You read that one of the main functions of the judiciary is ‘upholding the law and enforcing Fundamental Rights’. Why do you think an independent judiciary is necessary to carry out this important function?
Judiciary is an important organ of the government. Its main function is to apply the existing laws to the individual cases and to administer justice. Protection of the fundamental rights of the people is not possible without the courts of law. But the Judiciary in a democratic and civilized state must be independent. Independence of Judiciary means that it should be efficient, honest and impartial in giving its judgement. It should be free from any outside control of the executive or the legislature. The Judge should be free to decide cases according to law in a bold and fearless manner. Individual rights can be safeguarded when judges are neither under the control of legislature nor under the control of the executive. The life and liberty of each individual will not be safe, where judiciary is subordinated to the executive. In the absence of independent judiciary, individual liberty is in danger. Moreover, the only way to fight against executive high-handedness and interference is through an independent judiciary. Indian Constitution has provided independence to Judiciary. The Courts are not under the government and do not act on their behalf.
Re-read the list of Fundamental Rights provided in Chapter 1. How do you think the Right to Constitutional Remedies connects to the idea of judicial review?
Indian Constitution provides six Fundamental Rights to the citizens. Right to Constitutional Remedies makes the Supreme Court the ultimate guardian of the fundamental rights and liberties of the people. Rights of the people have no meaning if they are not backed and upheld by the Judiciary. It is both the jurisdiction as well as the responsibility of the Supreme Court to issue orders, directions and Writs of Habeas Corpus, etc., for the enforcement of fundamental rights. In fact, Right to Constitutional Remedies connects to the idea of Judicial Review. The Supreme Court can declare any law null and void if that law violates the Fundamental Rights. For example, in Golak Nath’s case, 1967, the Supreme Court declared that the Parliament has no power to amend the Constitution. The Supreme Court also struck down Section 4 of the 42nd Amendment Act because Section 4 gave Primacy to Directive Principles of State Policy over Fundamental Rights.
In the following illustration, fill in each tier with the judgements given by the various courts in the Sudha Goel case. Check your responses with others in class.
Supreme Court: The Supreme Court found Laxman and his mother guilty, but acquitted the brotherin-
law Subash due to lack of evidence. Laxman and his mother were sent to jail for life. High Court: In November 1983, three accused went to the High Court to appeal against the
judgement of trial court. The High Court decided that Sudha had died due to an accidental fire caused
by the Kerosene stove. Hence, the High Court acquitted Laxman, Shakuntala and Subash Chandra.
Trial or Lower Court: On the basis of evidence, the Trial Court convicted Laxman and his mother Shakuntla and his brother-in-law Subash Chandra and sentenced all three of them to death.
The accused took the case to the High Court because they were unhappy with the decision of the Trial Court.
They went to the High Court after the Supreme Court had given its decision.
False. They went to the Supreme Court after the High Court had given its decision.
If they do not like the Supreme Court verdict, the accused can go back again to the Trial Court.
False. If they do not like the Supreme Court verdict, the accused can make petition to the President.
Why do you think the introduction of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the 1980s is a significant step in ensuring access to justice for all?
In simple words, the term ‘Public Interest Litigation’ means that the person and association other than the sufferer have the right to seek justice on their behalf. Now, this concept that a person can seek justice only for himself has undergone a huge change. The poor and oppressed people of India don’t possess means to seek judicial relief. It is only a public minded citizen or politically aware organisation that can move to the Supreme Court. In fact, the introduction of Public Interest Litigation is a significant step in ensuring access to justice for all. Through Public Interest Litigation cases, the Supreme Court has emerged as the defender and champion of the rights and liberties of the poor masses.
Re-read excerpts from the judgement on the Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation case.
Now, write in your own words what the judges meant when they said that the Right to Livelihood was part of the Right to Life.
The Judgement of the Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation established the Rights to Livelihood
as part of the Right to Life. Right to Life is provided under Article 21 of the Constitution, Article
21 states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the
procedure established by law. But this is one aspect of the Right to Life. But another aspect of
Right to Life is right to livelihood because no person can survive without the means of livelihood.
Thus, right to livelihood is a part of Right to life. That is the conclusion that drawn from the judgement in the Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation Case. The judgement in this case had tried to protect the livelihood of slum dwellers.
Write a story around the theme, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’.
Justice is the very foundation of the state. Without the judicial system, there can be no state worth
the name. The judiciary is rightly called “the shield of innocence” and “the guardian of civil rights”.
But for a good judiciary it is essential that justice should be impartial, speedy and cheap. But in India justice is not speedy. The position is the worst in civil cases. Unnecessary litigation, needless appeals, dilatory procedures, etc., have actually denied justice to people. Justice delayed is justice denied. If justice is delayed and is not really done to the people, then the life and property of the people cannot be safe. In India, it is very difficult to get a house vacated from the tenant. Generally, civil cases are decided in 15 to 30 years. The need is that justice should be quick and speedy.
Make sentences with each of the words given below:
(ii) To Appeal
(i) Acquit: In Sudha murder case, the High court acquitted Laxman, Shakuntla and Subash Chandra.
(ii) To Appeal: In Sudha murder case, the three accused went to the High Court to appeal against the judgement of Trial Court.
(iii) Compensation: Compensation is given to a person whose property is acquired for public purposes.
(iv) Eviction: The eviction of a person from a pavement or slum will inevitably lead to the deprivation of the means of livelihood.
(v) Violation: In India, a citizen can be punished only for the violation of law.
The following is a poster made by the Right to Food campaign. Read this poster and list the duties of the government to uphold the Right to Food.
Every person has a right to life. But for survival, food is very essential.
Without food, (Roti) a person will die of hunger. The right to life includes right to food or right to livelihood. The government should perform the following duties to uphold the Right to Food:
(i) The government should provide employment to the unemployed.
(ii) The government should give allowance to unemployed people.
(iii) The government should provide cheap or free food to the poor.
Do you think that any ordinary citizen stands a chance against a politician in this kind of judicial system? Why not?
It is very difficult for an ordinary citizen to stand against a politician where the politician has the power to appoint and dismiss a Judge. Because under such conditions, Judge cannot act independently.
List two reasons why you believe an independent judiciary is essential to democracy.
The independence of Judiciary is essential to democracy as:
(i) The freedom of the judiciary ensures that it is not under the control of the executive or the legislature.
(ii) It should be efficient and honest and the Judges should be free to decide cases according to law in a bold and fearless manner.
Write two sentences of what you understand about the appellate system from the given case.
If a person believes that the judgement given by the lower court is not just, then that person has a right to make an appeal to a higher court. For example, appeal can be made to the High Court against the judgement of a Session Judge.