Constitution of India

Article 135 – Jurisdiction and powers of the Federal Court under existing law to be exercisable by the Supreme Court.

The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next Article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.


135. “Jurisdiction and powers of the Federal Court under existing law to be exercisable by the Supreme Court.—Until Parliament by law otherwise provides, the Supreme Court shall also have jurisdiction and powers with respect to any matter to which the provisions of article 133 or article 134 do not apply if jurisdiction and powers in relation to that matter were exercisable by the Federal Court immediately before the commencement of this Constitution under any existing law.”


Article 135 was included in the Constitution to enable the Supreme Court to exercise jurisdiction in cases which were not covered by articles 133 and 134, in respect of matters where the Federal Court had jurisdiction to entertain appeals, etc. from the High Courts under the previously existing law.

The pre-existing right of an aggrieved party to appeal continued to exist even after the Federal Court was abolished by article 395 of the Constitution. Article 135 confers on the Supreme Court the same jurisdiction and power with respect to any matter to which the provisions of articles 133 or 134 do not apply, if the jurisdiction and power in relation to that matter were exercisable by the Federal Court immediately before the Constitution under any existing law. Thus, an appeal will lie to the Supreme Court from a judgement, decree or final order of the High Court given in a suit or proceeding instituted before the commencement of the Constitution if it satisfies the conditions of valuation under the law existing at the commencement of the Constitution.
Where the parties had an automatic right to go before the Federal Court, the right could not be taken away from them for no fault of their own merely because the Supreme Court came into existence in place of the Federal Court. Article 135 confers on the Supreme Court the same jurisdiction and power with respect to any matter to which the provisions of article 133 or article 134 do not apply, if the jurisdiction and power in relation to that matter were exercisable by the Federal Court immediately before the Constitution under any existing law. The word “exercisable” should not be used in limited and restricted sense. If the position that at the date of the institution of the civil proceeding a right vested in the litigant to appeal to the Federal Court, be accepted then it becomes difficult to hold that such vested right did not constitute a “matter” in relation to which jurisdiction and power were “exercisable” by the Federal Court immediately before the commencement of the Constitution. The word “Matter” is certainly a word of wide import and by interpreting it in a liberal way the vested rights of appeal may well be brought within the purview of article 135. Such jurisdiction and powers were “exercisable” in the sense that they could be exercised as soon as a judgment, decree or final order was passed provided that with respect to it a litigant had already acquired a vested right of appeal. There is no reason why the operation of article 135 should be limited to cases where the right of appeal was not a mere potentiality but had actually arisen in a concrete form immediately before the commencement of the Constitution.

Article 135 means that even if article 133 does not apply, it has still to be seen whether it is a matter as regards which jurisdiction and powers were exercisable by the Federal Court immediately before the commencement of the Constitution. It is unnecessary to refer in detail to the earlier enactments defining the jurisdiction of the Privy Council, and the Government of India Act, 1935 establishing the Federal Court and conferring a limited jurisdiction on the same. It is sufficient to point out that as the law then stood, the Federal Court had jurisdiction to entertain and hear appeals from a decree of a High Court which reversed the lower court’s decree as regards properties of the value of more than `10,000. The aggrieved party had a right to go before it, without any special leave being granted. It was a matter over which jurisdiction was “exercisable” by the Federal Court.

Source: Subhash C Kashyap, Constitutional Law of India

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