How far does the Supreme Court of India play a role as the guardian of the Constitution? (10 marks)

How far does the Supreme Court of India play a role as the guardian of the Constitution? (10 marks)

Approach:

  • Introduce with the Supreme Court’s role in our Constitutional scheme
  • Explain its role as the guardian of the Constitution
  • Conclude with the need to avoid judicial activism and respect the separation of powers
Model Answer :

An impartial judiciary is one of the main features of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court (SC), as the highest court of the country, enjoys a pivotal role in Indian Constitution due to the various functions and powers conferred on it under Article 124-147 of the Constitution.

As the guardian of the Constitution:

The SC has been called as the guardian of the Constitution as it ensures that the legislature and the executive works and function as per the provisions of Constitution and not in its derogation. Moreover, it ensures that any amendment of the Constitution does not violate the basic structure.

The role of SC as a guardian of the Constitution can be described as follows:

  • The most fundamental contribution in this regard is the emphasis that in India, it is the Constitution which is supreme. Whenever there was a Parliamentary threat to the Constitution, the SC succeeded in protecting it through various judgements, culminating in the doctrine of Basic Structure as propounded in the Kesavananda Bharti case.
  • By providing a liberal interpretation of the Constitution specially Article 19 and 21, SC has expanded the scope of FRs and concept of the due process of law in Part-III of the Constitution.
  • The SC primarily through the power of Judicial review, examines the acts/conduct of legislature and executive, thereby ensures that they are not in violation of the Constitution.
  • SC has also expanded the scope of Judicial review crucially to Article 352 and 356, to protect the democratic spirit.

However, the Supreme Court has also been criticized for judicial activism and overreaching into the domains of the legislature and the executive. Hence, while playing its important role as the guardian of the Constitution, the SC should also respect the doctrine of separation of powers.

Subjects : Polity