Under Constitution, law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all

Source: The post is based on an article “Under Constitution, law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on allpublished in The Hindu on 13th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: judicial review and related issues

News: The Vice-President of India has recently made a statement regarding the power of the court on judicial review. This article discusses the tussle between the center and the court regarding judicial review.

What are the statements made by the Vice-President of India?

He is not happy with the Kesavananda Bharati judgment of 1973 which gave the idea of the Basic Structure, upheld judicial review and limited the Parliament’s power under Article 368 to amend the Constitution.

He has also criticized the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) judgment through which the SC struck down the law and upheld the collegium system.

What is the stand of the court on the criticism?

Article 141 of the Constitution mandates that a law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all courts, even the Supreme Court. Therefore, the court is bound to comply with the NJAC verdict and the judgment made was within the law.

Further, the Parliament is free to bring a new law on judicial appointments through a constitution amendment but that will also be subject to judicial review.

The SC has also advised the government and constitutional authorities that it is necessary that all follow the law as laid down by the court, else it may have a negative impact on the society and people will follow their will.

Why is judicial review needed?

Kesavananda Bharati verdict had made clear that judicial review is not a means to curb parliamentary sovereignty. 

It is only part of a “system of checks and balances” to ensure constitutional functionaries do not exceed their limits. Judicial review holds an important place in a federal Constitution and it in no way makes the judiciary supreme.

SC in its past judgment has also observed that judicial review is in accordance with the law laid down by the Constitution.

Moreover, the court said that how the Parliament in the past has tried to curb the judicial power of the court through the 42nd Constitution amendment and therefore, there is a need to have checks and balances.

However, regarding Article 368, the SC has said that it is only a procedure for amendment of the Constitution. It could not be treated as a power vested in Parliament to amend the Constitution and alter the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

 

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