Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Thin-Skinned Court

Via The Tribune, Miffed, CJI asks govt to shut down courts.

Facing attack from political quarters on its decisions in various controversial issues, including the judgment in the private and minority professional institution case, the Supreme Court today lambasted the government for adopting such an 'attitude' and said if it did not want to give due respect to the courts it could wind them up.

First, emotional outbursts by judges hardly inspire confidence.

Second, much of this stems from the Supreme Court's frequent practice of, in effect, legislating from the bench rather than merely interpreting the constitution. It may be that our legislatures are inept and inefficient but at least they are directly accountable to the people -- who they must face every election. The (presumed) noble intent of the court is no substitute for such accountability.

This outburst by CJI relates to a reservation case. We have very mixed feelings about reservations ourselves and might possibly support the court on the substance of its ruling. But, for the court to get upset over the consequent political process makes little sense. Indeed, this practice is quite dangerous.

The US Supreme Court has come under withering criticism following its 2000 judgment which led to now-President Bush's election over then-Vice President Gore. The court has not lashed out at its critics -- if it had, it would have gotten embroiled in the rough and tumble of daily politics, leading to a decline in its credibility.

Courts do not have armies -- all they have is credibility which is easily lost if judges get emotional about criticism.


doubtinggaurav said...


I agree with what you say.
(Even though it would mean,in this case, to be on the same side as communists :-( )

Primary Red said...

Hmmm. Had not thought of that!!

Rajagopal said...

I have commented on judicial activism on your blog previously. I am against it too, but in this case the outburst may not have been completely wrong. In its judgement, the court had apparently said that according to laws as they stand, reservations in private, unaided colleges is unconstitutional. If the govt. wants to impose rservation, they have to enact new laws.

But the eminent parlimentarians didn't read the judgement properly and went on and on about the SC being against reservation and that it was encroaching on parliament's turf. They wanted to eact new laws and amend the constitution. But that is precisely what the court said. The courts said if you want reservations, enact a new law or amend the consititution.


Blog Archive