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PSIR 1B-4.3 Judiciary – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Do you agree that over the years the Supreme Court has become a forum for policy evolution? Justify your answer. [2023/15m/200w/8c]

In an ideal system, the judicial organ of the government is primarily tasked with dispute resolution among various entities in the state. However, in the case of India, the Supreme Court of India has also evolved into a significant forum for policy development and evolution. This transformation has occurred through the court’s expansive interpretation of the Indian Constitution, its role in addressing complex socio-political issues, and its proactive stance on various policy matters.

The Supreme Court has played a pivotal role in expanding the scope of PIL, allowing individuals and organizations to petition the court on behalf of the marginalized and disadvantaged. Through PILs, the court has addressed a wide range of policy issues, including environmental protection, child rights, and corruption, thereby influencing government policies.

The Indian Supreme Court has often interpreted fundamental rights broadly to include various aspects of socio-economic well-being, such as the right to education, right to privacy, and right to live with dignity. This expansion has led to judicial engagement in policy matters.

The court has often relied on the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) to guide its decisions and influence policy directions. These principles, though not legally enforceable, provide a roadmap for the government’s social and economic policies.

Several landmark judgments have had far-reaching policy implications. For example, the Vishakha judgment on sexual harassment at the workplace led to the formulation of guidelines, which eventually culminated in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act in 2013.

While the Supreme Court’s role in policy evolution is significant, it is not without controversy. Critics argue that such judicial activism may sometimes encroach on the domain of the elected branches of government. Nevertheless, the court’s contributions to policy development and social change have been an important aspect of its role in the Indian democratic system. [303 words]

2] Examine the evolution of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India as a Constitutional Court. [2021/15m/200w/8b]

The Supreme Court of India, established under the Constitution of India, has evolved over time to become a Constitutional Court with extensive jurisdiction.

At its inception, the Supreme Court had limited original jurisdiction, primarily dealing with disputes between the Union government and individual states or between states themselves. This original jurisdiction is enshrined in Article 131 of the Indian Constitution.

The Supreme Court gradually acquired significant appellate jurisdiction over the years. Initially, it could hear appeals only on constitutional matters from the High Courts. However, subsequent amendments expanded its appellate jurisdiction to include civil, criminal, and other non-constitutional matters. Today, the Supreme Court serves as the final court of appeal in the country, hearing appeals from the High Courts, tribunals, and other judicial bodies.

The Supreme Court’s jurisdiction as a Constitutional Court grew with the expansion of its writ jurisdiction. Under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution, the Court has the power to issue writs for the enforcement of fundamental rights.

The Keshavanand Bharati case gave birth to the basic structure doctrine which checked the power of parliament for constitutional amendments. While the basic structure of the constitution is inviolable, what constitutes the basic structure remains for the judiciary to determine.

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court of India played a pivotal role in introducing the concept of Public Interest Litigation. This innovation significantly expanded the Court’s jurisdiction, enabling it to address issues related to social justice, environment, human rights, and administrative matters. Over the years, the Supreme Court of India has displayed a proactive approach to constitutional interpretation, often engaging in judicial activism.

The Supreme Court also exercises judicial review that strengthens its role as a Constitutional Court, ensuring the supremacy of the Constitution in the Indian legal system.

From its initial limited original jurisdiction, it has expanded to become a Constitutional Court with extensive powers This evolution has strengthened the Court’s role in protecting fundamental rights, upholding the Constitution, and serving as the final interpreter of the law in India. [333 words]

3] Discuss judicial overreach in India. [2020/10m/150w/5d]

Judicial overreach is a term used to describe situations where the judiciary, particularly the higher courts, exceeds its prescribed constitutional limits and interferes with the domain of the executive and legislative branches of government.

The term is related to Judicial activism which refers to an active and creative interpretation of the Constitution by the courts to protect fundamental rights, fill legislative gaps, and ensure justice. However, there is a fine line between activism and overreach. Critics argue that in some cases, the judiciary has crossed this line, encroaching on the authority of other branches of government.

One area where concerns of judicial overreach have been raised is in matters of legislation and policy-making. The courts have at times been criticized for delving into the domain of the legislature by issuing orders or guidelines on policy matters that are seen as the prerogative of the executive or legislative branches. It is argued that such interference can undermine the separation of powers and democratic decision-making. Judicial overreach may also be attributed to instances where the judiciary is seen as engaging in “judicial legislation.” This occurs when the courts create new laws or modify existing ones beyond their power of interpretation, effectively usurping the role of the legislature.

Some critics also contend that judicial overreach occurs because the judiciary faces limited accountability compared to the executive and legislative branches.

Over the years, the Supreme Court of India itself has recognized the need to strike a balance and address concerns of judicial overreach. The doctrine of “judicial deference” has been emphasized, which acknowledges the primary role of the elected branches of government in policy-making. [270 words]

4] Whether judicial activism has undermined or strengthened parliamentary democracy in India? Discuss. [2018/20m/250w/6a]

The impact of judicial activism on parliamentary democracy in India is a complex and debated topic. Different perspectives exist on whether judicial activism has undermined or strengthened parliamentary democracy.

Judicial activism has played a crucial role in protecting and expanding fundamental rights in India. The judiciary has interpreted the Constitution expansively to safeguard individual liberties, ensure social justice, and uphold the principles of equality.

Judicial activism has filled legislative gaps by interpreting constitutional provisions and extending their applicability. The courts have stepped in when the legislature has failed to address critical issues or when laws are seen as inadequate. This proactive approach has helped bridge gaps in legislation and ensure justice for marginalized sections of society.

The courts have struck down laws that are unconstitutional, ensuring that the principles enshrined in the Constitution are upheld. This has prevented any erosion of democratic ideals and maintained the supremacy of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, critics argue that judicial activism sometimes exceeds its boundaries by intruding into the domain of the legislature. The courts, in their quest to protect fundamental rights and fill legislative gaps, may encroach upon the policy-making and lawmaking functions of the elected representatives. This undermines the principle of separation of powers and the supremacy of the elected legislature in a democratic system.

Excessive judicial oversight can hinder executive decision-making and prevent the effective functioning of the government. This can lead to a concentration of power in the hands of the judiciary, bypassing the checks and balances inherent in a parliamentary democracy.

Moreover, it is argued that unelected judges should not have the power to make policy decisions or interfere with executive actions, as they lack the democratic mandate that elected representatives possess. Moreover, an expanding role of the judiciary can contribute to delays in the justice delivery system.

Hence, striking a balance between the judiciary’s role in safeguarding rights and maintaining the democratic functioning of the elected branches is a challenge that requires careful consideration and ongoing dialogue. [328 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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