Pranab Mukherjee cautions judges against perils of ‘judicial activism’

President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday cautioned judges against the perils of “judicial activism”, saying the equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times and self-restraint should be used when confronted with such a situation.

Maintaining that the Constitution is supreme, Mukherjee said “each organ of our democracy must function within its own sphere and must not take over what is assigned to the others”.

“Judicial activism should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers, which is a constitutional scheme. The balance of power between the three organs of the state is enshrined in our Constitution,” he said, stressing that “the Constitution is supreme”.

The President said that the equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times and noted that the exercise of powers by the legislature and executive is subject to judicial review.

“However, the only check possible in the exercise of powers by the judiciary is self-imposed discipline and self- restraint by the judiciary itself,” he said while inaugurating the fourth retreat of the judges of the Supreme Court at the National Judicial Academy here.

Mukherjee, however, maintained that the independence and integrity of the judiciary is “of the highest importance, not only to the judges but also to people at large who seek judicial redress against perceived legal injury or executive excess”.

“The Constitution invests our independent judiciary, especially the apex court, with extensive jurisdiction over the acts of the legislature and the executive.

“Judicial review is part of the basic structure and cannot be altered even by taking the procedure provided in law. It is the judiciary which ensures the effectiveness of judicial review,” he said.

He also lauded the judiciary for “enlarging the scope of justice” in a developing country like India.

“For the enforcement of our developing country, our judiciary has enlarged the scope of justice. For the enforcement of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court, through judicial innovation and activism, has expanded the common law principle of ‘locus standi’,” he said.

The President further noted that “it has been made possible for courts to permit anyone with sufficient interest and acting bona fide to maintain an action for judicial redress and to activate the judicial process”.

“In the support of rights, courts have found a postcard written by a citizen or newspaper article to be material enough to set off judicial action. This has helped to bring justice closer to the common man,” he said.


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