– an institution empowered to administer justice
– a system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state.
– provides a system for settlement of disputes.
– protects people’s rights.
the other organs of the government do not limit the functioning or interfere in the decisions of the judiciary
In order to ensure Rule of Law*, the judiciary has to be independent of political influence; judges must be able to function without fear or favour.
*’Rule of Law’ means that all individuals irrespective of gender, caste, religion, region, social, political, economical status are subject to the same law.
Legislature is not involved in the process of appointment of judges.
It is believed that this will ensure that party politics would not play a role in their appointment.
They hold office till the age of retirement. Constitution has made the procedure for removal of judges very difficult.
Salaries and allowances of judges are not subject to the approval of the legislature.
Actions and decisions of court are immune from criticism.
Parliament cannot discuss the conduct of a judge, except when a resolution for his removal is being considered.
Powers & Functions of Supreme Court
Guardian of the constitution
The Supreme court has the privilege of protecting the constitution against violation of its provisions by the government or by the people. It is the Supreme court’s responsibility to see that the laws of the constitution are adhered to by all in India.
As the guardian of the Constitution, the Supreme court exercises the power of interpreting the contents of the Constitution. Any matter relating to technical interpretation of the Constitution is the sole prerogative of the Supreme court.
Original Jurisdiction means that cases can be directly considered by the Supreme Court without going to lower courts. Therefore, the Supreme Court becomes the arbitrator for cases between the Union and the states and between states.
The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the country. An appeal can be made to the Supreme Court against the decisions of the High Court, and the Supreme Court may change its ruling. High Courts also have appellate jurisdiction over the courts below them.
The President of India may seek the advisory opinion of the Supreme court on important and necessary issues. This is purely advisory in nature, and the executive may or may not agree to the advice.
The Supreme court may also decline to give advisory opinion.
The utility of advisory powers is two-fold. – It allows the government to seek legal opinion on a matter of importance before taking action on it. This may prevent unnecessary litigation later. – In the light of the advice of the Supreme Court, the government can make suitable changes in its action or legislation.
The Supreme court is the guardian of fundamental rights and therefore under article 32, enjoys the power of issuing constitutional writs to safeguard fundamental rights. Writs such as habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari and quo warranto (refer to map on Fundamental Rights) may be issued by the Supreme court against the government or individuals.
The Supreme court has the power of declaring a law made by the legislature or an executive action as ‘null and void’ or ‘unconstitutional’, if it violates the provisions in the constitution or the law of the land.
Court of Records
The proceedings and judgements of the Supreme court are kept preserved to be made use of as precedents in future cases and judgements.