Upgrad LLM

suo moto


please explain the suo moto case or report?

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Advocate

What is the context, even if theoretical?


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Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh

Suo Moto cognizance is when the courts in India take a case on their own. Suo Moto in India has been warranted under Article 32 & Article 226 of the constitution. Recently, a lot of instances can be seen where the Indian judiciary has taken up Suo Moto cases such as the Murthal Rape Case.

A Suo Moto cognizance is a Latin term which means an action taken by a government agency, court or other central authority on their own apprehension. A court takes a Suo Moto Cognizance of a legal matter when it receives information about the violation of rights or breach of duty through media or a third party’s notification. In India, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution lay down the provisions for filing Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India in Supreme Court and High Courts respectively. This has given rise to the court's’ power to initiate legal action on their cognizance of a matter.

 

Suo Moto’s actions by Indian courts are a reflection of activism by the judiciary and captivated the general public with the speedy delivery of justice by the courts. Suo Moto cases in India are generally taken up by the Supreme Court. The Indian Judiciary has been undoubtedly holding the baton for democracy for the past few years. In numerous instances, different High Courts and the Supreme Court have risen to the occasion by taking cognizance of a legal issue on their own and provided swift justice.

 

Various courts in India have initiated legal proceedings on their own based on media reports, telegrams and letters received by aggrieved people, taking a Suo Moto cognizance of the issue. Suo Moto action is when a High Court or Supreme Court on its own take control over the matter or the case.

 

 
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Lawyer

The Suo Moto has its genesis in the concept of “Epistolary Jurisdiction”, which emerged in the late seventies through judicial activism in order to make the judicial process more accessible to poor, socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the Society. Suo Moto cases are instances wherein the High Courts and the Supreme court of India using their inherent powers initiate a hearing by taking cognizance of any matter on its own, without anybody filing any appeal or writ petition. It is the article Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution enable the Supreme Court and High Courts respectively to issue any directions to do or refrain to do an act. By virtue of these two Articles and also the emergence of Public Interest Litigation has allowed these Courts to take up Suo Moto cases. The rationale for such actions also draws upon the desire of the courts to broaden the reach of justice to those who might not be able to access the court.

What is Suo Moto's power?

The Suo Moto has its genesis in the concept of “Epistolary Jurisdiction”, which emerged in the late seventies through judicial activism in order to make the judicial process more accessible to poor, socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the Society. Suo Moto cases are instances wherein the High Courts and the Supreme court of India using their inherent powers initiate a hearing by taking cognizance of any matter on its own, without anybody filing any appeal or writ petition. It is the article Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution enable the Supreme Court and High Courts respectively to issue any directions to do or refrain to do an act. By virtue of these two Articles and also the emergence of Public Interest Litigation has allowed these Courts to take up Suo Moto cases. The rationale for such actions also draws upon the desire of the courts to broaden the reach of justice to those who might not be able to access the court.

What is the Suo Moto petition?

When the court proceeds Suo Moto, using its jurisdictional powers and issues a Suo Moto writ on the grounds of blatant violation of the law, to maintain public order, to prevent the gross constitutional violation, to remedy grave injustice. The Suo Moto cognizance virtually presupposes the public at large as one of the parties. Therefore after the court takes cognizance of a matter, it usually appoints amicus curiae to assist the court.

In what cases can the court take Suo Moto action?

The ambit of Suo Moto action of the courts has not been defined in any statue or in any act, therefore there are no bracketed instances where the courts can take Suo Moto cognizance. It has been evolved by the judicial activism of the judges to consider the intent of the public at large. The court can take Suo Moto cognizance where it deems fit. However, over the years it has been seen that the court through the letters, media reports, etc. have taken Suo Moto cognizance where there has been a violation of basic human rights, or of conduct of government policies, or violation of religious rights or other basic fundamental rights, Fundamental duties of India etc. 

One such example is that when the Supreme Court took Suo Moto cognizance of Delhi air pollution. The courts in many instances have also taken Suo Moto cognizance of contempt of court, where ever the dignity of the court has been challenged or where someone had tried to obstruct the delivery of justice. 

The Court has the Suo Moto power to bring a case under its own jurisdiction, if it feels there has been grave injustice done, one such example is the recent Unnao rape case. The powers granted to the courts under Art 226 and Art 32 of the Indian Constitution is so wide that there cannot be made an exhaustive list of the instances where the court can take Suo Moto cognizance.

 
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