What does the above title mean to you? What does the word torchbearer bring in your mind? Perhaps a supreme figure guiding the country?
68 years ago we established one such forum and invested our all faith into it. The highest judicial forum came to be known as The Supreme Court. It manifests in the form of the deliverer of justice. The ultimate platform for redressal.
Over the years it has consistently succeeded in its role. Judgement of cases like Jessica Lal, Nirbhaya , Vishakha v State of Rajasthan which fiercely blasted the acts extending from sexual harassment at workplace to heinous acts of murder and rape have restored our faith in the judiciary repeatedly. More cases like M.C Mehta v U.O.I aiming towards a better and pollution free environment further spreads the reach of supreme court and its protection towards people in general.
Little steps from restoring Hadiya’s marriage , to launching the option of NOTA in elections, taking away the tedious work of aadhar card everywhere while holding its validity (I know it was a headache) and triple talaq have placed India in it for the long haul.
Supreme court has been a champion and has come forward with flying colours in matters pertaining to application of mind and discretion apart from the law of the land. It has maintained a balance in providing justice and preserving the authority of law. Judicial activism is the role taken up by the judiciary to administer social justice. In various important cases where money and muscle power tried to win over the good, this significant role played correctly by the supreme court has, helped in reaching a decision.
Judicial activism is a way through which justice is provided to aggrieved citizens. Failure of the legislative and executive wings in their respective roles has made judicial activism imperative.
In times like these there is always a doubt if the government has been plagued by ineffectiveness. If the bureaucracy is working vicariously towards achieving its motives. Here the mighty role of supreme court in applying their minds and keeping right and wrong over law to accomplish their net goal i-e Justice comes into play. Discretion has been an operating word while understanding the meaning of Judicial Activism.
However everything needs to be in moderation right?
There is a thin line between Judicial activism and a concept we call as an overreach. Both these words and their interpretation rely on the perception of the individuals. Judicial activism can easily become judicial escapade. Some examples of judicial overreach lie in judgement relating to ban on sale of liquor at retail outlets including hotels, restaurants and bars that are withing 500 mts of any state or national highway. It may have been done with the view of road safety but cost a lot of people a lot of jobs.
The ruling of BCCI or the cancellation of telecom licenses in 2g are to name a few judgement which may be inscribed as judicial overreach as consequences in the long run were ignored. The infliction of mandatory patriotism in the ruling of national anthem case has further reflected how judiciary has chosen to disregard its previous decisions like upahar tragedy and prevention of insults to national honour act, 1971 along with the basic rights of citizens and at some point sympathy towards their inability and at times the emergency someone may be facing. Not to forget how the court stepped into the shoes of the censor board in the case of Jolly LLB 2 movie and the controversy surrounding it.
All the proactive steps taken by judiciary to help deliver justice needs to be appreciated and applauded. However arbitrary and unreasonable interventions may be criticised. In simple words a force field (lakshman rekha) is indispensable and it has to be drawn by judiciary itself.
Now coming to most recent judgements, the most powerful landmark jugdements which have made India rejoice and restore its faith in justice. (And I am Lucky and Happy to have witnessed them in my life)
1. Declaring Right to privacy as. Fundamental right.
2. Recognition of Transgenders as a third gender.
3. Passive Euthansia-right to die with dignity (Huge step).
4. Sabrimala temple case.
5. De-decriminalization of Adultery. Though most people find it amusing and its a great ground for jokes and laughter but if you really read this judgement and try and think about it with an open mind, this is a big substantiation of free will of women and her choice and not just a green flag to men all around (pun intended).
And my most favorite
5. Partial Decriminalization of 377.
Denial of self expression is like death and it has been correctly identified. It was time to bid adieu to prejudice and social mindset which constrains the human instinct to love. No one has to live in fear in the new India.
“Der aaye durust aaye”
With such bold decisions made with heart and mind both along with law, we are surely on the right track.We just gotta follow the flame.
India is safe.
We are safe.