The Supreme Court has three types of jurisdiction.

  1. Original
  2. Appellate
  3. Advisory

Original Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court alone has the authority to hear directly certain cases. These are:

  • (a) Disputes between the Union government and one or more State governments
  • (b) Disputes between two or more States
  • (c) Disputes between the Government of India and one or more States on the one side and one or more States on the other side

Appellate Jurisdiction

The power of a superior or higher court to hear and decide appeals against the judgment of the lower court is called appellate jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court is a court of appeal for constitutional, civil and criminal cases. It can hear appeals against the judgments of the High Courts. It also has the power to review its own judgment.

It may in its own discretion grant special lease to appeal against any judgment or order delivered or passed by any court or tribunal within the territory of India.

Moreover, an appeal may come to the Supreme Court in any criminal case, if the High Court certifies that the case is fit for appeal to the Supreme Court.

The special appellate power has become a handy weapon in the hands of the Court to review the decisions pertaining to elections and Labour and Industrial Tribunals.

Advisory Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has a special advisory jurisdiction in matters which may specifically be referred to it by the President of India. If at any time, it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen or is likely to arise, which is of such public importance that it is urgent to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court on it, he or she may refer it to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion. The report or the opinion of the Supreme Court is not binding on the President. Similarly, there is no compulsion for the Court to give its advice.

Court of Record

The Supreme Court is a court of record. The records of the Supreme Court, in matters of interpretation of the law or of the constitution, have to be accepted when produced before the lower courts.

Special Functions

Guardian of the Constitution

As the interpreter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to protect and defend the Constitution. If the Court finds that any law or executive order is against the Constitution, the same can be declared unconstitutional or invalid.

Similarly, the Supreme Court also acts as the custodian and protector of Fundamental Rights. If any citizen feels that his or her fundamental rights have been infringed, he or she may move to the Supreme Court directly for the protection of his or her fundamental rights. The Right to Constitutional Remedies empowers the Supreme Court to act as the guardian of the Constitution.

Judicial Review

The Supreme Court of India has the power to examine the validity of laws or executive orders. The Supreme Court has the powers to interpret the Constitution, and through this it has assumed the power of judicial review.