Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the land as established by Chapter IV of the Constitution of India.

Articles 124 to 147 of the constitution of India lay down the constitution and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court of India had its inaugural sitting on January 28,1950 and since then has delivered more than 24,000 reported judgments.

After its inauguration on January 28, 1950, the Supreme Court commenced its sittings in a part of the Parliament House. The Court moved into the present building in 1958.

Table of contents
1 Confrontation with Parliament
2 Golden Jubilee

Confrontation with Parliament

Land reform (early confrontation)

After some of the courts overturned state laws redistributing land from zamindar (landlord) estates on the grounds that the laws violated the zamindars' fundamental rights, the Parliament of India passed the first amendment to the constitution in 1951 followed by the fourth amendment in 1955 to protect its authority to implement land redistribution. The Supreme Court countered these amendments in 1967 when it ruled in the Golaknath v State of Punjab case that Parliament did not have the power to abrogate the fundamental rights, including the provisions on private property.

Other laws deemed unconstitutional by Supreme Court

Parliament's response

Supreme Court's response

(The basic structure of the Constitution cannot be altered for convenience)

On April 24, 1973, the Supreme Court responded to the parliamentary offensive by ruling in the Keshavananda Bharati v the State of Kerala case that although these amendments were constitutional, the court still reserved for itself the discretion to reject any constitutional amendments passed by Parliament by declaring that the amendments cannot change the constitution's "basic structure". This was however later overruled by Parliament during the 1975-77 Emergency period in January 1977 when it passed another amendment to the constitution which prevented the Supreme Court from reviewing any amendment to the constitution with the exception of procedural issues concerning ratification.

Eventually Parliament passed another amendment (arguably to avoid confrontation) stripping the Supreme Court of many of its powers to try and put an end to such confrontations. This was later reversed in 1977.

Golden Jubilee

In November 1999, the golden jubilee of the Supreme Court was observed. Some of the activities during this were:

There was also a function on January 28, 2000 to commemorate 50 years of the Supreme Court attended by, among others:

This function was presided over by His Excellency, the President of India.