131. "Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.- Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute-
(a) between the Government of India and one or more States; or
(b) between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
(c) between two or more States,
if and in so far as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends:
Provided that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad or other similar instrument which, having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution, continues in operation after such commencement, or which provides that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.
The Supreme Court has been given original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Article 131 speaks of the original jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction means the power to hear and determine a dispute in the first instance. The Supreme Court has been given exclusive original jurisdiction which extends to disputes (a) between the Government of India and one or more States, (b) between the Government of India and one or more States on one side and one or more States on the other, (c) between two or more States. However, this jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of treaty, agreement, etc. which is in operation and excludes such jurisdiction.
It is to be noted that Article 131 accords not only original but also exclusive jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in certain matters which means that in those matters no other court has authority to hear or determine a case.
Disputes which can be raised before the Supreme Court in its exclusive original jurisdiction under Article 131:
- must be disputes between the Union and the States or the States inter se
- must raise questions of a legal right.
Article 131 begins with the words "subject to the provisions of this Constitution" which means that where jurisdiction has been given to other bodies under other provisions of the Constitution or jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is excluded, the exclusive jurisdiction provision of Article 131 shall not apply as, for example, under Articles 262 (inter-State water disputes), 280 (matters referred to Finance Commission), 290 (adjustment of certain expenses and pensions between the Union and the States), etc.
There is some divergence in the pronouncements of the Supreme Court in regard to the nature of judgments to be delivered under Article 131.One view has been that only declaratory judgments i.e., those ending with making a declaration about the existence or otherwise of a legal right are required while the other and more logical view is that in matters where the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction, once the existence of legal right is established, the Supreme Court would also proceed to provide all the necessary relief to the aggrieved party.
Source: Subhash Kashyap: Constitutional Law of India