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Explain the Original Jurisdiction and Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India. - History and Civics

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Answer in Brief

Explain the original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India.

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The Supreme Court, as a federal court, makes decisions for disputes between Various units of the Federation of India. It can directly hear several cases which cannot be heard by any other court.
For e.g.

  • The Central government and one or more states;
  • The Central government and any state or states Vs one or more states;
  • Between two or more states.

In these federal disputes, the Supreme Court holds original jurisdiction exclusively. No other court has the right to decide on these. disputes and by original, it means that it has the right to hear these disputes at the first instance and not as an appeal.

However, even in these cases, this jurisdiction can only extend when the dispute is about a question a law or fact, on the existence of which another law depends.

This doesn’t mean that any suit brought by a citizen against the government can be entertained under this power. Article 32 of the Constitution vests the powers of protector of Fundamental Rights in the Supreme Court and any person who feels that their rights were violated can appeal in the Supreme Court. All matters connected to the Fundamental Rights of the citizens of the country come under the Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. It is the highest interpreter of the Constitution in the country.

Supreme Court is also the highest court of appeal in India. Whatever the decision that the Supreme Court makes, stands true all over the country. The cases that come to the Supreme Court as appeals against what the lower courts have adjudged fall under the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court succeeded the erstwhile Federal Court of India and replaced the British Privy Council to become the highest court of appeal. Supreme Court is a court of appeal primarily and it hears those appeals made against the judgment of lower courts. Its wide appellate jurisdiction can be classed under four sections:

  • Appellate Jurisdiction in Civil cases.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction in Criminal cases.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction in Constitutional cases.
  • Special leave to Appeal.

Appellate Jurisdiction in Civil cases: In civil cases, there can be the appeal from the judgment, decree or the final order of the High Court, if the High Court, certifies that:
(i) the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance; or

(ii) in the opinion of the High Court the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. Earlier by the Thirtieth Amendment 1972, appeals could be made only respect of those cases which involved a sum of Rs. 20,000 or more. This provision was omitted by the 30th Amendment Act.

Appellate Jurisdiction in Criminal cases: In criminal cases, an appeal lies from any judgment, final order.or sentence given by the High Court if :

  • the High Court has reversed an order of acquittal of an accused and sentenced him to death; or
  • the High Court has withdrawn for trial, a case from any subordinate court and awarded death sentence to the accused; or
  •  the High Court certifies under Article 134(A) that the case is fit for appeal to the Supreme Court.

Appellate Jurisdiction in Constitutional cases: Constitutional cases involving substantive point of law, requiring the interpretation of the Constitution can be appealed in the Supreme Court, if the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law, as to the interpretation of the Constitution.

Special Leave to Appeal: Under Article 136, the Supreme Court can, in its discretion grant special leave to appeal against any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any case or matter decided by any court or tribunal in India.

Concept: Supreme Court - Composition, Qualifications of Judges, Appointment
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