A short drive from India gate roundabout to the adjacent telemark reveals a monolithic institution regarded as the third pillar of democracy, the pride of the nation- the Supreme Court of India, with an exquisite beauty and the reverting history of its evolution to its present avatar.
During the British rule, an Act of Law replaced the Supreme courts established at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay with three High Courts. This idea translated into a reality with the inauguration of the federal court on December 6,1937. In 1947, post the drafting of the constitution for a newly independent India the SC of Independent India came into existence. The inaugural ceremony was held on January 28th, 1950, at the princess’s chamber facing the central hall of the parliament house. The court carried out its functions from here until a new building came into existence. The foundation stone which was laid on October 29, 1954, and on August 4th, 1958, the Supreme Court of an independent India moved to its present building.
The constitution confers (not an exhaustive list) on the Supreme Court:
- Original Jurisdiction (under Article 1312 of the Constitution)
- Appellate Jurisdiction (invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court concerned under Article 132(1)3, 133(1)4 or 1345 of the Constitution) and
- Advisory jurisdiction (under Article 1436 of the Constitution)
- Article 142 (1)7 any order or decree of the SC will be treated as the Law of the land until parliament makes a law in accordance or contrary to it.
- The power of judicial review (under Articles 328 and 1369 of the Constitution)
- Curative petitions
- Public Interest Litigations.
The building is designed in an Indo-British style in a shape of a balance with a pair of scales, which is a well-planned compound of the prime chord designed by the chief architect Ganesh Bhikaji Deolalikar.
Many extensions were added to the original structure built in 1958:
- In 1979, two new extensions to the east and west wings were added to the complex.
- In 1994, a second extension was undertaken connecting the east and the west wings extensions.
- A new extension was further inaugurated on November 4, 2015.
To cope with the ever growing scope of work with the apex court, a new additional building complex was built in a plot measuring 12.19 acres, which was acquired in 2013 for this purpose at Pragati Maidan, a 21st century ultra-modern-technological construction. It sets new standards in energy efficient and environment friendly building designs.
The new additional building complex of the SC is as much a testimony to the changing times as it is to the growing needs of the nation its apex court, and at the same time it also speaks of India where what is modern and futuristic can seamlessly blend with its glorious past, its heritage, its history and legacy.
- How is a case brought to the threshold of the SC?15
A duly authorized agent or an advocate on record files a petition in English language at the filing counter along with the prescribed documents. The petition post-due scrutiny is presented before the court for hearing on acceptance it becomes a case that awaits justice at the hands of the SC judges. The honorable CJI and other honorable judges convene meeting in the assembly hall to deliberate over crucial matters that deserves immediate attention of the court. The day’s agenda is slated and the judges proceed towards their respective court rooms to set the agenda into motion.
Being a court of record the SC does not have a witness box. Advocates plead their cases and bench adjudicates on hearing the same.
With an ever increasing number of cases being filed by the petitioners, the judges today shoulder a herculean responsibility of over 80,000 cases annually, having a case disposal rate of 2650/Judge/Year. Assisting in this herculean task, hundreds of court employees working under the guidance of the Secretary General, who heads the administrative wing better known as the registry, the administrative wing is majorly responsible for the efficient and effective functioning of the SC.
- Public Appearances in the SC17?
By virtue of being a public court, the SC visitor management system was launched in the year 2014 to ensure convenient accessibility. It maintains a visitor’s lounge to allow public access to all court proceeding once they have met the identity and security checks required by the court.
The spine of all legal proceedings, regarded as one of Asia’s largest (colonnaded multi-level) library housing 300,000 books and journals is pivotal in maintaining, furnishing and processing all existing legal material at lightning speed.
The emblem embedded into the wall above the entrance to the CJI’s court on which is inscribed
यतो धर्मः ततो जयः19
Meaning where there is dharma there is victory.
We all place true faith and expect nothing but rightful justice from apex court. The architecturally coherent and artistically sound the SC has over the years protected the dharma from every peril possible.
- Yato Dharmastato Jaya is a Sanskrit shloka, which occurs a total of eleven times in the epic Mahabharata, and means “Where there is Dharma, there will be Victory”.
This article has been authored by Manav Kothary, first-year law student Karnavati University(UWSL). Presently contributing author at The Blue Letters.