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Powers and Functions of Supreme Court

Last Updated : 15 Jan, 2024
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The highest judicial court of India is the Supreme Court of India and is also the final court of appeal in the country. It is the most senior constitutional court and also has the final decision to make when it comes to all legal matters except in the case of personal laws and interstate river disputes, and the power of judicial review also lies with them.

Supreme Court of India

The Chief Justice of India is the Head and also Chief Judge of the Supreme Court, which includes a maximum of around 34 judges, and has enormous powers in terms and form of original, advisory, and appellate jurisdictions. On, November 9, 2022, Justice D.Y.Chandrachud took oath as the 50th Chief Justice of India.


1 October 1937 ( as Federal Court of India)

28 January 1950 (as Supreme Court of India)

Location Tilak Marg, New Delhi
Motto Yato Dharmastato Jayah
Composition Method Collegium of Supreme Court of India
Authorized by Constitution of India
Judge termed Length Mandatory retirement at 65 years of age
Chief Justice of India D.Y.Chandrachud

Supreme Court of India

According to the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial court in India and the ultimate court of appeal. It is also the highest constitutional court with judicial review authority. The first Supreme Court was established in Calcutta as a superior court, and the first Chief Justice, Sir Elijah Impey, was appointed. The court was formed to settle disputes in Bengal, Orissa, and Patna. As a result, King George III founded the other two Supreme Courts in Bombay and Madras in 1800 and 1834, respectively.

The Supreme Court is our country’s highest appeals court. The people of India are announcing justice with its establishment.  It requires safeguarding the fundamental rights of the Citizens and also settles disputes between various government authorities as well between different levels of the government in the country. The Supreme Court’s authority is to provide a proper hearing in cases involving the Indian Constitution. This court can also override the legislature in the favour of basic structures of the Indian Constitution.

Law which is declared by the Supreme Court is binding for all the courts present at all levels within India and also for Union and State Governments. As per, Article 142 of the Indian Constitution, it is the duty of the President of India to enforce decrees of the Supreme Court, and the court is conferred with inherent jurisdiction.

History of Supreme Court

The Federal Court of India was established as per the Government of India Act in 1935. This Court is important as it settles the disputes between the provinces and the federal states and also hears appeals against the judgments of the high courts.

After Independence, the Federal Court and also the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was replaced by what came to be known as the Supreme Court of India, which came to be on January 1950. The Constitution of 1950 envisaged Supreme Court with one Chief Justice and around 7 other Judges. The count of Judges in the Supreme Court was increased by the Parliament and is around 34 judges now including the Chief Justice of India.

Significance of Supreme Court of India

The Indian Constitution deals with the Supreme Court’s power, function, nomination, retirement, jurisdiction, and so on, from Article 124 to Article 147. The following are the reasons why the Supreme Court was established:

  1. The Supreme Court possesses Judicial Review power under Article 13 of the Constitution, which means it has the authority to reject any law or executive action that is determined to be incompatible with the Indian Constitution.
  2. The Supreme Court is India’s highest court ruling, commonly referred to as the country’s top court or even the final chance, where people can seek justice if they are dissatisfied with a High Court decision.
  3. If certain fundamental rights are violated, Indian individuals can claim compensation immediately through writs under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Functions of the Supreme Court

  1. It functions as a medium for settling disputes between various governmental entities, the federal government, and state governments.
  2. In accordance with Article 141 of the Constitution, all courts in the Indian Territory must obey legislation made by the Supreme court.
  3. In response to an appeal from one of the High courts or another subordinate court, the Supreme court gives the final decision.
  4. The Supreme Court can make decisions and act independently in specific cases.
  5. It is the highest court of appeals in civil and criminal cases.

Composition of Supreme Court

Along with the Chief Justice of India, there are around 34 judges in the Supreme Court. The judges sit in benches of 2 or 3, which is known as the Division Bench, or in benches of 5 or more, known as the Constitutional Bench when there are some matters which include the fundamental questions of the law which are to be decided.

