Chapter IV of the Indian Constitution lay down the constitutional provisions relating to the original and appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court. Under this chapter, the powers of supreme court as follows-
- Article 124 lays down that there shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of Chief Justice of India and other Judges. Article 32 confers original jurisdiction on this Court for enforcement of fundamental rights of the citizens. This jurisdiction can be invoked by an aggrieved person even without exhausting his remedy before other courts.
- Article 129 provides that the Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.
- Article 131 confers original jurisdiction on the Supreme Court in certain matters.
- Article 132 confers appellate jurisdiction on this Court against any judgment, decree or final order of the High Courts in India.
- Articles 133, 134 and 134A confer appellate jurisdiction in the Supreme Court in appeals from High Courts in regard to civil and criminal matters respectively on certificate to be issued by the High Court.
Article 136 provides for special leave to appeal before the Supreme Court, notwithstanding the provisions of Articles 132, 133, 134 and 134A. Article 136 vests this Court with wide powers to grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree determination sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India except a court or Tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.
The bare provision is as follows-
136. Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court. —
“(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.
(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.”
The Court’s appellate power under Article 136 is plenary, it may entertain any appeal by granting special leave against any order made by any Magistrate, Tribunal or any other subordinate court. The width and amplitude of the power is not affected by the practice and procedure followed by this Court in insisting that before invoking the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, the aggrieved party must exhaust remedy available under the law before the appellate authority or the High Court.
Self-imposed restrictions by this Court do not divest it of its wide powers to entertain any appeal, against any order or judgment passed by any court or Tribunal in the country without exhausting alternative remedy before the appellate authority or the High Court. The power of this Court under Article 136 is unaffected by Article 132, 133, 134 and 134(A) in view of the expression “notwithstanding anything in this Chapter” occurring in Article 136.
The Court’s Rulings
This Court considered the scope and amplitude of plenary power under Article 136 of the Constitution in Durga Shankar Mehta v. Thakur Raghuraj Singh & Ors., . Mukherjee, J. speaking for the Court observed:
“The powers given by Article 136 of the Constitution however are in the nature of special or residuary powers which are exercisable outside the purview of ordinary law, in cases where the needs of justice demand interference by the Supreme Court of the land. The article itself is worded in the widest terms possible.
It vests in the Supreme Court a plenary jurisdiction in the matter of entertaining and hearing appeals, by granting of special leave, against any kind of judgment or order made by a court or Tribunal in any cause or matter and the powers could be exercised in spite of the specific provisions for appeal contained in the Constitution or other laws. The Constitution for the best of reasons did not choose to fetter or circumscribe the powers exercisable under this Article in any way.”
In Arunachalam v. P.S.R. Sadhanantham & Anr.,  the Court entertained an appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution of India by special leave at the instance of a complainant against the judgment and the order of acquittal in a murder case and on appraisal of evidence, it set aside the order of acquittal. Objections raised on behalf of the accused relating to the maintainability of the special leave petition under Article 136 of the Constitution, was rejected. Chinnappa Reddy, J. speaking for the Court held as under:
“Article 136 of the Constitution of India invests the Supreme Court with a plenitude of plenary, appellate power over all courts and Tribunals in India. The power is plenary in the sense that there are no words in Article 136 itself qualifying that power.
But, the very nature of the power has led the court to set limits to itself within which to exercise such power. It is now the well-established practice of this Court to permit the invocation of the power under Article 136 only in very exceptional circumstances, as when a question of law of general public importance arises or a decision shocks the conscience of the Court. But, within the restrictions imposed by itself, this Court has the undoubted power to interfere even with findings of fact, making no distinction between judgments of acquittal and conviction, if the High Court, in arriving at those findings, has acted “perversely or otherwise improperly”.”
With regard to the competence of a private party, distinguished from the State, to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, the Court observed:
“Appellate power vested in the Supreme Court under Article136 of the Constitution is not to be confused with ordinary appellate power exercised by appellate courts and appellate tribunals under specific statutes. As we said earlier, it is a plenary power, exercisable outside the purview of ordinary law’ to meet the pressing demands of justice.
Article 136 of the Constitution neither confers on anyone the right to invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court nor inhibits anyone from invoking the Court’s jurisdiction. The power is vested in the Supreme Court but the right to invoke the Court’s jurisdiction is vested in no one. The exercise of the power of the Supreme Court is not circumscribed by any limitation as to who may invoke it.”
There is therefore no room for any doubt that supreme Court has wide power to interfere and correct the Judgment and orders passed by any court or Tribunal in the country. In addition to the appellate power, the Court has special residuary power to entertain appeal against any order of any court in the country. The plenary jurisdiction of this Court to grant leave and hear appeals against any order of a court or Tribunal, confers power of judicial superintendence over all the courts and Tribunals in the territory of India including subordinate courts of Magistrate and District Judge.
  1 SCR 267
  2 SCC 297
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