SECTION 16. Judicial Power.—The judicial power shall be vested in one (1) Supreme Court, and in such lower courts as may be established by law. Such lower courts include the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, Regional Trial Courts, Shari’a District Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, and Shari’a Circuit Courts and they shall continue to exercise their respective jurisdictions until otherwise provided 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, in cases prescribed by law, 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.
SECTION 17. Composition of the Supreme Court.—The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in divisions of three, five or seven Members.
SECTION 18. Jurisdiction and Powers of Supreme Court.—The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
(1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.
(b) All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.
(c) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.
(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
(e) All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.
(3) Assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other stations as public interest may require. Such temporary assignment shall not exceed six (6) months without the consent of the judge concerned.
(4) Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade; and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
(6) Appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law.
SECTION 19. Apportionment of Jurisdiction.—Congress shall define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of the various courts but may not deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction enumerated in the immediately preceding section. Neither shall a law be passed increasing its appellate jurisdiction as therein specified without its advice and concurrence.
No law shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its Members.
SECTION 20. Administrative Supervision.—The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof.
SECTION 21. Judicial and Bar Council.—(1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Member, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.
(2) The regular members of the Council shall be appointed by the President for a term of four (4) years with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. Of the Members first appointed, the representative of the Integrated Bar shall serve for four (4) years, the professor of law for three (3) years, the retired Justice for two (2) years, and the representative of the private sector for one (1) year.
(3) The Clerk of the Supreme Court shall be the Secretary ex officio of the Council and shall keep a record of its proceedings.
(4) The regular Members of the Council shall receive such emoluments as may be determined by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall provide in its annual budget the appropriations for the Council.
(5) The Council shall have the principal function of recommending appointees to the Judiciary. It may exercise such other functions and duties as the Supreme Court may assign to it.
SECTION 22. Appointment of Members of Judiciary.—The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three (3) nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy. Such appointments need no confirmation.
For the lower courts, the President shall issue the appointments within ninety (90) days from the submission of the list.
SECTION 23. Prohibition Against Performing Quasi-Judicial or Administrative Functions.—The Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by law shall not be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.