Supreme Court Jurisdiction

The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court are of three types mostly and each of them is discussed in detail below:

  • Original Jurisdiction
  • Advisory Jurisdiction
  • Appellate Jurisdiction

Powers of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has the following judicial powers:

  1. Original Jurisdiction
  2. Appellate Jurisdiction
  3. Advisory Jurisdiction
  4. Review Jurisdiction

Original Jurisdiction

  • In cases when there are disagreements between the Central government and the state government or between two or more state governments, the Supreme Court serves as the original jurisdiction authority under Article 131 of the Constitution.
  • According to Article 139A of the Constitution, the Supreme Court may, at its judgment or on the advice of the Attorney General of India, accept matters from the high courts while they are still pending if they involve the same legal problem that has to be decided by the Supreme Court. 
  • Additionally, it has the power to transfer cases that are still ongoing, appeals, or other legal actions from one High Court to another High Court.
  • The Supreme Court has the authority to issue writs, orders, or directions under Article 139 of the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court is also able to uphold fundamental rights, according to section 32 of the Constitution.

Appellate Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has administrative authority in cases involving civil, criminal, or constitutional law, according to articles 132, 133, and 134 of the Constitution. Additionally, under article 136, the Supreme Court has the authority to grant exceptional leave requested by any Indian judicial court, but not by Army courts.

Advisory Jurisdiction

According to article 143 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court may provide the President of India with legal advice where the basis of the issue is related to the public interest. Additionally, the President has the right to consult others on problems relating to Article 131 of the Constitution.

Review Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has the authority to examine any laws that are being approved by the legislature under article 137 of the Constitution.

Court of Record

The Supreme Court is a Court of Record whose judgments are recorded as evidence and testimony.

Various Provisions Regarding Supreme Court of India

The Constitution of India provides the provision of the Supreme Court under Part V (The Union) and Chapter 6 ( The Union Judiciary). Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deals with the organization, independence, jurisdiction, powers as well as procedures of the Supreme Court. Indian Constitution in Article 124(1) states there will be a Supreme Court of India constituting Chief Justice of India and until Parliament by the law prescribes a large number of around 7 judges.

Judicial Independence

The independence of the Supreme Court judges is sought by the Constitution. According to Article 50 of the Directive Principles of the State policy, State will be taking steps to separate the judiciary from the executive. Some of the basic structures of the Constitution include the independence of the Judiciary, supremacy of the Constitution, and the rule of law.

Supreme court and also the high courts are empowered to frame what is called “suo moto” cases without receiving formal petitions on any suspected injustice including in contempt of court. It is considered to be one of the most known independent courts in South-East Asia. The main purpose of the Supreme Court is to decide constitutional issues. Some important aspects are discussed below:


Judges of the Supreme Court retire at the age of 65. But there have been some suggestions from the judges of the Supreme Court of India for providing fixed terms for judges including the Chief Justice of India.


According to Article 125, Indian Constitution leaves it to the Indian Parliament to determine the salary, allowances, leaves, etc. of the Supreme Court Judges. A Judge of the Supreme Court draws around Rs 2.5 lakhs per month, which is almost equivalent to the most senior civil servant of the Indian Government, while a Chief Justice earns around 2.8 lakhs per month.


As per Article 124 and the third Schedule of the Constitution, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India is to make and also subscribe in the presence of the President’s Oath or Affirmation.


Article 124(4) of the constitution subscribe that the President can remove a judge on proof to the points of misbehavior or incapacity when the Parliament approves with the majority of the total membership of each house in favor of the impeachment and not less than 2/3rd of members of each house present.


A person after retiring as a judge of the Supreme Court is debarred from the practice of any court of law or before any other authority of India. However, many times the Supreme Court and High Court judges are appointed to various positions in tribunals and commissions. after their retirement.


The Supreme Court of India is one of the most important bodies of Judicial authority in India. Of the three tiers of the judiciary, the Supreme Court of India is the highest level and also holds the highest decision-making power of all the other courts of India. Fair trials in all matters related to the Constitution of India are ensured through the Supreme Court and hence it is accorded the position of the top court of India protecting one of the largest democracies in the world.

FAQs on Supreme Court of India

Who appoints the judges of the Supreme Court?

The President.

How many judges are there in the Supreme Court?

Comprises the Chief Justice and 30 other judges appointed by President.

Who is the Chief Justice of India in 2022?

Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud is appointed as the new chief Justice of India.

What is Supreme Court?

Supreme Court refers to the apex body of the Indian Judiciary, the highest authority to interpret and uphold the Constitution of India, to protect the rights and liberties of the citizens, and also to abide by the rules.

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