Judicial Evasion and Judicial Ambiguity

Judicial Evasion and Judicial Ambiguity
Context:

The article discusses the actions of judicial evasion and judicial ambiguity.
Judicial Evasion: It is the occurrence of delay in adjudication of sensitive cases by courts which leads to undermining of justice delivery system. The court avoids deciding a thorny and time-sensitive question, but its very refusal to decide favours the government because it is the government that benefits from the status quo being maintained.

Examples of judicial evasion
Alok Verma Case:

  • In the ‘Alok Verma Case’, the legal question posed before SC was simple: whether the decision taken by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Central government to divest Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma of his powers and functions was legally valid.
  • The counsel of Alok Verma argued that the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act made it clear that the CBI Director had a guaranteed, two-year tenure, and could not be transferred without the consent of a high-powered committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India.
  • A similar interpretation of the Act was made by the Supreme Court in Vineet Narain Case, that the Director must be protected from political influence.
  • But due to judicial evasion and delay this pure question of law took six hearings and more than two-and-a-half months to resolve by the SC.

Aadhaar Case:

  • The case was finally heard by SC six years after it was filed, effectively allowing the government to seed and connect almost all services with Aadhar, a period which also saw leakage of citizen’s data openly making it irrelevant to limit the applicability of Aadhar.
  • Judicial Ambiguity: When the verdict delivered by courts in sensitive cases and cases warranting interpretation of ‘pure questions of law’, is ambiguous and inconclusive, the condition is of judicial ambiguity.

Examples of judicial ambiguity
Alok Verma Case:

  • In the Alok Verma case, the Supreme Court finally gave the verdict that the CVC and the Central government had acted outside their jurisdiction in divesting Mr. Verma of his powers and fucntions.
  • However, the court also added that the correct authority i.e. the high-powered committee, would have to consider the allegations against him, and decide on the case within a week and until then Mr. Verma was restrained from taking “any major policy decisions”.

Hence the Court, despite holding that Mr. Verma’s divestment was invalid in law, placed restrictions on his powers as the Director, thus presumptively placing him under a cloud of suspicion as what exactly is a “major policy decision”, is not known objectively.

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