28th November, 2015 (MAINS)


Q1.Starting from inventing the ‘basic structure’ doctrine, the judiciary has played a highly proactive role in ensuring that India develops into a thriving democracy. In light of the statement, evaluate the role played by judicial activism in achieving the ideals of democracy. [12.5marks/2014/GS-2]

Q2.What is meant by ‘Judicial Activism’? Evaluate its role in reducing corruption in public life. [10marks/1996/GS]

Q3. What is meant by ‘Judicial Activism’? Evaluate its role in the context of functioning of Indian polity. [30marks/2008/GS]   

Please write answers in the comments section.

  • Sooraj Mehra

    Judicial Activism refers to the use of judicial power to articulate and enforce what is beneficial to the society and people at large.
    It is the active process of implementation of rule of law, essential for the preservation of a functional democracy.

    In the Kesavanand Bharti v/s State of Kerala case, Supreme court upheld the validity of 24th Amendment Act and stated that the Parliament
    cannot take away any of the fundamental rights. The “basic structure” doctrine was also laid under which any of the provisions which form the “basic structure” of the constitution cannot be amended by the Parliament by any act.

    The addition of Public Interest Litigation has converted the apex court into a court for all the citizens for India, as a result of which any Indian citizen can approach the Supreme Court to seek legal remedies in any case.

    But in recent times Indian judiciary is blamed of Judicial Overreach, encroaching on upon the powers of other organs of the state. It would be healthier for the State if the Judiciary should works in harmony and not in rivalry with the other organs of the State.

    • Umesh Sachin

      please take care of word limit also

      • Deepak Tomar

        upsc has mentioned that quality of answer matters no quantity.

  • Neha Jha

    Judicial Activism refers to the action of court beyond the power of judicial review covering both legislative and executive fields.

    The main roles of the Judicial Activism are:

    1) It a way through which relief is provided to the disadvantaged and aggrieved citizens.

    2) One of the emerging step for Judicial Activism is PIL which covers the marginalized public interest to protect pollution, road
    safety etc. It was not only for the poor but also for some correcting actions like wearing seat belts, banning fire crackers etc.

    3) To bring some of the neglected cases into highlights, like Jessica Lal case and Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

    Though, it has played a role in reforming the society, it has also been blamed of interrupting in the politics as in the recent few cases like 2G
    spectrum case as the court set aside the expert opinion and monitoring the distribution of food grain to the person below poverty line. India is known for its separation of power so, governance could not be replaced by judiciary.

    • Shashank Garg

      Inclusion of topics from news is good. I totally forgot about PIL while writing my answer. Though I didn’t included it but I think including the overreaching role of SC in religious matters can be mentioned in present context. The “doctrine of essential practices” innovated by SC is considered by overstepping of powers by SC. Recently there was an article about it.
      Review my answer too. I couldn’t write the answers yesterday. I’ll try to make up for that today.

      • Neha Jha

        yes, I missed that…Thanks for pointing it out…actually the problem is when I start writing, too many points comes in mind but than the word limit issue…and than I forget the points:-) Struggling to overcome these…

        • Shashank Garg

          I scribble the points that I wish to include in my answer on the margin. It helps me to articulate my answers in a better way.

          • Neha Jha

            Thanks for this idea…I”ll follow this for my upcoming answers.

        • Shashank Garg

          How do you deal with the questions which you don’t know?I don’t find reading content about it and writing answer “just after that” a very good strategy.

          • Neha Jha

            This question comes from Laxmikanth “Basic Structure- Unit-1″ wala chapter. Secondly, it was recently a very popular issue between clashes between the govt. and court. Yes, you are right…reading content and writing immediately improves your answer but costs much later making you lazy. I too have realised this. Slowly, but developing own writing skills is finally gonna save in the exam..because there will be no reference at all.
            When I am not clear in any topic..I google it…try to co-relate with what I know about the topic…leave it for almost 6-7hrs than try to recall the same. And that becomes my answer. Sometimes good and sometimes worst….that’s all.

          • Shashank Garg

            I was asking in general and more specifically about the “airspace” wala question. Yeah that would be a good strategy, but would be a bit difficult for me. Once I leave something I tend to procrastinate. :)

          • Neha Jha

            I left that airspace wala question too. Unable to understand the law behind it. Need some more research, actually after reading that question…Russian fighter plane and Baltic Sea came across my mind..but it had no link with that…so till now have not attempted that q.
            When you will start realising somethings importance, and left with no option..your procrastination will go away.

          • Shashank Garg

            I’ll look into that question tonight.

          • Neha Jha

            Okay, I too will write that after my research. Till then pending.

  • Shashank Garg

    Judicial Activism refers to the use of judicial power to enforce what is beneficial for the society. It implies going beyond the power and constraint specified in the constitution. Judicial activism is against the philosophy of Separation of Powers which entrusts specific powers and functions of administration to specific organs. It also negates the generally agreed upon concept of Judicial restraint whereby judiciary is not supposed to transgress into the powers of Executive and Legislature.

    The innovation of judiciary in form of Doctrine of Basic Structure limits the powers of legislature when it exercises its constituent powers. Courts have also protected the misuse of Article 356 by central government. The Supreme Court also bought the 9th schedule under the purview of judicial review. The Indian polity is based on the balance of powers between different arms of administration and checks and balances over each other. Disturbing of this balance by any organ is not beneficial in long term.