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  • The judiciary's independence means that the legislature and executive branches of government cannot impede its ability to carry out their respective functions and prevent it from doing justice.
  • Judges ought to be immune from any restrictions, incentives, pressure, influence, or threats—direct or indirect—from the executive branch and legislative.
  •  The three branches of the government are the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.


India is sometimes referred to as a continent rather than a country because of its vastness and diversity. In terms of population, it is the largest nation on Earth. India is home to around one in six people on the planet. India is a country rich in diversity. There are differences in languages, traditions, religions, and race. Therefore, it takes a perfect judicial system to hold together all these factors, effectively and efficiently.

The Indian Supreme Court, High Courts, and lower courts at the district, municipal, and village levels make up the country's judicial system.

Upholding justice and the rule of law, the Indian judiciary is the cornerstone of the nation's legal system. To settle disputes, this court system interprets and administers the law. The judicial branch operates independently of the legislative and executive departments of government, maintaining its impartiality and independence. It is made up of lower courts, high courts, and the supreme court, each of which has distinct functions.

In this article we will delve into the details of judiciary and its nature of independence and impartiality.


In India, a separation of functions rather than of powers is followed. The fundamental tenet of the philosophy of separation of powers is that the roles performed by the various branches of government are independent of one another and do not overlap. The division of responsibilities and powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches is known as the "separation of powers."

These three branches of Indian government—the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary—share authority and responsibility. This idea ensures that power does not amalgamate. This essay aims to examine the theory behind this doctrine in India, as well as its goals, critics, and ways in which it impedes the application of administrative law.

This concept is predicated on the following four ideas: 

  • The Exclusivity Principle, which created three structural organs inside the government. 
  • The functional principle, which delineates the divisions between the organs and states that no organ shall carry out the duties of another. 
  • The principle of Check and Balance posits that these organs ought to exercise mutual oversight to ensure that the tasks and activities carried out are compliant with the constitution. 
  • The Mutuality Principle, which seeks to foster interaction rather than estrangement, harmony rather than disagreement, and cooperation rather than confrontation.

Legislature: The Administrative organ is liable to produce the regulations or the arrangement of rules. The force of the legislature is in the possession of the Parliament. They make the regulations, vote, and pass them to work out. When this course of thought and investigation is done the examined decision goes to the part of the execute for execution.

Executive: The executive body follows the request given by the council and executes the law made by the assembly. The body additionally manages the typical and standard matters of the organization of the separate states. The executive framework authorizes the law to be kept and monitors the same.

Judiciary: The organ of the Legal executive or the Legal framework awards discipline to the ones who abuse the law or conflict with it. The Indian legal system is not complete without the judiciary. It is essential in maintaining justice for its residents and the rule of law. India's judiciary is an impartial, autonomous system. It protects people's fundamental freedoms and rights. It functions according to the guidelines set forth in the Indian Constitution. It is an association and the sole working body.


The Indian judiciary comprises multiple divisions and subdivisions that are incorporated into a pyramidal structure to ensure that even the least significant cases are considered by an Indian court. The judiciary is an autonomous entity that is set apart from the legislative and executive branches by virtue of its independence. Even though India's legal system dates back centuries, the Indian Constitution, which was enacted following India's independence from British rule in 1947, has a significant influence on the country's current judicial system. The Indian Constituent Assembly developed and deliberated upon the Constitution, culminating in its adoption on November 26, 1949, and its implementation on January 26, 1950.

As a division of the Indian administrative structure, the judiciary serves to uphold the law, administer justice, and mediate conflicts arising between the people, the states, and the federal government. A functioning, unbiased, and independent court is necessary for democracy to exist. The Indian constitution contains several clauses that guarantee the judiciary's independence.

The Supreme Court (SC) is the highest court in India's unified, integrated judicial system. The high court come next, and then the district or Subordinate courts. The other types of lower courts function under the high courts. This makes it possible for the court to operate decentralized and deal with problems at the local level. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court have the authority to review and reverse decisions made by subordinate courts.

Here is a brief overview of the key levels of courts in India:

SUPREME COURT: The Chief Justice of India is the head of the Supreme Court, which is established under the Constitution. All courts must abide by Supreme Court rulings, which must be given in public and with the support of most of the justices who heard the case. Smaller or equal-sized Supreme Court benches must likewise follow the rulings of the Supreme Court.

