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The Court And The Government

Snapshots from the history of the Supreme Court of India

The Court And The Government
The Court And The Government

Where Supreme Court expanded central govt powers

  • Interpretation of lists (union, state, concurrent)
  • Reorganising states
  • Centralised planning
  • Power over states (including Emergency)

Inaugural sitting of the Supreme Court on January 28, 1950

The Supreme Court

  • Founded in October 1937 as Federal Court, and on  Republic Day, 1950, as Supreme Court
  • Strength at the time of founding: Chief Justice of India and seven judges
  • Current sanctioned strength: 31
  • Appointments made by CJI and four puisne judges
  • Final court of appeal and constitutional court, top administrator of justice delivery
  • Advocates-on-record chosen through rigorous examination after minimum five years law practice

The Chief Justice of India

  • Constitutional authority; customarily, the seniormost among the SC judges is chosen
  • Administrative head of the Indian judiciary and the Supreme Court
  • First CJI of Independent India: Justice H.J. Kania
  • Current: 45th CJI Justice Dipak Misra

CJI Dipak Misra (left), Justice Chelameswar

Master of the Roster

  • Ållegations arose in the medical institute case
  • Justice Chelameswar marked it to five seniormost judges
  • CJI broke a sitting constitutional bench to form another
  • Fresh constitutional bench that excluded five seniors took over the matter
  • CJI was declared “master of roster” in a background of chaos and heckling
  • PIL to probe alleged bribery dismissed on merits

Kesavanand Bharti

Pre-Emergency Tussles

  • In three cases (bank nationalisation, privy purse, Golak Nath), the Supreme Court scuttled overnight ordinances that diluted fundamental rights
  • The Congress-majority Parliament retorted with constitutional amendment, also barring judicial review of such amendments
  • 13-judge bench heard Kesavanand Bharti back-to-back for 65 days
  • Bare majority decision froze basic structure, upheld fundamental rights

Indira Gandhi and Justice A.N. Ray

  • Indira Gandhi appointed seniormost among dissenting judges in Kesavanand Bharti as next CJI, superseding three senior to him

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

  • June 24, 1975: Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer upheld election case against Indira Gandhi
  • June 25, 1975: Emergency declared
  • Habeas Corpus case dissenting judge H.R. Khanna superseded by Mirza Hameedullah Beg

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