Supreme Court of India: Powers, Functions, Composition, Supreme Court UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Supreme Court UPSC notes will aid the preparation of candidates aspiring to become Civil Services officers. It is the highest judicial court with the power of judicial review. It is a final court of appeal under the Indian Constitution. The federal system of India comprises a single and unified system. It also involves three-tier structures which include the Supreme Court of India, High Courts, and Subordinate Courts. There are multiple high courts and subordinate courts in different states, but there is only 1 supreme court in India located in Delhi.

Currently, there are 34 judges appointed in the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India. IAS aspirants must have detailed knowledge about each topic discussed in the Supreme Court UPSC notes. It is among the essential topics from the UPSC exam perspective in Prelims and Mains. In this article, we discuss the powers and functions of Supreme Court along with its composition, role, and jurisdiction.

Supreme Court of India

Under the Government of India Act 1935, the Federal Court of India came into existence. The Supreme court settles disputes among provinces and federal states and also discusses the appeals taken against the judgments of the high court. Independent India came up with the replacement of the Federal Court and Judicial Committee in the privy council with ‘The Supreme Court of India’. In 1950, the Constitution envisaged a chief justice along with 7 judges. However, the Parliament increased the number of judges in the supreme court. Presently, there are 34 judges, with one Chief Justice of India (CJI).

Composition of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India is composed of 34 judges, one Chief Justice of India (CJI) along with 33 other judges. The retirement age for the judges of the supreme court is 65 years. However, they can resign at any time by writing a resignation letter to the President, and upon the recommendations of the parliament, a judge can be removed by the President.

The judges of the Supreme court are appointed by the President. Discussions are held between the SC and the high court with the President; then, the CJI is appointed by the President. The President also consults with the CJI for the appointment of other judges in the Supreme court.

Some provisions that safeguard and ensure the impartial functioning of the Supreme Court are mentioned below:

  • Security of Tenure
  • Mode of Appointment
  • Expenses Charged on Consolidated Fund
  • Fixed Service Conditions
  • Ban on Practice after Retirement
  • The conduct of Judges Cannot be discussed
  • Freedom to Appoint its Staff
  • Power to Punish for its Contempt
  • Separation from Executive
  • Its Jurisdiction cannot be curtailed

Powers and Functions of Supreme Court

The power and functions of the Supreme court come under the Indian constitution. Let’s learn about the powers and functions of the Supreme court of India discussed in the following points:

Original Jurisdiction: This Federal Court works upon the various units of the Indian federation. For instance, it looks after the disputed matters existing between the Centre and states or disputes among two or more states. Thus, the Supreme Court of India comprises exclusive original jurisdiction. The original jurisdiction is also restricted by some limitations. The Court can not interfere in disputes related to any agreement, pre-Constitution treaty or Sansad, and so on. The Court abstains from discussing matters like the Finance Commission and inter-state water disputes. The other matters, such as commercial matters between the center and the states, are also out of the court’s concern.

Writ Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court of India is privileged to issue some major writs- Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo-Warranto, and Certiorari. The Supreme court of India is empowered to issue writs in order to enforce the fundamental rights of an afflicted citizen. With the presence of original jurisdiction, in this case, an afflicted citizen can easily move to the court. Therefore, the writ jurisdiction is exclusively empowered by both High Court and the Supreme Court.

Appellate Jurisdiction: The Supreme court of India is also known as the court of appeals as it hears and discusses the appeals against the judgments of the lower courts. The Appellate Jurisdiction is divided into four categories:

  • Appeals in civil matters
  • Appeals in constitutional matters
  • Appeals in criminal matters
  • Appeals by special leave

Advisory Judiciary: Under Article 143, the Constitution has authorized the President to approach the Supreme court for opinions in two cases: Any law or fact based upon public importance and disputes related to the agreement, pre-Constitution treaty, etc.

A Court of Records: Under the Court of Records, the court has two main powers. The acts of the Supreme court and general proceedings are recorded as evidence and testimonials. Such valuable records can never be questioned if presented before any court. These documental records are called legal precedents and legal references. It has the authority to punish contempt of court.

Power of Judicial Review: It has the power to analyze the laws that are approved by the legislative body under article 137 of the Indian Constitution.

☛ Read More:

Role of Supreme Court in India

Under the Constitution of India, Part 5- Chapter 6 contains the powers, functions, jurisdictions, appointment, and retirement provisions of the Supreme Court. All these are mentioned in Article 124 to Article 147 of the Indian Constitution. It is recognized as the highest court of appeal, also called the apex court of India. The people of India observe this Court be the ‘last resort’ as they can move to the supreme court to seek justice if they are dissatisfied with the judgment of the High court.

According to Article 32 of the Constitution, a citizen can directly search for way-outs through writs if their fundamental rights are violated.

The Supreme Court of India is authorized with a Judicial Review written in Article 13 of the Constitution. It basically means the Supreme Court has the authority to remove any legislative and executive action only if the acts are found to be irrelevant to the Constitution of India.

Supreme Court UPSC

Supreme Court UPSC Notes are significant for aspirants preparing for the Civil Services exam as questions from this topic are often asked in the Prelims and Mains examination. Topics such as the powers and functions of Supreme Court, its composition, the number of judges, jurisdictions, etc, must be prepared thoroughly to score well in the UPSC exam. Check the sample questions on this topic below to get an idea of what and how to prepare this topic for the IAS exam.

MCQ on Supreme Court UPSC

Practicing these sample questions on the topic of Supreme court UPSC will give you an idea of the question pattern. Try this question given below:

Q1. The judges of the Supreme Court can be removed by whom?

  1. Only the President.
  2. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  3. Only the Parliament.
  4. Both Parliament and President.

