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Supreme Court is the final Pedestal for justice

Written by: Mansi Trivedi - Student, Nirma University, Institute fo Law, V Sem
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Concept of Justice
“In determining nation’s rank in political civilization, no test is more decisive than the degree in which justice as defined by the law is actually realized in its judicial administration”[1].

Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, natural law, fairness, equality and equity. Justice is the key feature of the society. It is the proper ordering of things and persons. In literal terms it means equality. Equality among all the human beings.

"Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats... This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need"[2].

“Justice as a divine law is commanding, and indeed the whole of morality, is the authoritative command”[3].
In his A Theory of Justice, John Rawls used a social contract argument to show that justice, and especially distributive justice, is a form of fairness: an impartial distribution of goods. Rawls asks us to imagine ourselves behind a veil of ignorance which denies us all knowledge of our personalities, social statuses, moral characters, wealth, talents and life plans, and then asks what theory of justice we would choose to govern our society when the veil is lifted, if we wanted to do the best that we could for ourselves. We don’t know who in particular we are, and therefore can’t bias the decision in our own favor. So, the decision-in-ignorance models fairness, because it excludes selfish bias. Rawls argues that each of us would reject the utilitarian theory of justice that we should maximize welfare (see below) because of the risk that we might turn out to be someone whose own good is sacrificed for greater benefits for others. Instead, we would endorse Rawls’s two principles of justice:
Ø Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.

Ø Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both

o To the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and

o Attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity[4].
Supremacy of justice and has a wider connotation in the socio-legal sphere. It upholds the sanctity of the legal system in meting out justice to whoever knocks on its doors. ‘Satyameva Jayate’ This one phrase encaptures the essence of the visions and ideals of the judicial system in India. Judiciary is one organ which by punishing the guilty, infuses faith in the citizens regarding the supremacy of law and the in the omnipotence of justice. Hence anyone trying to hinder the process of justice and circumventing the ends of justice is deemed to be a criminal in the eyes of law.

A supreme court, also called a court of last resort or high court, is in some jurisdictions the highest judicial body within that jurisdiction's court system, whose rulings are not subject to further review by another court. The designations for such courts differ among jurisdictions. Courts of last resort typically function primarily as appellate courts, hearing appeals from the lower trial courts or intermediate-level appellate courts. Many countries in fact have multiple "supreme courts," with each being the court of last resort for a particular geographical region or on a particular area of law. Many higher courts create through their decisions case law applicable within their respective jurisdictions or interpret codal provisions in civil law countries to maintain a uniform interpretation.

Most common law nations have the doctrine of stare decisis in which the previous rulings (decisions) of a court constitute binding precedent upon the same court or courts of lower status within their jurisdiction. Supreme Court is the higher and the final authority for any of the judgment. Going to its hierarchy any case starts from FIR and finally almost all the cases which involve any national interest or question of Fundamental Rights come to the SC for its final decision. SC is the sovereign authority for any decision. Going to the past records and cases there has been many cases which went to the High Court and are taken up by the Supreme Court for it has the power to give the decisions on these kinds of cases.

“The judiciary was to be an arm of the social revolution upholding the equality that Indians had longed for”.

There is a division of powers between the Central and the State Govt. therefore, to maintain the supremacy of the constitution, there must be an independent and impartial authority to decide the dispute between the Central and the State Govt. The Supreme Court under Constitution is a kind of arbitrator. It is the final interpreter and guardian of the Constitution. Apart from this it is also the guardian of Fundamental Rights of the people. “it is the great tribunal which has to draw the line between individual liberty and social control”[5]. The Supreme Court has to play the role of “guardian of social revolution”[6].

Jurisdiction of The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has the original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction.

Ø Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to any dispute between the Government of India and one or more States or between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other or between two or more States, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.

Ø The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court concerned under Article 132(1), 133(1) or 134 of the Constitution in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. Appeals also lie to the Supreme Court in civil matters if the High Court concerned certifies under certain circumstances.

Ø The Supreme Court has special advisory jurisdiction in matters which may specifically be referred to it by the President of India under Article 143 of the Constitution.

Law declared by the Supreme Court is binding is binding on all the courts. Article 141 of Constitution of India provides this provision that any law, judgment, order or decree shall be binding on all the lower courts in India. But it also provides that Supreme Court is not bound by its own decisions and it may reverse its own decision. It has a high command and power over the lower courts by the grace of Constitution. There has been various cases where such a thing has been noticed. In the case of Bengal immunity Co. v State of Bihar[7], the court held that, there is nothing in the Indian Constitution which prevents the Supreme Court departing from its previous decision if it is convinced of its error and its beneficial effect on the general interest of public.

In Golanath v State of Punjab[8] the SC has reversed two of its decisions i.e. Shankari Prasad’s case and Sajjan Singh’s case. And again in the Fundamental right’s case[9], the SC reconsidered its decision in Golaknath’s case, and overruled it.

Enforcement of Decree And Orders of Supreme Court
Art. 142 provides that the SC in exercise of its jurisdiction, may pass such decree or orders as is necessary for doing complete justice in the matter pending before it. The decree of the court shall be enforceable until provision is made by the parliament that it shall be in the manner prescribed by the president. Art. 144 provides that, all the authorities civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in the aid of that Supreme Court. The power under Art 142 is inherent power and can be used for doing complete justice. And under Art. 144, the power is very wide and the court can formulate legal doctrines to meet the ends of justice. The object of this article is to enable the court to declare law to give such directions or pass such orders as are necessary to do complete justice.

[1] Ref. of Prof. Sidgwick in the book of V. D. Mahajan
[2] John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edn, Oxford: OUP, 1999), p. 3
[3] Divine Command Theory,Wikipedia
[4] Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edition, Oxford: OUP, 1999), p. 266.
[5] Sri Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyer, Member of drafting committe
[6] G. Austin- The Indian Constitution Cornerstoneof Nation, p.169
[7] AIR 2003 SC 87
[8] AIR 1967 SC 1643
[9] Keshvananda Bharti v. State of Kerela, AIR 1973 SC 1461

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