Classification of Cases in the Supreme Court


The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and apex court of appeal of India as established under the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court has over the past 68 years, played a central role in sustaining democratic institutions and rule of law.

Article 145 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court to make rules for regulating the practice and procedure of the court. The Supreme Court framed the Supreme Court Rules, 1950. After replacement in 1966, the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 regulates on practice and procedure of the Court and Office procedure on judicial side. It has fifty-seven orders, four schedules, and regulations regarding the functioning of the Supreme Court.

Classification of Cases

Type of casesAbbreviationRelevant orders of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013
Arbitration PetitionFcArticle 145 of the Constitution
Civil AppealAcOrder XIX
Contempt Petition (Civil)CcRule 3 of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975
Contempt Petition (Criminal)CrRule 3 of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975
Criminal AppealArOrder XX
Election PetitionEcOrder XLVI
Original SuitOcOrder XXV
Special Leave Petition (Civil)ScOrder XXI
Special Leave Petition (Criminal)SrOrder XXII
Special Reference CaseLcOrder XLIV
Transferred Case (Civil)NcOrder XL
Transferred Case (Criminal)NrOrder XL
Transfer Petition (Civil)TcOrder XLI
Transfer Petition (Criminal)TrOrder XXXIX
Tax Reference CaseXcOrder XLV
Writ Petition (Civil)WcOrder XXXVIII
Writ Petition (Criminal)WrOrder XXXVIII
Review Petition (Civil)RcOrder XLVII
Review Petition (Criminal)RrOrder XLVII
Curative Petition (Civil)QcOrder XLVIII
Curative Petition (Criminal)QrOrder XLVIII


Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 provides for appointment of arbitrators. S.11(5) provides that if the parties fail to agree on the appointment of the arbitrator in 30 days, the arbitrator will be appointed by the Chief Justice or any other person or institution designated by him. These requests by the parties are in the form of arbitration petition.

Also Read  Copyright License: Music and IPR


 It is an application or petition to appeal higher Court for are consideration of the decision of appeal lower court. There are two types of appeals which are dealt under the cases of Supreme Court: Civil and Criminal.

Civil Appeal

Article 132 and 134A of the Constitution provides an appeal lies to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court, if it certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance or relates to interpreting the Constitution.

Criminal Appeal

Article 134 provides that if the High Court has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death; or has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused person and sentenced him to death; or certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

Special Leave Petition

Special leave Petition may either be civil or criminal. These petitions are filed under Article 136 of the constitution from an order of the High Court on refusal to grant the certificate of fitness to appeal. These appeals can also be filed in other cases.

Contempt Petitions

These petitions are also two kinds:


 Wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court means civil contempt.


The publication of any matter or the doing of any other act which scandalizesor prejudices or interferes with administration of justice.

Election Petition

Election to the offices of the President and Vice President is regulated by the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act, 1952. In case of doubts and disputes related to such elections, election petitions are filed in the Supreme Court.

Also Read  Triple Talaq in India: Unbridled Authority in Islam

Original Suit

 Article 131, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in 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 other States on the other; or between two or more States. A suit filed in such disputes is registered as an Original Suit.


A reference can be filed by the Central Government or by any statutory tribunal according to the provisions of any Act. According to Article 143(1) of the Constitution, the President may refer a question of public importance to the Supreme Court for its opinion.

Transferred Case

Article 139A, provides that the Supreme Court may withdraw the case or cases pending before one or more High Courts and dispose of all the cases. These cases are registered as transferred cases.

Transfer Petition

Transfer petition are of two kinds:

Civil Cases

On the application of a party, the Supreme Court may order the transfer of any suit, appeal or other proceedings from a High Court or any other Civil Court of one State to the High Court or any other Civil Court of other State.

Criminal Cases

The Supreme Court may also direct the transfer of any particular criminal case or appeal from one High Court to another High Court, or from a Criminal Court subordinate to one High Court to another Criminal Court of equal or superior jurisdiction subordinate to another High Court. These transfers are done only on the application of Attorney General of India or of any interested party.

Tax Reference Case

If the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is of the opinion that, on account of a conflict in the decisions of High Courts in respect of any particular question of law, it can make a reference directly to the Supreme Court. Such references are registered as Tax Reference Case.

Also Read  The Regime of Goods and Services Tax in India

Writ Petition

Writ petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution relating to an infringement of a fundamental right in a civil case, other than habeas corpus, are registered as Writ Petition (Civil); criminal matter, including habeas corpus, are registered as Writ Petition (Criminal);  and even Public interest litigation is registered as Writ Petition (PIL).

Review Petition

The Supreme Court has the power to review any judgment or order made by it. The Court reviews its judgment on the application filed by the aggrieved party. Such applications are registered as a Review Petitions. It may be either civil or criminal.

Curative Petition

To prevent the abuse of its process and to cure a gross miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court may reconsider its judgment in the exercise of its inherent powers. In Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra& Another,[1]the court decided that only when very strong reasons exist, the Supreme Court entertains an application seeking reconsideration of its order which has become final on the dismissal of the review petition. It may be either civil or criminal.


Supreme Court being the apex court of the country entertains mostly cases of all nature. The Supreme Court Rules regarding the classification of cases has also enabled the weaker sections of society to reach the apex court. The Supreme Court is the guardian of rights of people and therefore classifies cases under so many headings. One of the principles of law is Audi altrem paltrem i.e. “no one should go unheard”, and the wide classification of cases enables the court to hear plea of every kind.

But what is also seen is that it is not easy to up roach the apex court there are certain restrictions, which when surpassed, the court would entertain these cases. It is also important that people and lawyers are well aware of this classification; otherwise it is possible that some cases worth the eye of Supreme Court never reach them for consideration.

Also read Role of Courts and Investigative Agencies in Access to Justice

[1] (2002) 4 SCC 388.

Leave a comment