The birth of India’s powerful Supreme Court
Although judges of the Federal Court continued to serve on the Supreme Court, the jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court bear little resemblance to those of its predecessor
In summarizing the evolvement of the paramount judiciary in India between 1921 and 1964, one can single out at least ten events which are of special importance. In listing these chronologically, the first would be Sir Hari Singh Gour’s resolution, introduced during the first session of the Central Legislative Assembly in 1921, in which he urged the establishment of an indigenous appellate tribunal. Gour’s resolution marked the beginning of efforts made to persuade the colonial authorities, and Indian nationalist leaders as well, that there was real need and justification for the creation of a central judicial institution on Indian soil. The purposes Gour sought to achieve were really quite modest. He sought the establishment in India of a court which would be empowered to decide civil and criminal appeals from the High Courts of British India, and a reduction in the number of such appeals which for decades had gone directly from the High Courts to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. Although Gour and others could offer many substantial arguments in support of their proposals, their efforts met with failure for several years, chiefly because key Indian leaders were not convinced that India’s interests would be served best by decreasing the role of the Privy Council, which over the years had earned a reputation for impartiality and integrity which placed it in a category apart from all other colonial institutions.
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