The 73-year-old court can nullify executive acts, parliamentary laws and amendments to the Constitution. It also has the power to initiate cases independently, appoint "friends of the court" to help it in cases, and set up expert panels to aid in its decision-making process.
Today, 34 judges handle an overwhelming load of nearly 70,000 appeals and petitions, issuing some 1,000 judgements every year.
Yet, despite its great authority and power, the "court is in crisis", say Aparna Chandra, Sital Kalantry and William HJ Hubbard in an exhaustive data-driven account called Court on Trial. And the authors find that one of the main reasons is the huge backlog of cases that also leave litigants in limbo and drain them financially.
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