Would you agree with Chief Justice Ahmadi that an activist role has been thrust upon the judiciary?
There are two theories about the functioning of the judiciary. One believes in judicial restraint and the other in judicial activism. When a constitutional issue comes before the judge, he has to make a choice dictated by his social philosophy. There are some like me who believe that the judge has to invest the law with meaning and content to advance human rights jurisprudence. When the executive fails to discharge its constitutional or legal duties and the legislature does not act, the judiciary has to step in. Though the judiciary is not elected, it is accountable to the people and committed to justice.
Is this increase in judicial activism a temporary phenomenon?
Judicial activism started in the early '80s when Justice Krishna Iyer and I delivered several judgements. It is not necessarily a temporary feature. But its intensity depends on the extent to which the executive or the legislature fail to perform its constitutional or legal duties.
You used to convert postcards and letters into public interest litigations. Is that where it all began?
I started public interest litigations in India and even entertained letters from social action groups. This was to vindicate the rights of the weaker sections because I found that justice was totally denied to them by our legal system. Today, when there is tremendous corruption and total misuse of power by politicians and the bureaucracy, the judiciary is the only bulwark and it
has to act actively to maintain democracy and the rule of the law.
Of late, the judiciary has taken some decisions which are the purview of the legislature or executive, leading to criticism that judges have crossed the line.
There may be a few cases where the judiciary has strayed into the executive or the legislature's territory. If judges feel that democracy is in peril, I would excuse them if they exceeded their legitimate powers because what they are doing is for the benefit of the people. But a word of caution is necessary—for though the cause may be worthy, judges should not stray too far in a field not allocated to them under the Constitution, because that can become counter-productive and defeat the purpose of judicial intervention.
What corrective measures do you suggest?
The only solution is to develop people's power. The people must learn to assert themselves.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT