Article VIII, 1987 Constitution
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and such in lower courts as may be established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
Meaning of Judicial Power
JUDICIAL POWER is the power to apply the laws to contests or disputes concerning legally recognized rights or duties between the Sate and private persons, or between individual litigants in cases properly brought before the judicial tribunals.
Scope of Judicial Power
It includes the duty of courts of justice:
•to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable; and •to determine whether there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction(infra) on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government •to pass upon the validity or constitutionality of the laws of the state and the acts of the other departments of the government; •to interpret and construe them; and
•to render authoritative judgments
•It likewise includes the incidental powers necessary to the effective discharge of the judicial functions such as the power to punish persons adjudged in contempt.
Giving of Advisory Opinions not a Judicial Function
The judiciary is entrusted by the Constitution with the function of deciding actual cases & controversies. It cannot be required by law to exercise any power or to perform any duty not pertaining to, or connected with, the administration of judicial functions. It is not its function to give advisory opinions. It is a function of executive officials.
The doctrine of separation of powers calls for the other departments being left alone to discharge their duties as they see fit. The president and congress are not bound to seek the advice of the Judiciary as to what to do or not to do. It is a prerequisite that something had been accomplished or performed by either of them before a court may enter into the picture. At such time, it may pass in the validity of what was done but only when properly challenged in an appropriate legal proceeding.
Furthermore, with so many cases pending in courts where in there is an actual and antagonistic assertion between the parties, it would not serve public interest at all if on matters moot and academic their time and attention would still have to be devoted.
Judicial Power Vested in One Supreme Court & in Lower Courts
Judicial power, under the constitution is “vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.” The judiciary composed of the courts is one of the three main divisions of power in our government.
Under the provision, only the Supreme Court is a constitutional court in a sense of being a creation of the constitution. All other courts including the Sandiganbayan are statutory courts in the sense that they are creations of law. They are referred to as lower courts in the Constitution, meaning courts below the Supreme Court.
In the exercise of its legislative power, congress may abolish any or all lower courts and replace them with other courts to the limitation that the reorganization shall not undermine the security of tenure.
It cannot, however, abolish the Supreme Court; neither can it create an additional supreme court because the constitution provides for only “one Supreme Court”. Neither can it abolish the Sandiganbayan because it existence is constitutionally recognized although congress, in the exercise of legislative power, may determine its functions and jurisdiction. The decisions of the Supreme Court are binding all lower tribunals.
Organization of Courts