Understanding the Supreme Court of India

Consisting of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and 30 sanctioned other judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions

The Supreme Court (SC) is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India.


Consisting of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and 30 sanctioned other judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions.

It safeguards fundamental rights of citizens and settles disputes between various governments in the country.

As an advisory court, SC hears matters which may specifically be referred to it under the Constitution by the President of India. It also may take cognisance of matters on its own without anyone drawing its attention to them.

The law declared by SC becomes binding on all courts within India and also by the union and state governments.

A judge is appointed to SC by the President on the recommendation of the collegium — a closed group comprising CJI, the four most senior judges of the top court and the senior-most judge hailing from the HC of a prospective appointee.

SC judges retire at the age of 65.

As head of SC, the CJI is responsible for allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law.

On the administrative side, the Chief Justice carries out the following functions: maintenance of the roster; appointment of court officials and general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the apex court.

It has been an unbroken convention for decades now, to appoint the senior-most judge of SC as CJI.

Article 124 of the Constitution of India provides for the manner of appointing judges to the Supreme Court.

Though no specific provision exists in the Constitution for appointing CJI, as a result, the outgoing CJI recommends the name of the senior-most judge (ie by date of appointment to SC) for appointment by the President of India, as his successor.

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