Courts intervene not to usurp, but only to nudge Govt to act: CJI

“To misconstrue it as the targetting of one institution by another is totally misplaced”

November 27, 2021 04:30 am | Updated 10:57 am IST - NEW DELHI

Chief Justice of India Justice N.V. Ramana addresses at the Constitution Day Celebrations in New Delhi on Friday.

Chief Justice of India Justice N.V. Ramana addresses at the Constitution Day Celebrations in New Delhi on Friday.

Courts intervene not to usurp the role of the government, but to nudge it to take care of “unresolved grievances”, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said on Friday.

The CJI's words comes at the end of a year that saw the Supreme Court intervene on issues as varied as vaccination programme for COVID-19, distribution of oxygen to Delhi's dying citizens, setting up the Justice R.V. Raveendran expert committee to enquire into Pegasus spyware allegations and appointing a retired High Court judge to monitor the Lakhimpur Kheri murders of farmers and civilians in which the prime accused is the son of a Union Minister.


The CJI said attempts to misconstrue such judicial interventions and “constructive observations” as the “targetting” of one institution by another was “totally misplaced”. Chief Justice Ramana warned that such “misplaced” attempts would ultimately prove “detrimental to the health of the democracy”.

“The Laxman Rekha drawn by the Constitution is sacrosanct. But there are times when courts are compelled to pay attention to unresolved grievances in the interest of justice. The intention behind such limited judicial interventions is to nudge the executive, and not to usurp its role,” Chief Justice Ramana said in his Constitution Day address.

Collective responsibility

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present at the event, said “separation of powers” enshrined in the Constitution was a collective resolve as well as a collective responsibility of the three arms — executive, judiciary and legislature — of governance.

“Government and judiciary were born from the womb of the Constitution. They are twins. It is because of the Constitution that both came into existence. So if you look closely, despite being separate, they complement each other,” the Prime Minister said.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, in his closing remarks, said the “Constitution may formally separate the institutions we represent, but it integrates us in the vision to preserve, protect and nurture the roots and foliage of our democracy”.

“The roots are her foundation. The foliage, her manifestations. When India attained freedom, our people forged unity amidst a plurality of hues of region, language, culture and religion... We wrestled free from our colonial past and guaranteed meaningful and representative citizenship to every person,” Justice Chandrachud said.

The Constitution empowers our democratic vision and charges our path to collective aspirations, the Supreme Court judge noted.

Attacks on Judges

Chief Justice Ramana quoted B. R. Ambedkar. “… However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it happen to be a good lot”.

The CJI said the Preamble of the Constitution to secure social, economic, and political justice to all the citizens imposes a sacred duty upon the State as a whole.

The CJI flagged the increasing attacks on judges, both physically and on social media, an “area of grave concern”.

“These attacks appear to be sponsored and synchronised. The law enforcing agencies, particularly the Central agencies, need to deal with such malicious attacks effectively. The governments are expected to create a secure environment so that the judges and judicial officers can function fearlessly,” Chief Justice Ramana stressed.

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