The Structure and Functioning of the Supreme Court of India
A Qualified Hope: The Indian Supreme Court and Progressive Social Change (Gerald Rosenberg, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, & Shishir Bail Eds., Cambridge Univ. Press 2019)
14 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 8, 2019
This chapter is meant as a brief introduction to the structure and functioning of the Indian Supreme Court. It details the history of the expansion of the Supreme Court to 31 judges, a process largely driven by the Court’s expansive jurisdiction, and the Court's liberal interpretation of it. The chapter argues that the Court’s size and its panel structure (judges generally sit in panels of two or three) has a had a number of effects. These include the development of a polyvocal jurisprudence, greater experimentation among panels of judges, the rise of a dominant Chief Justice, and greater public perception of the Court as an apolitical institution. The chapter ends by briefly describing the Court’s relationship to the rest of the judiciary and positing that increased confidence in the broader Indian judicial system could lessen the perceived need for appeal and so further change the structure and function of the Indian Supreme Court in the future.
Note: Since this piece was sent to press the Indian Supreme Court expanded to 34 judges. The chapter is drawn heavily from extracts of Nick Robinson, Structure Matters: The Impact of Court Structure on the Indian and U.S. Supreme Courts, 61(1) AM. J. OF COMP. LAW 173 (2013).
Keywords: Indian Supreme Court, judicial systems, judicial review, court structure, Chief Justice
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation