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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

1 - The Structure and Functioning of the Supreme Court of India

from Part I - The Supreme Court of India – An Institutional Overview


The Indian Supreme Court sits in panels and can have up to 31 judges. This chapter explores how the Indian Supreme Court developed its current structure and the impact of this structure on its functioning. It argues that the Supreme Court’s structure has a range of inter-related effects that includes increasing access to the Court, producing a “polyvocal” jurisprudence that destabilizes stare decisis, spurring experimentation among judges, fostering a “Chief Justice dominant” Court, and reducing the perceived partisanship of judges. Mapping the structure of the Court, as well as the Court’s relationship with the rest of the judiciary, helps us appreciate how judges ultimately interpret the law and the Constitution not in isolation, but within a larger judicial architecture.