President Mukherjee cautions against ‘judicial activism’

Bhopal, April 16 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday cautioned against “judicial activism”, saying it should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers. He also stressed on a balance between the judiciary, executive and legislature organs of the country.

Mukherjee, speaking at the fourth Retreat of Judges of the Supreme Court at the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal, said that the “Constitution is supreme” and the equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times.

“Judicial activism should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers which is the Constitutional scheme. Each organ of our democracy must function within its own sphere and must not take over what is assigned to the others. The balance of power between the three organs of the state is enshrined in our Constitution. The Constitution is supreme. The equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times,” he said.

He added: “The exercise of powers by the legislature and executive is subject to judicial review. However, the only check possible in the exercise of powers by the judiciary is self-imposed discipline and self-restraint by the judiciary itself.”

The president said the judiciary, one of the three important pillars of our democracy, is the “final interpreter of the Constitution and laws”.

“It helps in maintaining the social order by swiftly and effectively dealing with those on the wrong side of the law. As an upholder of the Rule of Law and enforcer of the right to liberty, the role of the Judiciary is sacrosanct,” Mukherjee said.

He further said that the faith and confidence people have reposed in the Judiciary must always be maintained. “For justice to have meaning to the people, it must be accessible, affordable and quick,” the president said.

The judiciary has enlarged the scope of justice, Mukherjee said, adding that for the enforcement of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court through judicial innovation and activism has expanded the common law principle of ‘locus standi’, a legal premise by which one may pursue a case.

“It has been made possible for courts to permit anyone with sufficient interest and acting bona fide to maintain an action for judicial redress, and to activate the judicial process. This has helped to bring justice closer to the common man. The faith and confidence people have reposed in the judiciary must always be maintained,” President said.

He also stressed on the importance of quick delivery for efficient jurisprudence. “Justice delayed is justice denied. Justice must be accessible, affordable and quick,” said the president.

He expressed concern over pendency of a huge number of cases in courts, and said courts were being overburdened by these.

“There are over three crore cases pending in various courts throughout the country. Out of these about 38.5 lakh cases are pending in 24 high courts. The pendency of cases in the high courts has slightly declined from 41.5 lakh in 2014 to 38.5 lakh in 2015, but we still have a long way to go.”

The president said that since the start of the year, as many as 145 appointments have been made as on April 12, 2016 by the Collegium and complimented the efforts of Chief Justice of India, Justice T.S. Thakur, for speedily filling up the vacancies in the high courts and the Supreme Court.

Mukherjee also congratulated judges for organising the Retreat saying it would provide a forum to discuss contemporary challenges the country is facing.

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