Public Administration Mains 2020 : Model Question and Answer - 115

(Public Administration Paper II / Chapter: Union Government and Administration)

Current Question : Supreme Court has to act with urgency to protect citizens from executive excesses. Discuss (25 Marks/400 words)

Model Answer :

The Supreme Court of India enjoys an extraordinary status in the hearts and minds of Indians. They look up to it when it comes to keeping the essence of the nation intact and insulated from attacks by the executive of the day. The Court has created for itself an exalted position over the last seven decades by assuming the role of a sentinel on the Qui Vive (“on the alert” or “vigilant”).

Part III of the Constitution of India contains Fundamental Rights and Article 13(2) thereof mandates that, “The State shall not make any Law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this part and any Law made in contravention of this Clause shall to the extent of contravention be void.” Thus, there is a twofold provision — prohibiting the state from making an unconstitutional law, and simultaneously declaring that such a law would be void.

Article 14 contains a positive injunction against the state: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the Law or the Equal Protection of the Laws within the territory of India”.This is the essence of Article 14, a basic feature of the Constitution, which obliges the courts, especially the Supreme Court, to review state-made laws and declare them as unconstitutional, if found to be so.

The Court cannot desert its duty to determine the constitutionality of an impugned statute. And so, the decision of the SC, led by the chief justice himself, to defer the examination of the challenge to the much talked about Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 is, to say the least, disappointing.

The Delhi High Court’s order to defer the writs in the Jamia violence cases is a shocking abdication of its constitutional duty. It appears that judges across the spectrum are unwilling to test the executive’s actions, however unconstitutional they may be.

The Preamble is an irreversible contract between the state and its people to keep India a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic”, and, “to secure to all its citizens” justice, equality, fraternity and liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.

The great judge, H R Khanna, in the celebrated Kesavananda Bharati case declared that the “State shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of religion only”, and, interpreted Articles 15(1) and 16(2), even before the “secular” word was added to the Preamble. (Total Words- 388)

(Linkages : Supreme Court and Executive, Supreme Court and Citizen, Supreme Court and constitution)

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