Answer: (d) Both Parliament and President.

Chief Justice of Supreme Court

Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud is the new Chief Justice of India, holding the position from 09 November 2022 onwards. He is the 50th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. As the head of the Supreme Court, the roles and responsibilities for this position include allocating cases and appointing other judges. The list of Chief Justice of the Supreme court from 1950, when our constitution was enacted, till the present date is tabulated below:

List of Chief Justice of Supreme Court


D. Y. Chandrachud

9 November 2022 till date

U. U. Lalit

27 August 2022 to 8 November 2022

N. V. Ramana

24 April 2021 to 26 August 2022

Sharad Arvind Bobde

18 November 2019 to 23 April 2021

Ranjan Gogoi

3 October 2018 to 17 November 2019

Dipak Misra

28 August 2017 to 2 October 2018

Jagdish Singh Khehar

4 January 2017 to 27 August 2017

T. S. Thakur

3 December 2015 to 3 January 2017

H. L. Dattu

28 September 2014 to 2 December 2015

Rajendra Mal Lodha

27 April 2014 to 27 September 2014

P. Sathasivam

19 July 2013 to 26 April 2014

Altamas Kabir

29 September 2012 to 18 July 2013

S. H. Kapadia

12 May 2010 to 28 September 2012

K. G. Balakrishnan

14 January 2007 to 12 May 2010

Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal

1 November 2005 to 13 January 2007

Ramesh Chandra Lahoti

1 June 2004 to 31 October 2005

S. Rajendra Babu

2 May 2004 to 31 May 2004

V. N. Khare

19 December 2002 to 1 May 2004

Gopal Ballav Pattanaik

8 November 2002 to 18 December 2002

Bhupinder Nath Kirpal

6 May 2002 to 7 November 2002

Sam Piroj Bharucha

1 November 2001 to 5 May 2002

Adarsh Sein Anand

10 October 1998 to 31 October 2001

Madan Mohan Punchhi

18 January 1998 to 9 October 1998

J. S. Verma

25 March 1997 to 17 January 1998

Aziz Mushabber Ahmadi

25 October 1994 to 24 March 1997

M. N. Venkatachaliah

12 February 1993 to 24 October 1994

Lalit Mohan Sharma

18 November 1992 to 11 February 1993

Madhukar Hiralal Kania

13 December 1991 to 17 November 1992

Kamal Narain Singh

25 November 1991 to 12 December 1991

Ranganath Misra

26 September 1990 to 24 November 1991

Sabyasachi Mukharji

18 December 1989 to 25 September 1990

Engalaguppe Seetharamaiah Venkataramiah

19 June 1989 to 17 December 1989

Raghunandan Swarup Pathak

21 December 1986 to 18 June 1989

P. N. Bhagwati

12 July 1985 to 20 December 1986

Y. V. Chandrachud

22 February 1978 to 11 July 1985

Mirza Hameedullah Beg

29 January 1977 to 21 February 1978

A. N. Ray

26 April 1973 to 27 January 1977

Sarv Mittra Sikri

22 January 1971 to 25 April 1973

Jayantilal Chhotalal Shah

17 December 1970 to 21 January 1971

Mohammad Hidayatullah

25 February 1968 to 16 December 1970

Kailas Nath Wanchoo

12 April 1967 to 24 February 1968

Koka Subba Rao

30 June 1966 to 11 April 1967

Amal Kumar Sarkar

16 March 1966 to 29 June 1966

P. B. Gajendragadkar

1 February 1964 to 15 March 1966

Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Sinha

1 October 1959 to 31 January 1964

Sudhi Ranjan Das

1 February 1956 to 30 September 1959

Bijan Kumar Mukherjea

23 December 1954 to 31 January 1956

Mehr Chand Mahajan

4 January 1954 to 22 December 1954

M. Patanjali Sastri

7 November 1951 to 3 January 1954

H.J Kania

26 January 1950 to 6 November 1951

How many Supreme Court in India?

Many people have a question in mind as to how many Supreme Court in India, but the fact is that being the apex court, there is only 1 such court present which is situated in Delhi. Apart from this, the number of high courts is 25 all over the country. Currently, there are 34 judges in the Supreme Court, including the CJI.

☛ Also Check:

Number of Judges in Supreme Court

In the Indian democratic system, the Supreme Court of India has a major role to play. The number of judges in the Supreme Court is 34, including the Chief Justice of India. There are two benches: Division (in which judges sit in benches of 2 or 3) and Constitutional benches (in which judges sit in benches of 5 or more).

☛ Read: Appointment and Removal of Supreme Court Judges

Supreme Court of India Judges

There are many provisions in the Indian Constitution to ensure the independence of the judiciary, which are as follows:

  • Once appointed, the judges of the Supreme Court will remain in office until they turn 65 years of age. Their tenure remains secure until and unless they are proven guilty on the grounds of incapacity or misbehavior and get removed through a presidential order.
  • The Supreme Court of India Judges enjoys good salaries and allowances, which cannot be decreased unless there is a financial emergency in the country. The per month salary of a Supreme Court judge is Rs. 2,50,000/-.
  • The jurisdiction and power of Supreme Court can be added only by the Parliament, which cannot be curtailed.

As per Article 124, in order to become a judge of the Supreme Court of India, one must fulfill the following criterion:

  • He/ She should be a citizen of India.
  • He/ She should be a judge of the High Court with 5 years of experience.
  • He/ She should be an advocate of the High Court with 10 years of experience.
  • He/ She must be a dedicated jurist in the opinion of the President.
Important Notes for UPSC
Press Council of India Silent Valley Movement
Right to Education Multipurpose River Valley Projects in India
Right to Freedom of Religion Santhal Rebellion
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium