The judiciary is a system of courts that works to uphold the supremacy of the law in every country. It is essential to the operation of democracy. The judiciary, together with the executive and legislative branches of government, is one of the three main institutions recognised by the doctrine of the separation of powers. The judiciary checks to see if the law is correctly obeyed, as well as interprets and applies the law in a variety of legal situations, whereas the legislative and executive are involved with creating and carrying out the law, respectively. The judiciary must act impartially and independently, per the principle of separation of powers.
For a democracy to thrive, an independent judiciary is crucial. As a result, it is assumed that the judiciary will maintain its neutrality. Nonetheless, the independence of the judiciary is frequently jeopardised as a result of some outside forces and pressure from numerous powerful groups. It is further stated why having an independent judiciary is crucial, why it has specific characteristics, and most importantly, why its independence is sometimes questioned.
Concept of a completely independent judiciary
An independent judiciary implies that the executive and legislative branches must refrain from interfering with its operations. The judiciary should not represent the government or the ruling party and should be free from all of their influences and interests. In an independent judiciary, judges should be free to use their judicial authority without outside interference, restraint, or fear. The judiciary's autonomy is crucially protected by impartial judges, who also serve as the cornerstone of a just and impartial judicial system.
To put it another way, the concept of an independent judiciary refers to the political idea that the judiciary should interpret the laws and the Constitution of the relevant nation without being influenced in any way by the other branches of government, political parties, the general public, or any partisan interests.
A basic assurance of the judiciary's independence is the division of powers. Judges should be free to render impartial judgements in accordance with their view of the law and the evidence when making decisions. They should be free to act without being constrained by unjustified pressure, fear, or favour.
An iconic ruling issued by the US Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Nixon (1974) that unanimously ruled against President Richard Nixon and demanded that he turn over the Watergate Trial Tapes serves as a prime example in this regard. This decision upheld the Rule of Law principle and served as a reminder that even the US President is not above the law. Parallel to this, in the Indian case State of U.P. v. Raj Narain & Ors (1975), the Allahabad High Court found that Indira Gandhi, who was the country's prime minister at the time, committed electoral fraud and ordered the election to be annulled.
The USA adopted the system of separation of powers to guarantee an independent court. But when a constitutional system is founded on parliamentary sovereignty, as it is in the UK or India, judicial supremacy is typically used to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
In India, judges are appointed to the Supreme Court and High Courts with a minimum of intervention from other government branches in order to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. A judge can be appointed, but it is very tough to get them out. The precondition for ensuring the strong democratic spirit of any country is an independent judiciary.
The need for a separate judiciary
The judiciary is the most significant branch of the government and it prevents the executive and legislative branches from abusing their authority. In a democracy, judicial independence is crucial. To ensure that persons who come before them to seek justice and the public at large can have faith that their cases will be judged properly and in accordance with the law, judges must be impartial and separate from any outside forces as well as from one another.
Judges must be free from any inappropriate influence while performing their judicial duties. Any number of entities, including the executive branch, lawmakers, the media, and specific plaintiffs, particularly pressure organisations, may exert such influence.
With the expansion of the government's influence over our daily lives over the past century, judges' roles have become more complex. Together with the expansion of governmental duties, disagreements between citizens and the government have also grown. The judiciary now safeguards the common man against the illegal actions of the government in addition to delivering justice. Since then, there has been a greater need for an independent judiciary.
Types of judicial independence
Two types of judicial independence predominate. These are decisional independence and institutional or functional independence.
Judicial independence is institutional
Judicial independence, whether institutional or functional, refers to the idea that the other branches of the government must never, under any circumstances, meddle in the affairs of the court. It completely depends on the level of power separation. The judiciary is free to choose the judicial officers' or judges' salary, benefits, and other employment-related decisions. It is the judiciary's separation from other State institutions or departments.
Protection against interference and freedom from the influence of strong people, groups, and lobbyists are two aspects of institutional or functional judicial independence. The concept of the rule of law is fundamentally based on the institutional or functional independence of the judiciary from the executive and the legislature.
Independent judicial decision-making
The concept of decisional judicial independence states that when making a decision in a specific case, a judge should be objective, unbiased, and free from any biases. Decisional judicial independence is the phrase used to describe a judge's independence.
Additionally, it states that a judge must make decisions based only on the relevant facts and laws, free from political or media viewpoints, outside pressure, interference, or influence, as well as any fear of repercussions for their own careers.
Again, there are two sorts of judicial independence in decisions.
1) Substantive judicial independence, which states that when a judge is making a decision and using the judicial authority granted to them, they are not subject to any other authority but rather the law itself.
2) Personal judicial independence is the idea that judges should be unbiased or neutral, free from outside pressure or fear, and should make decisions based only on the evidence presented and the legislation in effect.
The judiciary is frequently referred to as a "fragile bastion" because of concerns that the outside influences and pressures it must contend with may cause the institution's impartiality and neutrality as well as a judge's personal integrity to disintegrate. A strong democracy is built on an independent court, which also serves as the last resort for those seeking justice. It is crucial to keep in mind that it is the individual judges' job to uphold the independence of the judiciary.
At the end of the day, it is important to keep in mind that maintaining the rule of law requires the independence of the judiciary. Because of this, the rhetoric used by the government and the media to demonise the court should be of considerable concern. Despite all of its shortcomings, the legal system remains the last resort for the average person seeking justice. A democracy cannot function successfully without an independent court because there will be no institution to guard and regulate the rights of the ordinary people. Therefore, it is imperative to protect the judiciary's independence at all costs.
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"