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Supreme Court warns judges against judicial overreach

Cautioning the judiciary against judicial activism, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said judges must remain within the limits of the law and not peddle individual perceptions and notions of justice.

“He [a judge] may be one who would like to sing the song of liberty and glorify the same abandoning passivity, but his solemn pledge has to remain embedded to Constitution and the laws,” a judgment by the Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and S.K. Singh said on June 29.

The judgment provides a sharp mix of caution and rebuke to judges who cross the fine line between judicial functions and judicial activism.

The apex court said if a judgeconsidered himself or herself a “candle of hope” and took decisions under the influence of such a notion, it mightdo more harmthan good to the society.

“He [a judge] may consider himself as a candle of hope but application of the said principle in all circumstances is not correct because it may have the potential to affect society. While using the power he has to bear in mind that ‘discipline’ and ‘restriction’ are the two basic golden virtues within which a judge functions,” Justice Misra wrote.

The verdict was passed on a petition by the Gujarat government challenging an August 2012 order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that said the State’s refusal to prematurely release a TADA convict, Lal Singh, was “illegal.” The High Court also ordered the State to release him on parole for three months.

“The impugned order, as we notice, is gloriously silent and, in fact, an abrupt direction has been issued to release the first respondent [Lal Singh] on parole for a period of three months. It is well settled in law that a Judge is expected to act in consonance and accord with the legal principles. He cannot assume the power on the basis of his individual perception or notion,” Justice Misra wrote.

The judgment, setting aside the High Court order, also noted that authorities’ report on the convict showed that he was “involved in disruptive activities, criminal conspiracy, smuggling of arms, ammunitions and explosives.”

“It has also been mentioned that the prisoner used to purchase vehicles for transportation and his conduct showed that he had widespread network to cause harm and create disturbance to national security,” Justice Misra observed.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 10:54:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Supreme-Court-warns-judges-against-judicial-overreach/article14474601.ece

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