The Indian judiciary is one of the most robust arms of government across the globe. The powers conferred on the judiciary arm of government are in no way less than those conferred on both the executive and the legislature.
The Indian judiciary consists of several levels of courts, which the Supreme Court of India ranks the highest. The framers of the Indian constitution placed the Supreme Court as the last Court of appeal with the powers to review the nation’s constitution, gives an opinion on issues bothering on the fundament rights of the citizens, as well as, resolves any disputes between the other arms of government.
The Supreme Court bench is led by the Chief Justice of India and consists of about 30 judges.
The Supreme Court being the highest Court in the land can take up appeal cases against High Courts, tribunals, and other courts across the country.
The Supreme Court Protects and preserves the fundamental rights of Indian citizens. In addition, the court settles disputes between other arms of government and hears matter referred to it by the President as an advisory court.
It may on its own takes up cases based on “Suo Moto” with anybody moving it. Any judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court is binding on both the Union and State governments, as well as other lower courts.
Based on Article 142, the President of India reserves the exclusive power to implement any judicial pronouncement made by the Supreme Court.
Considering the political and judicial systems in the country, the Supreme Court has a vital role to play.
The fundamental roles of the Supreme Court as enshrined in the nation’s constitution is to ensure that laws are obeyed and executed properly by the executive arm of government.
The court also ensures that no individual is denied justice in any part of the country.
In view of the above, this article will explore the various roles and functions of the Indian Supreme Court as envisaged in the constitution.
ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA-
THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ACTS AS A FEDERAL COURT
The Indian constitution recognizes the Supreme Court as a Federal court. India is a federation consisting of federating units; powers are shared among the federating units and the Union government as enshrined in the constitution.
The Supreme Court ensures that the Union government does not override the states and that both tiers of government obey the division of power.
Therefore, the constitution under Article 131 empowers the Supreme Court to settle disputes between the different States or between the Union government and state governments.
THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA INTERPRETS THE LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION
The constitution empowers the Supreme Court to interpret the law and the constitution itself. Any judicial pronouncement made by the Supreme Court must be binding on all parties. The court also preserves the constitution.
Any lawsuit that raises a question on constitutionalism, either arising from lower courts or the Supreme Court itself shall be interpreted by the Supreme Court. It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to determine the legality on the case.
The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases arising from it as guaranteed under Article 131 of the Constitution. Some of the cases the Supreme Court can entertain are:
- Disputes between any state and the Central government
- Disputes between the Central government and two or more States
- Disputes between two or more States
AS AN APPEAL COURT-
As earlier mentioned, the Supreme Court of India is the highest Court in the land. It serves as an appeal Court hearing cases involving the constitution, criminal and civil cases. Anybody that is not satisfied with the decision of a lower court can seek an appeal at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court can give an opinion on issues bothering on public importance or law when referred to it by the President.
AS A COURT OF RECORD-
The Supreme Court has been designated as the court of record as captured under Article 129 of the constitution. The court also possesses all the powers granted to lower courts, including the power to punish any party for a contempt of court.
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA- THE GUARDIAN OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Supreme Court is the guardian and protector of the Constitution. However, there are 2 major points which the Supreme Court achieves this.
- Firstly, as the apex Federal Court which has the jurisdiction to hear any dispute between the Central and state governments.
- Secondly, the Supreme Court preserves the fundamental rights of the citizens.
In a bid to discharge these huge responsibilities, it is not uncommon for the Supreme Court to examine or review different laws made by both Central and state governments with a view to determining the legality of the laws.
The power to review both Central and state laws are regarded as a judicial review power. This power to a large extent is limited. The Judicial review empowers the Supreme Court to pronounce as illegal laws passed by both State and Central legislators.
For instance, if the Supreme Court feels that laws passed by the legislative arm of government threaten the rights of the citizens, it may invalidate such laws. In addition, the Supreme Court may wade into a situation where the Government oversteps its legal bounds.
The constitution under Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court to issue a writ in order to enforce the fundamental rights of the citizens. These writs can be issued in the form of Mandamus, Certiorari, Quo-warranto, Prohibition, and Habeas Corpus.
The Indian Supreme Court is one of the most powerful apex courts in the world. The constitution recognizes the Supreme Court as the last “Court of appeal” with the powers to review the nation’s constitution, gives an opinion on issues bothering on the fundamental rights of the citizens, as well as, resolves any disputes between the other arms of government. The Supreme Court bench is led by the Chief Justice of India, who is appointed by the President. The Supreme Court bench consists of at most 30 judges.