HIGH COURTS: There must be a High Court in every State. High courts have the authority to issue directives, orders, or writs to any individual or body within its jurisdiction. These may include writs of habeas corpus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, and they may be used for the following purposes: safeguarding fundamental rights; or any other purpose. High Courts may also choose to exercise extraordinary original jurisdiction in civil or criminal cases.

DISTRICT COURTS: Indian States and Union territories are divided into districts. In addition to the District Court in each district, there may be Sub-District Courts. Criminal, or sessions, courts and civil courts make up the 126 District and Sub-District Courts. District-level specialized courts, like Family Courts and Commercial Courts, are in operation. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, high courts exercise oversight and control over lower courts.

TRIBUNALS: The recruitment and working conditions of individuals in public services and positions associated with: 

(1) the Union. 

(2) States. 

(3) local or other authorities in India.

(4) local or other authorities under the control of the Union Government; or 

(5) corporations owned or controlled by the Union Government are among the issues and complaints that Parliament may allow administrative tribunals to decide.

LOK ADALATS: Cases that are in pre-litigation status or pending before the court system are settled at Lok Adalats, a type of ADR. Cases that are under the jurisdiction of or pending before courts that the Lok Adalat is organized for, may be settled by them.


The Indian Constitution's framework must be used to assess the judiciary's independence. The aim is to ensure that adjudication is unrestricted by external or governmental entities and that the judiciary's independence is confined to the powers granted to courts or tribunals by the Indian Constitution. The judiciary is given a unique and important responsibility by the Indian Constitution. 

Although it isn't expressly stated in the constitution, the independence of the judiciary is implied in several of the articles of the Indian Constitution. An attitude of independence is one that resists all outside influence or pressure. All such pressure or influence is resisted or rejected by impartial adjudicators. Independence of judiciary means that the legislative and executive branches of government should not impede the judiciary's ability to carry out its duties to prevent it from doing justice. The judiciary's decision should not be influenced by the other branches of government. It must be possible for judges to carry out their duties without fear or favour.

  • The fundamental components of the constitution that guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law are unalienable, even in the event of constitutional revisions, as the Hon'ble Supreme Court declared in S.P. Gupta v. Union of India: AIR 1982 SC 149.


An attitude toward the parties and the dispute's topic matter is known as impartiality. Adjudicators who are impartial, view all sides without bias and are not personally invested in how the issue is resolved. For the public and those who appear before them to have faith that their cases will be decided impartially and in compliance with the law, judges individually and as a body must be unbiased toward one another and toward all outside influences. They ought to be free from any improper influence when carrying out their judicial responsibilities. There are several sources of influence. The causes could include self-interest, the media, individual plaintiffs, certain pressure organizations, illegal executive or legislative pressure, or other judges, especially more senior judges.

A judiciary that is impartial and fair cannot operate without the backing of judges who are nominated to such posts. The direction of the nation, the evolution of the law, and the interpretation of the Constitution all depend on judges. For this reason, the appointment process needs to be open, equitable, and merit based.

  • Raj Narain, an activist, contested the then-prime minister Indira Gandhi's nomination, on the grounds that it was flawed in the Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain (1975) case. This case occurred immediately before to the emergency being declared. After the Court determined that Indira Gandhi's appointment was flawed, she was told to vacate her position. In the perspective of judicial independence, this decision turned out to be one of the most significant ones.


One of the most important characteristics of a healthy democracy is unquestionably an impartial and independent judiciary. It's commonly stated that absolute justice, an impartial court, and the rule of law are necessary for a society to flourish socially and maintain its democratic credentials.

  • Timely Justice: In addition to being a fundamental human right, prompt justice is also necessary to uphold the rule of law and provide effective government.
  • Ensuring an impartial functioning will contribute to a greater level of public trust in the judiciary as an institution.
  • Judicial accountability is especially crucial since the court must protect our constitution, making any erosion of values there far more hazardous than in any other branch of the government.
  • The public's trust in the established courts must be upheld if the judiciary is to continue functioning as an independent institution.
  • In the era of gender neutrality, the judiciary must cease being tolerant of any one gender's influence and instead rely on the facts and supporting documentation. Positive bias will undermine the goal of impartial justice.


INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY: The State will ensure the independence of the judiciary, and it will be codified in the nation's Constitution or other legal documents. All governmental and non-governmental organizations have an obligation to uphold and respect the judiciary's independence. Without limitations, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats, or interferences, direct or indirect, from any source or for any cause, the judiciary is required to make decisions on matters presented to it in an unbiased manner, based on the facts and in compliance with the law.

