KNC501/KNC601 Constitution of India, Law and Engineering

Chapter 6: Judiciary

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 5

Appendix

Judicial Activism

The judiciary plays an important role in upholding and promoting the rights of citizens in a country. The active role of the judiciary in upholding the rights of citizens and preserving the constitutional and legal system of the country is known as judicial activism. This entails, sometimes overstepping into the territories of the executive. Candidates should know that judicial overreach is an aggravated version of judicial activism. 

Judicial activism is seen as a success in liberalizing access to justice and giving relief to disadvantaged groups, because of the efforts of justices V R Krishna Ayer and P N Bhagwati.

The Black’s Law Dictionary defines judicial activism as “judicial philosophy which motivates judges to depart from the traditional precedents in favour of progressive and new social policies.”

The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is always talked of when judicial activism is discussed.

Judicial Activism Methods

There are various methods of judicial activism that are followed in India. They are:

    1. Judicial review (power of the judiciary to interpret the constitution and to declare any such law or order of the legislature and executive void, if it finds them in conflict with the Constitution).
    2. PIL (The person filing the petition must not have any personal interest in the litigation, this petition is accepted by the court only if there is an interest of large public involved; the aggrieved party does not file the petition).
    3. Constitutional interpretation.
    4. Access to international statutes for ensuring constitutional rights.
    5. Supervisory power of the higher courts on the lower courts.

Judicial Activism Methods

There are various methods of judicial activism that are followed in India. They are:

    1. Judicial review (power of the judiciary to interpret the constitution and to declare any such law or order of the legislature and executive void, if it finds them in conflict with the Constitution).
    2. PIL (The person filing the petition must not have any personal interest in the litigation, this petition is accepted by the court only if there is an interest of large public involved; the aggrieved party does not file the petition).
    3. Constitutional interpretation.
    4. Access to international statutes for ensuring constitutional rights.
    5. Supervisory power of the higher courts on the lower courts.

Significance of Judicial Activism

  • It is an effective tool for upholding citizens’ rights and implementing constitutional principles when the executive and legislature fail to do so.
  • Citizens have the judiciary as the last hope for protecting their rights when all other doors are closed. The Indian judiciary has been considered as the guardian and protector of the Indian Constitution.
  • There are provisions in the constitution itself for the judiciary to adopt a proactive role. Article 13 read with Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution provides the power of judicial review to the higher judiciary to declare any executive, legislative or administrative action void if it is in contravention with the Constitution.
  • According to experts, the shift from locus standing to public interest litigation made the judicial process more participatory and democratic.
  • Judicial activism counters the opinion that the judiciary is a mere spectator.

Judicial Activism Examples

It all started when the Allahabad High Court rejected the candidature of Indira Gandhi in 1973. 

  • In 1979, the Supreme Court of India ruled that undertrials in Bihar had already served time for more period than they would have, had they been convicted.
  • Golaknath case
  • Kesavananda Bharati case
  • In the 2G scam, the SC cancelled 122 telecom licenses and spectrum allocated to 8 telecom companies on the grounds that the process of allocation was flawed.
  • The Supreme Court rolled out a blanket ban on firecrackers in the Delhi – NCR area with certain exceptions in 2018.
  • The SC invoked terror laws against alleged money launderer Hasan Ali Khan.

Author – Dilip Kumar Rawat

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