KNC501/KNC601 Constitution of India, Law and Engineering

Chapter 8: The Legal System

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 5

Appendix

Role of the Judiciary

The functions of the judiciary in India are:

1. Administration of justice

The chief function of the judiciary is to apply the law to specific cases or in settling disputes. When a dispute is brought before the courts it ‘determines the facts’ involved through evidence presented by the contestants. The law then proceeds to decide what law applies to the case and applies it. If someone is found guilty of violating the law in the course of the trial, the court will impose a penalty on the guilty person.

2. Creation of judge-case law

In many cases, the judges are not able to, or find it difficult to select the appropriate law for application. In such cases, the judges decide what the appropriate law is on the basis of their wisdom and common sense. In doing so, judges have built up a great body of ‘judge-made law’ or ‘case law.’ As per the doctrine of ‘stare decisis’, the previous decisions of judges are generally regarded as binding on later judges in similar cases.

3. Guardian of the Constitution

The highest court in India, the SC, acts as the guardian of the Constitution. The conflicts of jurisdiction between the central government and the state governments or between the legislature and the executive are decided by the court. Any law or executive order which violates any provision of the constitution is declared unconstitutional or null and void by the judiciary. This is called ‘judicial review.’ Judicial review has the merit of guaranteeing the fundamental rights of individuals and ensuring a balance between the union and the units in a federal state.

4. Protector of Fundamental Rights

The judiciary ensures that people’s rights are not trampled upon by the State or any other agency. The superior courts enforce Fundamental Rights by issuing writs.

5. Supervisory functions

The higher courts also perform the function of supervising the subordinate courts in India.

6. Advisory functions

The SC in India performs an advisory function as well. It can give its advisory opinions on constitutional questions. This is done in the absence of disputes and when the executive so desires.

7. Administrative functions

Some functions of the courts are non-judicial or administrative in nature. The courts may grant certain licenses, administer the estates (property) of deceased persons, and appoint receivers. They register marriages, appoint guardians of minor children and lunatics.

8. Special role in a federation

In a federal system like India’s, the judiciary also performs the important task of settling disputes between the centre and states. It also acts as an arbiter of disputes between states.

9. Conducting judicial enquiries

In a federal system like India’s, the judiciary also performs the important task of settling disputes between the centre and states. It also acts as an arbiter of disputes between states.

Author – Dilip Kumar Rawat

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