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17th December 2022 (6 Topics)

Supreme Court exists to protect personal liberty and rights: CJI


The Chief Justice of India has recently mentioned that the primary role of the Supreme Court is to protect the fundamental rights and personal liberty of every Citizen of India.


The Supreme Court’s roles and Functions:

  • The Supreme Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution and, by its creative and innovative interpretation, has been the protector of our constitutional rights and fundamental freedom.
  • It takes up appeals against the verdicts of the High Courts, other courts and tribunals.
  • It settles disputes between various government authorities, between state governments, and between the centre and any state government.
  • It also hears matters which the President refers to it, in its advisory role.
  • The SC can also take up cases suo moto (on its own).
  • The law SC declares is binding on all the courts in India, the Union, and the state governments.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The Indian constitution provides for a provision of the Supreme Court under Part V (The Union) and Chapter 6 (The Union Judiciary).
  • Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the organisation, independence, jurisdiction, powers and procedures of the Supreme Court.
  • The Indian constitution under Article 124(1) states that there shall be a Supreme Court of India constituting of a Chief Justice of India (CJI) and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven other Judges.
  • The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India can broadly be categorised into original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction and advisory jurisdiction. However, there are other multiple powers of the Supreme Court.

Landmark Cases ensuring personal liberty and Fundamental Rights:

  • Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950): Procedure Established by Law.

Relevance: In the case, the Supreme Court interpreted the Fundamental Rights under Part III of the Indian Constitution A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950).

  • In this case, it held that the protection under Article 21 is available only against arbitrary executive action and not from arbitrary legislative action.
  • This means that the State can deprive the right to life and personal liberty person based on a law.
  • Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): Procedure Established by Law: Fair, Just and Reasonable.

Relevance: Expanding the meaning of the ‘right to life under the Constitution of India

  • In a subsequent decision, the Supreme Court stated that Article 21 would read as: ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to fair, just and reasonable procedure established by valid law.
  • Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015): Section 66A of the IT Act

Relevance: In a landmark ruling, India’s Supreme court nullified Section 66A, terming it vague and unconstitutional. This judgement is significant as it safeguards the fundamental right of freedom of speech.

  • Shankari Prasad v. Union of India (1951)

Relevance: This case dealt with the deference of Fundamental Rights (the First Amendment’s validity was challenged).

  • Golaknath v. State of Punjab (1967):

Relevance: In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Parliament cannot take away or abridge any of the Fundamental Rights.

  • Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973):
  • It was unique for the reason that it brought a shift in the balance of democratic power. Earlier judgements had taken a stand that Parliament could amend even the fundamental rights through a proper legislative process.
  • But the present case held that Parliament cannot amend or alter the fundamental structure ‘Basic Structure’ of the constitution.
  • Besides, Kesavananda Case was significant in that the Supreme Court ascribed to itself the function of preserving the integrity of the Indian Constitution.
  • The ‘basic structure’ doctrine formulated by the court represented the pinnacle of judicial creativity and set a benchmark for other constitutional courts worldwide.

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