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Syllabus—GS2: Issues related to Constitution
After a very long period
CJI N V Ramana: The former is what we fought for, the latter is an instrument of colonial rule. In the face of a pandemic, it’s important to reflect on how the tension between the two defines the quality of justice.
- , the entire world is facing an unprecedented crisis in the form COVID-19 pandemic.
- At this juncture, everyone necessarily has to pause & evaluate the utilization of the Rule of Law to ensure the protection & welfare of all the people.
What is Law means?
- Law is a tool of social control that is backed by the sovereign.
- But above definition makes law a double-edged sword because It is not just used to render justice but also used to justify oppression.
- So many scholars argued that a Law cannot really be classified as law unless it imbibes within itself the ideals of justice & equity.
- However, an unjust law might not have the same moral legitimacy as a just law but it still commands the obedience f some sections of the society to the detriment of others.
- From above it is evident that Any Law backed by a sovereign must be tempered by certain ideals or tenets of justice.
- Only that state governed by such law can be said to have the Rule of Law.
Rule of Law vs. Rule by Law:
- The colonial power used the law as a tool of political repression enforcing it unequally on the parties.
- The British rule was famous for Rule by Law rather than Rule of Law because it is aimed at controlling Indian subjects.
- India’s Struggle for independence thus marked India’s journey towards the establishment of a state defined by the Rule of Law.
- The much-needed framework that forms a binding link between law & justice is enshrined in the Constitution of India.
What is the Rule of Law?
- Within many emerged conceptions of Rule of Law, there four relevant principles to be emphasized:
- The first principle, laws must be clear & accessible that the people at least ought to know what the laws are.
- Also, the law should be worded in simple, unambiguous language.
Second, relates to the idea of Equality Before the Law:
- The important aspect of equality before the law is having equal access to justice.
- If vulnerable sections due to their poverty or illiteracy unable to enjoy their rights, then the guarantee of equal justice will be rendered meaningless.
Issue of Gender equality is another aspect of the principle:
- The legal empowerment of women not only enables them to advocate their rights & needs in society but also increases their visibility in the legal reform process & allows their participation.
- The third principle, the Right to participate in the creation & refinement of laws.
- The very essence of Democracy is that its citizenry has a role to play in the laws that govern them.
- In India, it is done through elections, where people elected representatives to enact the laws.
- The masses of India proved themselves to be intelligent & up to the task.
- Now it is the turn of those who are manning the key organs of the state to living up to the Constitutional mandate.
- It is well-recognized that the mere right to change the ruler by itself need not be a guarantee against tyranny.
- The idea that people are the ultimate sovereign is also to be found in the notions of human dignity & autonomy.
The fourth principle: Presence of a strong independent judiciary.
- Judiciary is the primary organ in ensuring that the laws are enacted are in line with the Constitution.
- The SC has held above the judicial review function to be a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
- However, the importance of the judiciary shouldn’t blind us to the fact that the responsibility of safeguarding constitutionalism lies not just with the courts, but with all three organs of the state.
- the role of the judiciary & scope of judicial action is limited as it is driven by facts/evidence.
- This limitation calls for other organs to assume responsibilities of upholding constitutional values & ensuring justice in the first justice, with the judicial checks.
- Complete freedom becomes paramount for the Judiciary to apply checks on governmental action & power.
- If the judiciary is controlled by the executive or legislature, then the Rule of Law becomes null & void.
- The new media tools that have enormous capabilities of amplifying the public opinion has to lead to increasing instance of medial trails.
- At the same time, judges should not be swayed by the emotional pitch of this amplified public opinion or media trails.
- However, judges have to be mindful of the noise & have to be rational & unbiased in their rulings.
- Therefore it is extremely vital to function independently & withstand all external pressures & aids.
To summarize, there is no need for judges & judiciary to completely dissociate from the world because the judges cannot sit in a ivory castle & decide social issues questions.
However, the Ultimate duty & responsibility lies in the Oath taken by the Judges in performing their duties without any fear or favor, affection, or ill-will & to uphold the Constitution, its ideals & the laws.
A public discourse that is both reasoned & reasonable is to be seen as an inherent aspect of human dignity, hence essential to a properly functioning democracy. Comment