THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA stands on a 17-acre triangular plot in central Delhi. It is built to resemble—from an aerial view—weighing scales, representing justice. The central wing, from which the scales hang, consists of 15 courtrooms. The right wing contains the offices of the attorney general for India and the solicitor generals of India, as well as the bar room for lawyers and a library. The left wing contains the administrative offices of the court.
Under the central dome of the building is the court of the Chief Justice of India. As the administrative head of the Supreme Court, the chief justice wields immense power over the court’s functioning, deciding what matters will be heard by which bench.
The chief justice’s courtroom has wood-panelled walls and a high ceiling, from which around a dozen fans hang low, spinning slowly. The judges sit on high-backed chairs lined with red velvet, placed on a raised platform under the seal of the Supreme Court. Arguing counsels sit on a bench placed on the floor about 15 feet away. A sense of occasion settles over visitors when they come in; lawyers often bow before entering and leaving the room.