The basic structure doctrine transformed the role of Supreme Court from interpretative" to "proactive", thus ensuring that India has a thriving democracy". Critically analyze.
In a democratic set-up, Judiciary has a significant position. It performs the role of being an interpreter, protector, guardian of the supremacy of the constitution.
As an interpreter, the judiciary has been able to safeguard the basic fundamental rights of individuals and have been able to maintain the dignity.
However, the role of judiciary has undergone sea change from being simply an interpreter to playing a proactive role in the form of judicial activism. This is due to the basic structure doctrine which pronounces the importance of judiciary.
The constitution empowers the legislative bodies in the country to make laws in their respective jurisdictions. However, this power is not absolute but is subject to judicial review. Power of judicial review makes Supreme Court guardian of not only fundamental rights but the constitution itself. However, at the time of enactment of the constitution, the Supreme Court derived its power to review the acts via article 13, article 226 and article 245 mainly. Article 13 declares that any law which contravenes any of the provisions of part –III shall be null and void. Articles 32 and 226 entrust Supreme Court and High Courts with roles of the protector and guarantor of fundamental rights Article 245 states that the powers of both Parliament and State legislatures are subject to the provisions of the constitution.
Until the 1970s, the Judiciary had an interpretative role. However, with the basic structure doctrine introduced through Keshavananda Bharthi case, the role has become double edged of the judiciary- interpretive and proactive.
In actual terms, Supreme Court is the guardian and final interpreter of the constitution has. However, there is lack of efficiency at executives level which has forced the judiciary to undertake a proactive role.
To bring out the proactive role of judiciary, firstly it can be observed in the wider interpretation of Life to liberty given by the judiciary in the Maneka Gandhi case.
Further, Proactive role by the judiciary has been exercised in 2G spectrum, coal gate etc. this proactive approach of the court is looked upon as an encroachment in the legislative and executive organs, but it has definitely led to positive outcomes and has been able to live up to the features of basic structure doctrine.
Lastly, through the landmark judgments such as disqualifying convicted legislature from contesting elections or including NOTA option wherein the people are given the choice to reject a candidate, the candidate has strengthened the democracy and lived up to the tenets of basic structure doctrine and revived people’s confidence.
Topics: GS-II: Basic Structure Doctrine