Some of the major functions of judiciary are as follows:
(1) It interprets the laws:
A number of cases are brought before the judges in which the question of the interpretation of the laws arises, because in such cases the law is not clear. Even such matters are brought before them in which the laws are silent. In these cases or matters the judges give their decisions. Later, these decisions are quoted in similar cases. In this way the courts expand the laws in an indirect manner.
(2) Protector of Civil Rights:
People are given many rights by the state through the laws of the Parliament. The courts protect these rights.
(3) Decides the cases:
Many cases relating to the disputes between the citizens, or between the government and the citizens, are brought before the courts. The courts give their decisions on such disputes.
(4) Custodian of fundamental rights:
In modern times, many countries grant fundamental rights to the people in the Constitution. The Supreme Courts there act as the custodian of these rights. In the Constitution of our country, citizen violates these fundamental rights or if, because of this violation, a person loses his rights, an appeal can be filed in a High Court or the Supreme Court for the protection of these rights. It is the duty of the courts to protect the rights of the citizens. Our High Courts and Supreme Court have decided many cases in which the question of the violation of the fundamental rights was involved.
(5) Guardian of the Constitution:
Chief Justice Marshall of U.S.A. definitely decided in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that the courts had the inherent right to declare the acts of Congress invalid. Since then Marbury case forms the basis of this important authority exercised by the Supreme Court.
If a law passed by the Congress violates the Constitution, that law shall be declared as void because the Constitution is the highest law of the land and it is the duty of the courts to protect it. The principle which was devised by Chief Justice Marshall is known as Judicial Review. For the protection of the Constitution many laws have been declared illegal which violated any law or any clause of the Constitution.
(6) Decides the conflicts of jurisdiction between the Centre and State Governments in Federations:
In federal constitutions there is a division of powers between the Centre and the States. There is a possibility of disputes arising between the Centre and the State over the jurisdiction. Therefore, the Supreme Court is given the right to decide these disputes.
In India, the Supreme Court has been given, the right in the Constitution to render advice on Legal Matters when asked for by the President. Our late President Dr. Rajendra Prasad sought advice of the Supreme Court on the Kerala Education Bill. The Supreme Court advised that the Bill contained certain clauses which violated the Constitution.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad refused to give his assent to the Bill and returned it with his objections. Later, the Kerala Legislative Assembly removed all the objections and the President gave his assent. The Supreme Court recently (on 24 October 1994) for the first time rejected the Presidential reference.
(8) Miscellaneous functions:
The Court appoints Trustees or guardians of the property of minors. It gives approval of Civil Marriages. It appoints receivers of the companies which are Unable to meet their financial obligations. It also performs the act of the registration of Wills. It issues certificates for the grant of naturalised citizenship. In some countries it issues licenses. In our country, appeals relating the elections are also sent to High Courts.