final order, passed by it in civil or criminal cases, involving substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court can also grant special leave to appeal against judgment or order of any court. The Parliament is empowered to expand the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (Article 134(2)).

The Parliament has, in fact, exercised this power in case of criminal appeals by enacting the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 1970. In Criminal cases, an appeal can be filed to the Supreme Court.

(a) on appeal reversing an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentencing him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years, or

(b) withdrawing for trial before itself any case from any court subordinate to it and has, in such trial, convicted the accused and sentenced him to death or imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years, or

(c) certifying that the case is fit for appeal. The Parliament is authorised to confer on the Supreme Court any additional powers to entertain and hear appeals from judgment, final order or sentence in criminal proceedings of a High Court.

(iii) Advisory Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court has special advisory jurisdiction under Article 143 of the Constitution. though, the President is not bound to accept the advice sought by him. Some of the cases where the advice of the Supreme Court was sought include: Delhi Laws Act (1954), Kerala Education Bill (1958), Berubari Union (I960), Customs Act (1963), Special Courts Bill (1978), Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act (1982), Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (1992), Ram Janma Bhumi Case (1994).

(iv) The Supreme Court has the power to grant special leave to appeal against any judgment by any court (Article 136).

(v) The Supreme Court is empowered to review its own judgment (Article 137).

(vi) Under Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has been empowered to punish anyone for contempt of any law court in India.

(vii) Judicial review is a power through which the judiciary examines the constitutionality of a legislative act and/or executive order. If on examination it is found that there has been a violation of the Constitution, the judiciary declares it to be unconstitutional and therefore invalid. The word Judicial review has not been used in the Constitution, but numerous provisions (such as Articles 13, 32, 131, 132, 133, 134, 226, 246 etc.) explicitly confer the power of the judicial review on the Supreme Court. The power of judicial review has been exercised by the Supreme Court in various cases, such as the Golaknath case (1967), the Bank Nationalisation case (1970), the Privy Purses Abolition case (1971), and the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), and the Minerva Mills case (1980).

The judicial review power is exercised, on the following three grounds:

(a) that the law infringes the Fundamental Rights (Part III),

(b) that it is outside the competence of the authority which has framed it, and

(c) that it is repugnant to the constitutional provisions.

(viii) Judicial activism is judiciary in action, i.e., judiciary acting. It is when the Supreme Court/High Court/any court is asked to act on some one else stance, say the public interest litigation (PIL); then the court initiates action. The Supreme Court has taken such initiatives in numerous cases, such as coming to the rescue of workers (People�s Union for Democratic Rights v Union of India, 1982), bonded labour (Bandhua Mukti Morcha v Union of India, 1984), prisoners (Sunil Batra v Delhi Administration, 1978), pavement dwellers (Olga Tellis v Bombay Municipal Corporation, 1985), under trial prisoners, (Hussainara Khatoon v State of Bihar, 1979), inmates of protection homes (Upendra Baxi v State of Uttar Pradesh, 1983), and victims of Bhopal Gas Disaster (Union Carbide Corporation v Union of India, 1991). In Ratlam Municipality Indian Polity and Governance?105 v Virdichand (1980), the Supreme Court sought to activate administrative machinery when it failed to perform its legal obligations. In Common Cause v Union of India, (1996), the Supreme Court cancelled the allotment of petrol pumps made on grounds of nepotism and malafide and passed severe strictures against the then Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas. All these cases indicate that judicial activism has its own importance.

Written by princy

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