|Judges are not framing laws or deciding politics: Harish Salve|
LEGAL LUMINARIES: K. Parasaran, former Attorney General (left), and Harish N. Salve, senior Advocate, Supreme Court, at the launch of a website in Chennai on Saturday.
CHENNAI: Judicial activism should not be construed as courts overstepping their limits, as the courts are only filling the vacuum created by the executive to enforce accountability, Harish Salve, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, said on Saturday.
Delivering a lecture on “Judicial activism-Are courts overstepping their limits?” organised by the Palkhivala Foundation here, he said judges were not framing the laws or deciding the politics of the country. But, if issues were driven by passion of the moment, such as in the case of the recent Constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court verdict that there be no reservation in promotions, it was necessary to step away from the din of politics. That was called judicial activism by critics, but judges were not overstepping their limits.
The critics were also arguing that “over-intervention” by courts raised expectations among the public to the point that the courts would not be able to deliver. It was a genuine concern, but this only showed that the area of unmanageable governance was getting too large, Mr. Salve said. He said judicial activism had suddenly become popular in India. It started during the period of V.R. Krishna Iyer in the Supreme Court. None then blamed it because there were no political repercussions.
The Supreme Court started expanding the rights under Article 21. Another was to ask the government to enforce laws relating to environment protection. Courts began to issue writs of mandamus to enforce the law. What the courts did was to change the procedures and cut short the delay. Disagreeing with the argument that judges were going too far, Mr. Salve said the courts issued directions only to ensure that the decision-making was transparent and worthy of a constitutional government.
He said no institution was free from blemish; but aberrations were not what defined an institution. It was the power of correcting and evolving that had brought the Supreme Court to this great height.
He said if the courts were overstretched, it was for the government to address the issue.
K. Parasaran, former Attorney-General, who launched the Nani Palkhivala Arbitration Centre website, said that while judicial activism was welcome, it was the function of courts to see what their jurisdiction was.
Arvind Dattar, senior advocate, said the lecture was the 13th to be held in memory of Constitution expert N.A. Palkhivala on current and controversial topics.
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