Staff Reporter

Seminar organised by the court on judicial activism

  • `Courts must ascertain the bona fide of the petitioner'
  • `Unscrupulous persons filing cases under the garb of PILs'

    BANGALORE: Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court S.R. Nayak on Tuesday said courts while entertaining public interest litigations (PIL) petitions must be careful to ensure that the process of the courts is not abused.

    He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Karnataka High Court as part of its golden jubilee celebrations on "Judicial activism or judicial tyranny".

    He said the courts seemed to be disturbed by the recent trend of abusing the process of the law by unscrupulous persons filing cases under the garb of PILs or social interest litigations.

    Courts, while entertaining PILs, must ascertain the bona fide of the petitioner and find out whether he is really a public-spirited person or whether he has approached the court to settle personal scores.

    He said some people thinks that judicial activism has become judicial tyranny when they see that the court, in its new activist role, has transgressed its legitimate role assigned to it under the Constitution. He said judicial activism in recent years has become controversial and it has drawn many critics and opponents.


    The misuse and abuse of the power of the law in PILs was first noticed by the courts itself and they have warned such people by levying costs.

    He said the time had come for the constitutional courts to nip in the bud unscrupulous PILs but also make movers of such petitions accountable in more concrete terms. Mere disapproval of such PILs by the courts by way of observation will not help the public justice in the long run. He said the power of judicial review is vested in the High Courts and in the Supreme Court under the basic feature of the Constitution and it cannot be abridged or taken away even by constitutional amendments.

    Senior advocate S.P. Shankar said the word judicial activism is not traceable to any law or statute but that it is a word coined by critics and the media.

    He said when the executive fails in the discharge of its function, the judiciary steps in to activate the machinery.

    Mr. Shankar said judicial review is one of the basic features of the Constitution and judicial activism emanates from it. But for judicial activism, bonded labour would not have been exposed and police atrocities or excesses and crimes against women would not have come to light.

    Welcoming judicial activism, he said it had rendered invaluable service to the people.

    Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph, Justice Chidananda Ullal, other High Court judges and advocates were present.