The Supreme Court of India
(Article 124 to 127 in Part V of Indian Constitution)
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
· Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the organisation, independence, jurisdiction, powers, and procedures and so on of the Supreme Court.
· The Supreme Court of India was inaugurated on January 28, 1950 by succeeding the Federal Court of India which was established under Government of India Act, 1935.
· India being a Federal Country has a unified Judiciary and one system for Fundamental Law and Justice.
· The Indian Judicial System is established as integrated Judicial System in which the Supreme Court act as the highest authority followed by the High Courts. Under the High Court, there is hierarchy of Subordinate Courts i.e. District Courts and lower Courts.
Organisation of Supreme Court
· Presently, Supreme Court has 31 Judges (1 Chief Justice and 30 other Judges).
· The number of Judges has increases from 26 to 31 (including Chief Justice of India) by the enactment of the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2008.
· Originally, the strength of Judges in Supreme Court was 8 which was increased by the Parliament progressively.
Judges of the Supreme Court of India
Appointment of Judges
· Appointed by the President.
· Chief Justice is appointed by the President on consultation with Judges of Supreme Court and High Court if he believes necessary.
· Other Judges are appointed by President on Consultation with Chief Justice and with such judges of Supreme Court and High Court who he believes necessary. In this case, consultation with the chief justice is obligatory.
Dispute over Consultation
· The Supreme Court have given different interpretation of the word consultation in different case for the above provision for appointment of judges.
First Judges Case (1982)
· The Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies exchange of views.
Second Judges case (1993)
· It ruled that the advice offered by the Chief Justice of India is obligatory on the President in the matters of appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court. But, the Chief Justice would give his advice on the matter only after consulting two of his senior most colleagues.
Third Judges case (1998)
· The Court suggested that the Consultation process by Chief Justice of India requires ‘Consultation of plurality judges’. He should consult a collegium of four senior most judges of Supreme Court of India and even if two of them gave adverse opinion, recommendations should not be sent to the Government.
· The 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 and the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014 have replaced the collegium system of appointing Judges to Supreme Court and High Court with a new body called the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC).
Fourth Judges case (2015)
· The Supreme Court has declared both the 99th Constitutional Amendment as well as the NJAC Act as unconstitutional and void. The Judgement was based on the opinion that the New System would affect the independence of the Judiciary.
Appointment of Chief Justice
· The Supreme Court in the Second Judges Case (1993), ruled that the senior most judge of the Supreme Court should alone be appointed to the office of the chief justice of India.
Qualifications of Judges
· To be a Judge of the Supreme Court, a person should have following qualifications –
· He should be a citizen of India.
· He should –
a) Have been a judge of a High Court for 5 years; or
b) Have been an advocate of a High Court for 10 years; or
c) Be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the president.
d) There is no minimum age prescribed by the Constitution of India.
Oath or Affirmation
· A person appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court of India should make and subscribe an oath before the President or a person appointed by him, before entering his office.
· In his oath, he swears –
1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India
2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India
3. to duly and faithfully and to the best of his ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of the Office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will
4. to uphold the Constitution and the laws
Tenure of Judges
· The Constitution has not fixed the tenure of the Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
· However, Constitution makes following provisions –
1. He holds office until he attains the age of 65 years.
2. He can resign his office by writing to the president.
3. He can be removed from his office by the President on the recommendation of the Parliament.
Removal of Judges of the Supreme Court of India
· Can be removed from his office by the Order of President.
· The President can issue the Order only after an address by Parliament has been presented to him for the removal. An impeachment motion for the removal of a judge does not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
· The address must be supported by a special majority of each House of Parliament.
· The Judges can be removed on two Grounds – proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
Impeachment Process for Removal of Judges
· The Judges Enquiry Act (1968) regulates the procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
· The Process is –
1. A removal motion signed by 100 members of Lok Sabha or 50 members of Rajya Sabha is to be given to the Speaker/Chairman.
2. The Speaker/Chairman may admit the motion or refuse to admit it.
3. If it is admitted, then the Speaker/Chairman set up a 3 member committee to investigate into the charges.
4. The committee should consist of –
• the chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court,
• a chief justice of a high court, and
• a distinguished jurist.
5. If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of misbehaviour or suffering from an incapacity, the House can consider the motion.
6. After the motion is passed by each House of Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the president for removal of the judge.
7. Finally, the president passes an order removing the judge.
· No judge of the Supreme Court has been impeached so far.
· The first and the only case of impeachment is that of Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court (1991–1993). The impeachment motion was defeated in Lok Sabha.
Salaries and Allowances
· Determined by the Parliament.
· Salaries of Judges are Rs. 90000 per month and that of Chief Justice is Rs 1 lakh per month.
· They are also paid sumptuary allowance and provided with free accommodation and other facilities like medical, car, telephone, etc.
· Cannot be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment except during a financial emergency.
· The Retired Judges and Chief Judges are entitled to 50% of their last drawn salary as Pension.
Acting Chief Justice
· The President can appoint a judge of the Supreme Court of India as an acting Chief Justice of India if –
o office of Chief Justice of India is vacant
o Chief Justice of India is temporarily absent
o Chief Justice of India is unable to perform the duties of his office.
Ad hoc Judge
· When the Chief Justice of India, due to lack of Quorum of Permanent Judges to hold or continue any session of the Supreme Court, appoints a judge of High Court for temporary period which is known as Ad hoc Judge.
· However, the Chief Justice can do so only after the previous consent of President and after consulting the concerned chief Justice of High Court.
· During this, he enjoys all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges and performs the duties of a judge of the Supreme Court.
· At any time, the chief justice of India can request a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a retired judge of a high court (who is duly qualified for appointment) to act as a judge of the Supreme Court for a temporary period.
· He can do so only with the previous consent of the president and also of the person to be so appointed.
· Such a judge is entitled to such allowances as the president may determine.
Seat of Supreme Court
· The Constitution declares Delhi as the seat of the Supreme Court.
· Constitution also authorises the chief justice of India to appoint other place as seat of the Supreme Court. He can take decision in this regard only with the approval of the President.
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