Judicial Activism in India with regard to upholding Human Rights.
Judicial activism refers to the proactive approach taken by the judiciary in interpreting and applying the law, often involving intervention in matters that were previously deemed to be the exclusive domain of the executive or legislature. In India, the judiciary has been particularly active in upholding human rights, using its powers to strike down laws that violate these rights, and ensuring that citizens have access to justice.
India’s Constitution, adopted in 1950, enshrines a number of fundamental rights, including the right to equality, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, and the right to life and liberty. The Constitution also provides for the establishment of an independent judiciary, with the power to interpret and enforce these rights.
Over the years, the Indian judiciary has played a significant role in upholding these rights, particularly in cases where the executive or legislature has failed to do so. For example, in the landmark case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala in 1973, the Supreme Court of India established the doctrine of basic structure, which holds that certain fundamental features of the Constitution cannot be amended by the legislature, even with a two-thirds majority. This ruling ensured that the Constitution’s fundamental rights, including the right to life and liberty, could not be altered or diluted by the government.
In addition to its role in interpreting the Constitution, the Indian judiciary has also played an important role in promoting social justice and protecting marginalized communities. For example, in 1993, the Supreme Court directed all state governments to provide free legal aid to the poor and marginalized, ensuring that they have access to justice. In another case, the court mandated that all schools must provide free education to children from economically weaker sections, thus ensuring that all children have the opportunity to receive an education.
Furthermore, the judiciary has been active in promoting gender equality and protecting the rights of women. In the landmark Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan case in 1997, the Supreme Court established guidelines for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. These guidelines, known as the Vishaka Guidelines, were later incorporated into legislation, ensuring that women have legal protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
However, critics of judicial activism argue that it can lead to the judiciary overstepping its bounds and infringing on the powers of the executive and legislature. Some also argue that judicial activism can be used to further the personal beliefs and biases of judges, rather than promoting the rule of law.
In conclusion, judicial activism in India has played an important role in upholding human rights, particularly in cases where the executive or legislature has failed to do so. By interpreting the Constitution and ensuring that all citizens have access to justice, the judiciary has helped to promote social justice and protect marginalized communities. However, it is important to ensure that judicial activism does not lead to an imbalance of power, and that the judiciary remains accountable to the people.