In defence of judicial review

I have been following The Tribune debate on the theme “Judges vs Judges” during the past few weeks. The controversy over judicial activism is uncalled for. The current phase may be termed as the era of judicial activism and social justice in the premise of equality. The actions of the legislature and the executive should be open to reasoning and review by the judiciary which is independent. The judiciary should exercise its powers without fear and favour.

As for the main issue of public interest litigation (PIL), it is a concept of recent origin evolved by the Supreme Court on the plinth of equal justice. The court devised the new tool for mitigating the sufferings of the poor. It reasoned that the law should not be allowed to be circumvented by vested interests for maintaining the status quo under the guise of the enforcement of civil and judicial rights.

The apex court ruled that PIL is a strategic arm of legal aid movement, intended to bring justice to the poor masses. Public interest demands that the violation of the Constitution and legal rights of the poor people do not go unnoticed and unredressed.


Of course, judges are not omniscient and not infallible, but they don’t take it lightly if their verdicts are challenged through appeals. The verdict of every court can be reviewed by a superior court and even the Supreme Court’s rulings can be challenged before a larger bench and then a full bench whose verdict will be final.

The judiciary does not cherish the idea of emasculating the legislature or the executive. It is concerned about constitutional rectitude and performs the role of a watchdog of the Constitution. Every conscientious person lauds the courts for their boldness, independence and fearlessness. Thus, the present controversy is egregious.

G.D. GUPTA, Advocate Yamunanagar


I endorse Fali S. Nariman’s comment in his article (December 17) that “we don’t need judges who behave like emperors”. This brings to the fore the question of selection of judges. We need to have a fresh look at the selection criteria for judges. We must elevate to the bench those who possess the right qualities, as Mr Nariman aptly points out.

I fully support PIL and it should not be abolished. The Union Law Minister should frame comprehensive guidelines for ensuring that PILS are not misused. The lawyers should not entertain such petitions which are motivated.

Lt-Col ONKAR CHOPRA (retd), New Delhi


Of late, in the name of judicial activism, what we see is judicial arrogance in many instances. Many judges have tended to act like policymakers, conveniently ignoring the fact that they do not have the people’s mandate for doing so. Since the Second Judges case, the judiciary has itself started selecting the fellow judges for appointments. Such a practice is not to be found in any of the developed or developing countries.

It is time a National Judicial Commission (NJC) was constituted with the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Union Home and Law Ministers as members. The NJC should be entrusted with the task of selection, transfer and censure of judges.



There is nothing wrong with the continuance of PIL. It is an instrument in the hands of those, especially the poor, who want to check the arbitrary actions of the authorities and seek justice. There is nothing wrong with PILs as long as they are truly in public interest.

Why find fault with the judiciary’s directives on such issues as environment, pollution, green zones, encroachments, school timings and CNG? The common man wants the courts to intervene for dispensation of justice. Otherwise, neither the legislature nor the executive will bother about the interests of the common people.

SHER SINGH, Ludhiana

Of grace and dignity

PH. Vaishnav’s middle, “A mystery unravelled” (Jan 28), makes a delightful reading. As a young IAS officer, he was nominated for the Defence Staff Course in 1959 - an early feather in his cap. Sardar Partap Singh Kairon’s remark that one day Vaishnav would bring a name to the state proved prophetic.

In the wake of the Chinese aggression of 1962, when the landlocked and inaccessible Lahual and Spiti district was carved out of the erstwhile Kangra district, Kairon picked up Vaishnav as the first Deputy Commissioner of that district.

By dint of his hard work, he became the Chairman of the Board of Public Enterprises. Even after his retirement as the Chief Secretary, he has been serving the poor and the needy. In whichever capacity he served, he brought grace and dignity to the chair. The concluding sentence of his middle that, “the controversy whether I brought a name to the state or not died with my retirement from the IAS in 1990” is more an expression of his modesty than diffidence.




HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |