Powers of the Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court was established on January 28, 1950, two days after India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic. The Supreme Court was inaugurated at the Parliament building’s Chamber of Princes, which also houses India’s Parliament and incorporates the Council of States and the House of the People.

The Supreme Court of India is the most powerful common law court in the legal system. The Indian Constitution established the Supreme Court in 1950 with eight judges. The size and structure of the Supreme Court has evolved drastically over time, and currently, the court has 31 seats.

The Supreme Court hears approximately 60,000 appeals and petitions annually and issues nearly 1,000 judgements. Benches of two or three judges are common, except for larger benches (which are becoming increasingly rare). The decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on all lower courts in India.

Powers of the Supreme Court of India

The Supreme court—the country’s apex court, is entrusted with the powers of judicial review. The Supreme Court is also responsible for resolving disputes through appeals. To understand the scope of functioning of the apex court, let us discuss the powers of the Supreme Court of India:

  • The first and foremost power of the Supreme Court of India is safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens and aliens through judicial review.
  • Addressing and resolving the cases taken up as an appeal against the orders of the high courts of various states under its appellate jurisdiction (Article 133-136)
  • The Supreme Court can settle disputes between various state governments, the central and state governments or between various government authorities under its original jurisdiction (Article 131)
  • It entertains the cases referred to it by the President of India for seeking advice and plays an advisory role in such matters under its advisory jurisdiction (Article 143)
  • One of the powers of the Supreme Court of India is that it can take up matters on its own by taking suo moto cognisance.
  • The decisions of the Supreme Courts are binding on all subordinate courts throughout the country.
  • A person whose fundamental right is violated can seek redressal from the Supreme Court by filing writs under its writ jurisdiction (Article 32).

Although the Supreme Court’s decisions are based on lower court judgments or decrees, including those of the High Courts, the Court also hears cases concerning the general interest of the public.

Any individual or individual group can file a writ petition with the court and write to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India highlighting the issue of ‘Public Interest Litigation.’ This has resulted in several landmark decisions involving concerns of public importance. The concept is unique to the Supreme Court of India, and no other court in the world can likely exercise this exceptional power.

A writ petition submitted at the filing counter is treated and processed in the same manner as any other writ petition. A letter addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is handled according to established guidelines.

Functions of the Supreme Court

Original jurisdiction

Article 131 of the Indian Constitution defines original jurisdiction.

The court addresses the conflicts between the Union and states, the Government of India and state governments, or two or more states by exercising its original jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over such matters, which states they can be brought before it directly and no other court. Suits by a private party against governments cannot be entertained.

Writ jurisdiction

A person can approach the apex court directly under its writ jurisdiction by filing writs under Article 32 of the constitution of India. The Supreme Court can question subordinate courts or actions of government authorities under its writ jurisdiction. These writs are as follows:

  • Habeas corpus
  • Certiorari
  • Mandamus
  • Quo warranto
  • Prohibition

Appellate jurisdiction

The Supreme Court is entrusted with appellate powers. When a person is not satisfied with the decision of the subordinate court, he is entitled to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The power of the Supreme Court to entertain appeals is exercised only in the following particular instances:

  • The case has a substantial question of law
  • Ihe opinion of the high court, the Supreme Court must decide the case
  • The case is certified by a high court to be fit for appeal to the Supreme Court

Appeal by special leave

When an issue of justice is implied, the Supreme Court may interfere in the ruling of the High Court or tribunals through special leave. The Supreme Court has these residuary powers under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.

Advisory jurisdiction

The President can refer a case to the Supreme Court to seek advice on some issues. The President may believe that the subject involves interpretation of an important point of law for the public interest and seek suggestions from the Supreme Court.

Court of record

The functioning of the Supreme Court is videotaped and published as case laws. The decisions of the court are maintained as a record for future reference. The decisions by the apex court are referred to as ‘ratio decidendi’, and the same is binding on every subordinate court in the country.


The role of judges in the Supreme Court of India is clearly defined in the Court structure in the Indian Constitution. The powers of the Supreme Court of India govern its functioning and set standards of prescribed procedure to seek justice from the highest judicial body of the country.

Understanding how judges and litigants navigate the system and the environment in which the law and the Constitution are eventually understood and realised in India requires mapping this more significant architecture.


When was the Supreme Court established?

The Supreme Court of India was established on January 28, 1950, that is, after 2 days of India becoming a republic..

Which Article of the Indian Constitution mentions the powers of the Supreme Court?

Article129 of the Indian Constitution prescribes all the powers of the apex court.

What are the essential jurisdictions of the Supreme Court of India?

The jurisdictions of the Supreme Court comprise original, advisory, and appellate jurisdiction.

Which Article details the Establishment and Constitution of Supreme Court?

Article 124 of the Indian Constitution covers the Establishment and Constitution of the Supreme Court.

Court Laws