Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (TH)

Context: The Odisha government on Monday decided to move the Supreme Court challenging the conduct of panchayat elections by Andhra Pradesh in three villages of Koraput district and violation of status quo on the border dispute.

Analysis

Jurisdiction and powers of Supreme Court

  • The Constitution has conferred a very extensive jurisdiction and vast powers on the Supreme Court.
  • It is not only a Federal Court like the American Supreme Court but also a final court of appeal like the British House of Lords (the Upper House of the British Parliament).
  • It is also the final interpreter and guardian of the Constitution and guarantor of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
  • Further, it has advisory and supervisory powers.
  • Therefore, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, a member of the DraftingCommittee of the Constitution, rightly remarked: “The SupremeCourt of India has more powers than any other Supreme Court inany part of the world.”
  • The jurisdiction and powers of the SupremeCourt can be classified into the following:
  1. Original Jurisdiction.
  2. Writ Jurisdiction.
  3. Appellate Jurisdiction.
  4. Advisory Jurisdiction.
  5. A Court of Record.
  6. Power of Judicial Review.
  7. Constitutional Interpretation
  8. Other Powers.

Original Jurisdiction

  • As a federal court, the Supreme Court decides the disputes between different units of the Indian Federation. More elaborately,any dispute:
  1. Between the Centre and one or more states; or
  2. Between the Centre and any state or states on one side andone or more other states on the other side; or
  3. Between two or more states.
  • In the above federal disputes, the Supreme Court has exclusive original jurisdiction.
  1. Exclusive means, no other court can decidesuch disputes and original means, the power to hear suchdisputes in the first instance, not by way of appeal.
  • With regard to the exclusive original jurisdiction of the SupremeCourt, two points should be noted.
  1. One, the dispute must involve a question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends. Thus, the questions of political nature are excluded from it.
  2. Two, any suit brought before the Supreme Court by a private citizen against the Centre or a state cannot be entertained under this.
  • Further, this jurisdiction of the Supreme Court does not extend to the following:
  1. A dispute arising out of any pre-Constitution treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad or other similar instrument.
  2. A dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, etc., which specifically provides that the said jurisdiction does not extent to such a dispute.
  3. Inter-state water disputes.
  4. Matters referred to the Finance Commission.
  5. Adjustment of certain expenses and pensions between the Centre and the states.
  6. Ordinary dispute of Commercial nature between the Centre and the states.
  7. Recovery of damages by a state against the Centre.

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