The Supreme Court had its inaugural sitting on the January 28, 1950. It was attended by, apart from the first six judges of the Court, the Chief Justices of various High Courts, the first Attorney General, the Advocates General of States, as well as the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and various other dignitaries. In the last seven decades, the Court has withstood the test of time and the onslaught of social, political and economic changes in the country.
Thanks to the robust Constitution that we have given to ourselves, the Court has, apart from being the final arbiter of disputes, zealously safeguarded the precious rights of citizens. There has, however, been a dark patch in the history of the Court, when during the Emergency, it let down the citizenry and shied away from its solemn duty to preserve the rights of the citizens.
Barring aberrations like these, the Court has served as an exemplary democratic institution. “Sentinel on the qui vive” is how Chief Justice Patanjali Shastri described the role of the Court when it came to protecting the rights of the citizens. The principles enunciated by the Court while interpreting the Constitution and the statutes have found recognition in other jurisdictions as well.