  • The concept of judicial review may be traced back to the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), where Chief Justice Marshall recognized that the court had the jurisdiction to consider legislation made by the legislature. Many scholars, however, have criticized this notion for several reasons, such as judicial authoritarianism, an overreliance on judges, being undemocratic, and standing in the way of a robust democracy.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION: Just like any other citizen, judges have the right to freedom of expression, belief, association, and assembly. However, in the exercise of these rights, judges must always conduct themselves in a way that upholds the dignity of their office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. To represent their interests, advance their professional development, and safeguard their judicial independence, judges are free to establish and join associations of judges or other groups.

QUALIFICATIONS: Individuals with integrity, aptitude, and the necessary legal education or credentials will be chosen for judicial position. Every procedure used to choose judges must provide protection against appointments made for unethical reasons. A requirement that a candidate for judicial office be a national of the country in question shall not be deemed discriminatory. However, there shall be no discrimination against a person in the selection of judges on the grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or status.

PROFESSIONAL ANONYMITY AND SECRECY: When it comes to their discussions and any private information they learn while performing their duties—aside from in public proceedings—the judiciary is protected by professional secrecy and cannot be forced to testify about them. Judges should have personal immunity from civil litigation for monetary damages for wrongful acts or omissions in the execution of their judicial powers, without prejudice to any disciplinary proceeding, right of appeal, or entitlement to compensation from the State, in line with national law.


The Indian constitution uses a variety of strategies to protect the judiciary's independence while upholding the ideas of parliamentary and constitutional sovereignty.

Security of Tenure of Judges

Article 124(2) and 217(1) –Judges hold their positions until they reach the retirement age, which is 65 years for justices of the Supreme Court [u/a 124(2)] and 62 years for judges of the High Court [u/a 217(1)]. They can only be removed from office by the President's proclamation, and only in cases of demonstrable incompetence and wrongdoing. 

A majority of at least two-thirds of the members present and voting, as well as the whole membership of each House of Parliament, are required to approve a resolution. No Supreme Court or High Court judge has ever been removed under this rule due to the difficulty of the procedure.

  • Advocates on Record of the Supreme Court v. Union of India (1993) 

The court's decision in S.P. Gupta's case has been overturned, with the new ruling holding that the President must heed the Chief Justice's opinion since he is better qualified than other constitutional machinery to assess a candidate's qualifications.

Separation of the Judiciary from the Executive

Article 50-Article 50, one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, mandates that the State take action to keep the judiciary and executive branches apart in the state's public services. Preserving the judiciary's autonomy from the executive branch is its aim.

Salaries and Allowances of Judges

Because the judges' pay and benefits are set and not subject to legislative approval, this is another aspect that contributes to their independence. For Supreme Court judges, they are charged against the Consolidated Fund of India; for High court judges, they are charged against the Consolidated Fund of State. According to Article 125(2), their emoluments cannot be changed to their detriment unless there is an extreme financial emergency.

The Constitution's Article 112(3)(d)(i) mandated that the budget include a clause covering the payment of pensions, benefits, and salaries to Supreme Court judges. Article 202(3)(d) addresses the wages and benefits of High Court judges.

Power to Punish for Contempt

Contempt of court is justified by the idea that for courts to fulfil their role as arbiters of justice, they must have the authority to enforce adherence to their rulings. Both civil and criminal contempt are considered acts of contempt of court.

Article 19(2), Article 129, and Article 215 of the Indian Constitution all address contempt of court. Article 19(2) of the Constitution states that the State may enact laws that reasonably restrict free speech, one of the bases being contempt of court. The Indian Constitution states in Article 129 that the Supreme Court will operate as a "court of record." Article 215 accords the High Courts a comparable status.

Powers and Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The only way to increase or decrease the Supreme Court's authority is by parliamentary action. The maximum amount that can be appealed to the Supreme Court in civil cases may be modified by Parliament. Parliament may increase the Supreme Court's appeal jurisdiction as well as grant it greater powers to improve its operational efficiency.

In addition, the Parliament may authorize the issuance of directives, writs, or orders for any purpose not specified in Article 32. The power of the Supreme Court cannot be taken away.

The conduct of a judge is not discussed in the state legislature or Parliament:

According to Article 211, the State legislature is not permitted to dispute any Supreme Court or High Court judge's actions while performing their duties. Article 121 contains a comparable clause that prohibits Parliament from debating how a judge of the Supreme Court or High Court should conduct himself while carrying out his duties until a motion to remove the judge from office has been submitted.


