It is often argued that the disturbing trends in judicial activism have become a challenge for executive to run ministries, government departments, investigation agencies and the police. Analyze the problem while suggesting measures that can be adopted to reduce tussle between government and judiciary in the country.

The constitution had envisaged the mechanism of separation of powers to ensure the fine balance in governance. The judicial activism impinges on the separation of powers in governance.
Judiciary has often issues various decrees and orders to address the various issues haunting the common citizens of the country. But at instances the judicial activism has resulted in complexities on part of ministries, government departments, investigation agencies and the police. Examples of such situation are:
Banning of liquor along Highways
In order to address the increasing menace of drunk and drive, the SC ordered banning of sale of liquor along the highways. This led to complexities on part of implementing agencies and policy makers.
Many states had still left with the licensed period and the sudden order by the Supreme Court brought in lot of confusions. Many bar owners adopted a new approach of having diagonal pathways to show that the liquor stores were at a distance which was more than the distance specified in the order.
The order also raised the livelihood concerns for thousands of people who were dependent on the liquor business for their livelihood. All these led to situation of confusion with lack of clarity. This led to SC to change the specifications of the order to address the various challenges arising out of the order.
Lodha panel to review working of the MCI
Using its powers under article 142 of constitution the SC set up Lodha panel to review working of the Medical council of India, a premier body relate to maintain medical education quality and standards.
The working of the Lodha panel created more confusion and finally petitions were filed in the SC for its removal. The government suggested a new panel under the eminent medicine experts to replace the Lodha panel for addressing the crisis.
Even though there are minor hiccups the interventions of judiciary had greatly aided in addressing of various issues and challenges. A mechanism must be developed to ensure that these minor hiccups are avoided through:

  • Article 142 must be a weapon of last resort. Measures must be taken to ensure that there is not frequent invoking of article 142.
  • A timeframe must be fixed for executive to act before taking route of article 142
  • Government must be asked to bring a white paper to bring out the various nuances arising out of the implementation of the order of the Supreme Court.

There is a thin line between judicial activism and judicial overreach. Crossing over will result in instability of governance. Judiciary must be cautious while taking route of article 142 so that the supremacy of constitution and separation of powers are not compromised.

Question for UPSC Mains:
It is often argued that the disturbing trends in judicial activism have become a challenge for executive to run ministries, government departments, investigation agencies and the police.  Analyze the problem while suggesting measures that can be adopted to reduce tussle between government and judiciary in the country. (250 words, 15 Marks)

Published: April 11, 2018 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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