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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 15 New Delhi March 28, 2020

Subversion of the Judiciary in Recent Times

Saturday 28 March 2020, by Arup Kumar Sen

In summing up the role of the Indian judiciary in post-Emergency years, the eminent scholar of Jurisprudence, S. P. Sathe observed: “Post-emergency judicial activism was probably inspired by the Court’s realization that its elitist social image would not make it strong enough to withstand the future onslaught of a powerful political establishment. Therefore, consciously or unconsciously, the Court began moving in the direction of the people…it facilitated access to the courts by relaxing its technical rules of locus standi, entertaining letter petitions or acting suo moto, and developing pro-active public law technology for the enforcement of human rights”. (S. P. Sathe, Judicial Activism: The Indian Experience, Washington University Journal of Law &Policy, 2001)
Very recently, while commenting on a number of vital issues, including those of appointment and transfer of judges and recent stance of the Supreme Court on violation of human rights in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, Madan B. Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, observed:

These and similar instances have led to the feeling among many that over the last couple of years, the court has been ‘executivised’…And now suddenly comes the news that a recently retired CJI has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the president on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. How does the acceptance of the nomination impact on the independence of the judiciary? What is the message sent out, keeping in mind the events of the last couple years?...By accepting an offer not commensurate with the dignity of the office held a few months earlier, the former CJI has led many to believe that he has been rewarded by the government, the biggest litigant, for doing their bidding when it mattered. This may or may not be true, but that is the perception. (The Wire, March 23, 2020)

There is no doubt in our mind that the pro-people role which the Indian judiciary tried to establish in post-Emergency years is being subverted by the State and the political establishment in recent times.

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