What is the difference between the Judiciary envisioned by India’s constitution-makers, and the functioning one in our country today?
The policy makers of the constitutional assembly held the view that the three pillars of our democracy, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary should be independent to ensure accountability. The judiciary would hold the power to interpret the constitution and limit the powers of some branches of government. The citizens of India would have the option to go to the court and present themselves if their rights had been violated.
The harsh reality, however, is that the judiciary is not free from political influence. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President of the Indian State, and governments in power use this to appoint judges who share similar ideologies. Usually the top three senior-most judges are considered for the post, however, there are examples when the Congress government overlooked this practice and appointed A.K Sinha, in 1973.
The very recent landmark judgments regarding Triple Talaq and the Right to Privacy are considered to be an imperative step taken by the judiciary. These judgments created awareness regarding the human rights violations that were taking place, and even initiated a discussion about the decriminalization of homosexuality in India. Although these judgments are important, are they substantial? The legislative body (Lok Sabha) has already indicated that no law will be made against Triple Talaq, or in favour of Right to Privacy. Even if the judiciary does provide a significant judgment in cases like these, it cannot be backed by any legal principle.
The need of the hour is to impose absolute freedom of the judiciary in India. That is the only way to ensure responsibility by the government towards its citizens. This separation of the legislative and the judiciary is necessary since that is what democracy is about. Rights of the citizens cannot be implemented properly until the courts have the liberty to openly criticise the prevailing government without facing consequences.
Feature Image Credits: Hindustan Times