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upsc race   25 April 2020


Please explain Judicial activism.


 1 Replies

Karishma Yadav   27 April 2020


Thank you for your question.

The Judiciary has been assigned active role under the constitution and judicial activism is one of them.

Judicial activism refers to a theory of judgment that takes into account the spirit of the law and the changing times. It is the polar opposite of judicial restraint which relies on a strict interpretation of the law and the importance of legal precedent.

Judicial activism, as defined in Black law dictionary, is a judicial philosophy which motivate judges to depart from the traditional precedents in favor of progressive and new social policies.

The question of judicial activism is closely related to constitutional interpretation, statutory construction and separation of powers. It is the interpretation of the constitution to advocate contemporary values and conditions.

It provides that Judges should act more boldly when making decisions on cases, that law should be interpreted and applied based on ongoing changes in conditions and values and that as society changes and their beliefs and values change, courts should then make decisions in cases the reflect those changes.

According to the idea of judicial activism, judges should use their powers to correct injustices, especially when the other branches of government do not act to do so. In short, the courts should play an active role in shaping social policy on such issues as civil rights, protection of individual rights, political unfairness, and public morality.

Example for Judicial Activism-

  1. In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, the requirement of substantive due process was introduced into Article 21 by judicial interpretation. The due process clause, which was consciously and deliberately avoided by the Constitution makers, was introduced by judicial activism of the Indian Supreme Court.
  2. ‘Right to privacy’ has been made a fundamental right under Article 21 in R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu. The Court held that a citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child bearing and education, among other matters.
  3. In Bhagwan Dass V. State (NCT) of Delhi, the Supreme Court mandated death sentence for `honor killing’ which is killing of young men and women who married outside their caste or religion, or in their same village, thereby `dishonoring’ the parents or their caste.

The goals of judicial activism is to give power to overrule certain acts or judgments. It is the interpretation of the constitution to advocate contemporary values and conditions. It is more of a behavioral concept of the judge concerned.  It is majorly based on public interest, speedy disposal of cases among other things.

Hope this answers your question.



Karishma Yadav

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