The Indian constitution consists of the legislature, executive and the judiciary. The legislature department is involved in preparing policies and law-making concerns. The executive is involved in implementing the laws created by the legislature body.
The judiciary is an independent department not attached with the legislature or the executive. It is an independent judicial body that is vested with judicial powers and can carry on its judicial activities without direct interference from the government.
Judicial activism in Indian democracy
The judiciary in many ways is closest to the citizens or the nation. The many functions of the judiciary ensure legal protection to the citizens of the country.
If we were to settle a family dispute and go to court seeking relief, we would be advised to apply a case and the proceedings of the court would be held at the respective family courts. Thus, the judiciary ensures fair legal protection to every citizen of this nation.
The judiciary carries out many functions under its umbrella. Every citizen is provided with equal and fair justice under law. Whenever a citizen seeks protection under law, he is ensured such protection under relevant laws of the Indian judicial system. Laws are created by the legislature, executed by the executive and applied by the judiciary.
It is like the father creating the rules of the house, the mother creating suitable environment for its execution and the children applying the rules in their lives. Any country needs a legal framework within which it can operate and make decisions for the country. This legal framework and binding is actually curated by the judiciary to uphold the legal decorum of any nation.
Any violation of the fundamental rights of citizens of the country is acted upon seriously by the judicial system. Every citizen is entitled to certain basic rights termed the fundamental rights under our constitution. The constitution needs protection under law and this is taken care of, by our judicial system. Legal decisions pertaining to every single case is taken by respective judges of courts.
Every such legal decision is brought into enforcement by our judiciary. There are numerous times when we find disputes arising between states, termed inter-state conflicts. The judiciary resolves such inter-state disputes and comes up with an amicable resolution to put an end to such conflicts before they take on political colors.
The water dispute arising every year between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu regarding the sharing of Cauvery waters is a good example in this regard. The case is pending in the Supreme Court and the judiciary is trusted to solve such issues amicably to bring in peace and harmony between the two warring states.
Not just interstate disputes, any conflict that may arise between the centre and the state is also solved by the judiciary. Whenever there is any problem in the country where the legal framework gets violated or people act against the legal system of the country, it attracts punishment under various sections of the constitution.
Any such crimes or anti social elements acting against the dignity of our judicial system and the country as a whole is treated as offence and tried under law. Enquiry commissions headed by expert panels of senior lawmakers and judges are usually formed in cases of dispute resolutions.
The enquiry commissions submit a relevant report to the government to let them know of the impending situation and the previous activities thus ensued, thus revoking further action by the government.
This system is also called the judges’ selection system by a panel of judges. The collegium system actually has no mention or place in the Indian constitution. It was not even placed under any amended section of our constitution. This system came into force, thanks to a judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court in the year 1993.
The functions of the collegiums system include identifying most eligible members for posting them as suitable judges of the Supreme Court. This selection and scrutinizing is carried out by the so called ‘collegium system’. It comprises of a body of five senior judges of the Apex court, who are instructed and directed by the CJI to carry on the task successfully.
Many chief justices of high courts are handpicked in a similar manner to be promoted to the Supreme Court after the above explained scrutiny process.
Famous controversies associated with our judiciary
‘Master of Roster’ controversy
Suppose there lies a family dispute between two parties ‘A’ and ‘B’ that has not reached the court doors as yet. Let us also assume that both the parties trust a mutual friend ‘C’ who will now be entrusted with the task of solving the matter between A and B. C is like a neutral friend to both A and B. In case C newly discovers that he is a close relative of A, then he might choose to act more favorably towards A.
He might also not blame A in any way in the controversy between A and B and hold B responsible for the dispute and create an imbalanced decision holding B at fault. This selection of the culprit was not at all fair and does not warranty fair execution of laws under our system either. The master of roster controversy can be understood in a similar light.
In April 2018, Shanti Bhushan who happens to be a former law minister questioned the current practice in our legal system where the Chief Justice decides the allocation of various cases available. He extended a PIL in this respect and spoke against the wholesome powers resting with the chief Justice when he decided to allocate a particular case to a particular judge / bench of judges.
It was not to be seen as a personal attack against any particular Chief Justice of India (CJI), either in the past or the present, but he only questioned the arbitrary power associated with the CJI in deciding the allocation. Any bench comprising of judges chosen by the CJI could be politically influenced or could take on personal interests and thus may not uphold the sanctity of justice as laid down in the constitution.
The CJI could actually consult top brass and senior judges of the Supreme court and then decide on the allocation was the argument that could be understood from this controversy.
Differences between Chief Justice and senior Supreme Court judges
There have been numerous times when the selection of judges for higher courts have become a matter of controversy for the judiciary. The recent one in January 2018 that comprised CJI Dipak Misra and four senior most judges of the Supreme Court is a good example.
The four senior judges raised the issue of assigning cases to supreme courts, among many other issues against the CJI. This matter was discussed between the Supreme Court and the judges in the court for more than fifteen minutes and the CJI led body failed to come up with a resolution stating that it would entertain the issue only when the apex court registry comes up with a suitable petition for the same.
The judiciary of our nation works to provide citizens the much needed civil liberty and highest protection under law. It is the legal framework of the nation, applied by the judiciary that provides every citizen of the country his right to live with dignity.
Be it property disputes, disputes of succession, registration of will, marriage and divorce issues, higher level cases that affect a larger part of the nation etc, the judiciary is the legal umbrella of the nation.