Author : MANJIMA

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


In a modern welfare state the judiciary plays a pivotal role in maintaining the order in the society. The conventional understanding of the powers held by the court is necessary. The essentialist conceptions of the doctrine of separation of powers in which the justices and courts is to decide disputes and controversies coming before them.

The judiciary has great power which it derives from the Constitution itself. It upholds the sanctity of the legal system in giving justice to whomever knocks on its doors. The powers of court can only be limited by the law. The judiciary is a well-established system in a way it can cater to the needs of every person in the country. The judicial system is in the form of a pyramid with the Supreme Court at its apex. India works on three tiers of judicial system the Supreme Court, High court and the subordinate court.

 The power of the various criminal courts is mentioned from section 26-35, under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

1. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court of the country. The Supreme Court of India, being the apex court of India, was established under Article 124 of Part V and Chapter IV of the Constitution of India. It is a ‘court of record’ and confers all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for its contempt as well as of its subordinate courts. The Constitution of India provides that the law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all courts.

Federal Court

The original and exclusive jurisdiction of the supreme court of India is to resolve controversies between the Union and the states or between the states this power is conferred by Article 131.

Interpretation of the Constitution

The apex court has the power to interpret and decide issues related to the constitution. The violating part of any issue is declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of India often invoked the following principles of interpretation of law viz., doctrine of pith and substance, doctrine of severability and doctrine of colourable legislation etc.[1]

Power Of Judicial Review

The judicial review is an integral part of the constitution. Review refers to the power of the judiciary to interpret the constitution and to declare any such law or order of the legislature and executive void, if it finds them in conflict the Constitution of India.[2] The Supreme Court is invested with the power of judicial review under Article 32 .It is not only the right and power but also the duty of the Supreme Court to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens. In the case Federation of Bar Assn. v. Union of India[3]the court held that where there is no violation of fundamental right, the court can decline Jurisdiction. In this the court declined relief in public interest litigation (PIL) for the establishment of High court Benches at other places in Karnataka.

Court of Appeal

The apex court is the highest court for appeal. Under Article 132 (1) of the Constitution of India, an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order of a High Court whether in civil, criminal or other proceedings, if the High Court certifies under Article 134-A that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution. Supreme Court also has the power to review the decisions of lower courts such as lower federal courts and state courts and even overturn the decision. This power of the Supreme Court is labeled as appellate jurisdiction. A certificate of the grant is to be provided according to Article 132(1), 133(1) and 134 of the Constitution with respect to any judgment, decree or final order of all cases of the High Court involving the question of law. Appeals to the Supreme Court can be made under the following categories:-

1. Constitutional Matters

2. Civil Matters

3. Criminal Matters

4. Special Leave Petition [4]

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) this judicially developed weapon in recent years has attained considerable amount of advancements towards reaching the constitutional objectives. [5]


The Supreme Court has an advisory jurisdiction. Article 143 reads as if at any time it appears to the President that – (a) a question of law or fact has arisen or is likely to arise and (b) the question is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court. upon it, he may refer the question for the advisory opinion of the Court and the Court may after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon. [6]

Our Constitution guarantees us the right to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of our fundamental rights. The Supreme Court is the guardian of fundamental rights.

In the case of Nar Singh Pal v Union of India, the Supreme Court has asserted: “Fundamental Rights under the Constitution cannot be bartered away. They cannot be compromised nor there do any estoppel against the exercise of Fundamental right available under the Constitution.” The doctrine of non-waiver developed by the Supreme Court of India denotes manifestation of its role of protector of the Fundamental Rights.[7]

For a judiciary to be impartial and independent it should be free from all kinds of political pressure so that it can protect the rights of individual and provide equal justice without free or favour.

2. High Courts

According to Article 214 that there shall be a high court in each state. The high court stands at the head of judiciary in the state. The High Courts provide the first platform where the initial discussion on a subject or controversy takes place and then the dispute travels to the Supreme Court to get fait accompli.The high courts have original jurisdiction in matters of testamentary, matrimonial and guardianship. The Appellate Jurisdiction is for the cases coming up from the lower court the High Court is the Appellate Court for the cases coming up from the lower court in the state. They have a supervisory jurisdiction over the subordinate courts present in the state.

Article 226 empowers the High courts to issue directions, orders or writs for the enforcement of fundamental rights and for any other purpose also. The jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 for the enforcement of fundamental rights is mandatory, whereas for enforcement of ordinary legal rights it is discretionary[8]and the power cannot be exercised as a court of appeal.[9]The jurisdiction is supervisory in nature therefore it can strike down an impugned rule and direct the authorities to reframe it, but cannot itself reframe it.[10]

In the case of Gian Singh v. State of Punjab the Supreme Court explained the power of the High Courts under Section 482 CrPC. and had held that, “these powers are to be exercised to secure the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of process of any Court and these powers can be exercised to quash criminal proceedings or complaint or FIR in appropriate cases where offender and victim have settled their dispute and for that purpose no definite category of offence can be prescribed.” [11]

3. Subordinate Courts –

In each state below the High Courts there is a system of Sub-ordinate courts. The independence of subordinate courts is secured from the influence of executive by the constitution. In every district there are civil and criminal courts.

 In civil courts the court of the district judges is the highest civil court in a district. It exercises both judicial and administrative powers. It has the power of superintendence over the courts under its control.

Under the criminal courts; there are courts of the District and Sessions Judge, Additional Sessions Judges, Assistant Sessions Judge and the courts of the first class Magistrates. The District and Sessions judge may pass any sentence provided by law but to pass a death sentence it requires confirmation from the High Court whereas an Assistant-sessions Judge has power to pass sentence a person to ten years imprisonment. A first class Magistrate may pass a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees. In Metropolitan cities, the Metropolitan Magistrates can try offences punishable with seven years of imprisonment and fine. In every district and metropolitan area, an Executive Magistrate shall be appointed by the State Government and one of them becomes District Magistrate.


The courts derive its power from the Constitution. The courts have been vested with powers by the constitution to ensure that there is no abuse of power by authorities and the people’s rights are protected. Therefore every offence is to be enquired and tried by a Court within whose jurisdiction the offence was committed. The Indian Judiciary is the guardian of the Constitution of India, along with being a custodian of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens. The courts are open to public view.


[2] https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/essay/judicial-review-in-india-meaning-features-and-other-details/40369#:~:text=Judicial%20Review%20refers%20to%20the%20power%20of%20the,India%20is%20the%20supreme%20law%20of%20the%20land.

[3]Federation of Bar Assn. v. Union of India (2000) 6 SCC 715.

[4] https://blog.ipleaders.in/power-criminal-courtsindia/#:~:text=The%20Judiciary%20derives%20its%20powers%20f



[7] Nar Singh Pal v Union of India(2000)AIR SC 1401.

[8] Manjula Manjari Devi v. Director of Public Instruction,AIR (1952) Ori  344.

[9] State of U.P. v. S.K.M. Inter college (1995) Supp(2)SCC 535.

[10] Swapan Kumar Choudhary v. Tapas Chakarvorty,(1995)4 SCC 478.

[11] Gian Singh v. State of Punjab (2012) 10 SCC 303.