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Plenary jurisdiction of Supreme Court

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Plenary jurisdiction of Supreme Court:


Former law minister Ashwani Kumar has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and other judges of the top court urging them to take note of the worsening COVID-19 situation and issue “suitable directions” to the Centre and State governments to ban political rallies, protest assemblies and religious or festive congregations of more than 50 people.

  • He asked the Supreme Court to issue suitable directions suo-moto in the exercise of its plenary jurisdiction (Under Article 142).

Need for:

It is officially acknowledged and medically confirmed that the life-threatening surge in the number of corona cases, which is highest in the world, is substantially on account of a free run enjoyed by the super-spreading events, including political rallies, religious congregations and festive events. While there may be a case against a complete lockdown, it was essential to put a stop to mass gatherings that spread the COVID-19 infection.

What is Article 142?

Article 142 “provide(s) a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, i.e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.

  • Article 142(1) states that “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe”.


Prelims Link:

  1. Examples of invocation of Article 142 by the Supreme Court.
  2. Similar powers to High Courts.
  3. Original vs Appellate jurisdictions.

Mains Link:

“The Supreme Court’s use of its vast powers under Article 142 has done tremendous good to many deprived sections. However, it is time to institute checks and balances.” Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.