The most significant component of the judiciary are the judges. Making sure the judges can handle the variety of situations that come up daily is crucial. Appointing judges requires careful consideration and extensive work during the selection process. Judges shouldn't be moved around needlessly; moves should only be made when there is a good reason. As a result, the nomination of judges is a very important process that requires careful consideration both the government and the judiciary.

The collegium method is used to appoint judges to the higher judiciary. The Chief Justice of India and the four most senior Supreme Court justices make up the collegium, which makes decisions about judicial transfers, promotions, and appointments.

Article 124 of the Indian Constitution, which addresses the establishment and constitution of the Supreme Court, states that each judge of the Supreme Court will be appointed by the President through a warrant under his or her hand and seal, following consultation with the judges of the Supreme Court and the State High Courts, as the President may think fit. The judges will serve in this capacity until they turn 65. It is mandatory for the President to consider the Chief Justice of India's views when making judicial appointments.

The Government is bound by the views expressed by the Chief Justice of India. After thorough consultation with a collegium including no less than four of the Supreme Court's most senior judges, the CJI's opinion must be formulated. 

He should not forward the suggestion to the Government even if two judges render a disapproving decision.

A previous conversation with the "chief justice of India" is required before the President moves a judge from one court to another during the judge transfer process. Article 222, however, has a clause about a judge being transferred from one high court to another. Even though the president has the power to move judges, the "chief justice" of India ultimately makes the choice to move the judge.


According to DY Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India, an independent judiciary includes not only the judges' autonomy in carrying out their duties but also their separation from the executive and legislative.

The fact that the judiciary's independence is a fundamental component of the constitution has been emphasized numerous times. Judges must act impartially, fearlessly, and without partiality for the judiciary to fulfil its constitutional mandate. As a barrier against the executive branch's misuse or abuse of authority, the judiciary exists between the citizen and the State. As a result, the court must be immune from any pressure or influence from the executive branch, as stipulated by several constitutional clauses.

The Western media has mostly ignored the important part of India's slide towards authoritarianism—the weakening of judicial independence. The democracy with the largest population in the world is currently struggling with a compromised system of checks and balances, in which the courts essentially serve as tools of the national government.

It is essential to comprehend the basic architecture of the legal system to understand the nature of the problems with India's courts. The Indian judiciary is a part of a centralized system. In contrast to the federal form of governance in the United States, which divides authority between the federal government and the states, India's central government holds a disproportionate amount of power. On the other hand, the judiciary is organized in a pyramidal fashion, resembling the American legal system, with the district and lower courts at the base, the higher courts in the middle, and the Supreme Court at the top.

Because the three pillars of government are fundamentally linked rather than separate and autonomous, the commingling of the branches of government calls into question the integrity of the Constitution as a mechanism to protect democracy in India. As a result, the judicial branch's impartiality may be threatened by this interconnection, making it vulnerable to political influence.

The Indian legal system can no longer function impartially; thus, it can no longer be the last line of defence against the deterioration of democratic values.

•    In the matter of Jagdeep Chokkar v Union of India (2020), a petition was submitted to allow the migrant labourers who were left trapped and defenceless during the lockdown to return to their homes. While a petition for the quashing of the FIRs against the case of Arnab Goswami v Union of India (2020) was heard the following day, while the first case matter was not heard right away. Thus, the question of which case the court considered to be more significant was contentious.

The case of Bhima Koregaon

2018 saw unrest that resulted in one death and other injuries, interrupting the commemorations of the battle of Bhima Koregaon's bicentennial. After investigating, the police detained several activists on the grounds that their provocative remarks were ultimately responsible for the violence. To investigate the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act allegations against the activists who were arrested, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed with the Special Investigation Team (SIT). The plaintiffs claimed that the Mumbai Police made a biased choice. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court, which ruled 2:1 in favour of dismissal. 

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud expressed dissatisfaction with the Mumbai Police's inquiry, but the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra and Justice Khanwilkar expressed satisfaction. Dissident Justice Chandrachud said that the arrests were intended to suppress political opposition.


The judiciary is established by the constitution and is independent. A fair judicial system depends on the judiciary's independence. For the judiciary to render a decision that seems reasonable, neither the legislature nor the executive branch should meddle in its internal affairs. When judges intervene, there can be some bias involved in their ability to render an impartial judgment. It is impossible to think of a different strategy to strengthen the Indian courts' independence and shield them from the other two organs' influence.

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