Types of Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

SC has five types of jurisdictions; original, appellate, advisory and review and inherent jurisdiction.

Original Jurisdiction

SC can be approached directly in the following cases:

  • Any case regarding the enforcement/infringement of fundament rights[i]
  • Any disputes between:
    1. The Central government and the government of any state(s);
    2. The government of two or more states when the existence of extent of a legal right depends.[ii]
  • Contempt of Court[iii]
  • Any cases regarding international commercial arbitration[iv]
  • To issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them
  • To direct the transfer of a criminal or civil case from:
    1. High Court in one State to the High Court in another State;
    2. One subordinate court to another State High Court.[v]
  • If the SC deems that cases involving the same questions of law are pending before it and one or more High Courts, and that these are significant questions of law, it can withdraw the cases before the High Court (or Courts) and dispose off all these cases itself.[vi]

Appellate Jurisdiction

SC hears the appeals against any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.[vii]

Appeals also lie to the Supreme Court in civil matters if:

  • The case involves a substantial question of law of general importance
  • In the opinion of the High Court, the question arisen needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.

In criminal cases, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court if the High Court has:

  • Reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years,
  • Withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any Court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused and sentenced him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years,
  • Certified that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has also a very wide appellate jurisdiction over all Courts and Tribunals in India in as much as it may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal under from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any Court or Tribunal in the territory of India.[viii]

Advisory Jurisdiction

Under this jurisdiction, Supreme Court has special advisory jurisdiction where the President can request the Court to offer its opinion on any issue of law or fact of public importance.[ix]

Review Jurisdiction

This jurisdiction gives the Supreme Court the authority to review its past judgements[x] on the ground if:

  • There had been an apparent error on the face of record leading to the perversity of judgement;
  • New evidence has been uncovered which was not available earlier despite the best attempt by the party or out of no fault of the party.[xi]

Inherent Jurisdiction

Supreme Court has the inherent jurisdiction to hear any matter that comes before it, unless a statute or rule limits that authority or grants that exclusive authority to some other specific Court or Tribunal.[xii]

Extraordinary Jurisdiction

Supreme Court can entertain matters in which interest of the public at large is involved. The Court can be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition or by addressing a letter to Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India for invoking this jurisdiction. Such concept is popularly known as ‘Public Interest Litigation’ and is unique to the Supreme Court of India only.

[i] Article 32 of the Constitution

[ii] Article 131 of the Constitution

[iii] Article 129 & 142 of the Constitution

[iv] Section 2(1)(e) of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

[v]Article 139A(2) of the Constitution

[vi] Article 139A(1) of the Constitution

[vii] Article 132(1), 133(1) & 134 of the Constitution

[viii] Article 136 of the Constitution

[ix] Article 143 of the Constitution

[x] Article 137 of the Constitution

[xi] Order XLVII, Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure

[xii] Article 142 of the Constitution

Author: Debapriya Biswas,
Amity Law School, Noida (3rd year)

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