The limits of judicial activism
SIR, ~ This is with reference to the letter, ‘Between judicial activism and over-reach’ by Sukumar Mukhopadhyay (4 June). The dividing line between judicial activism and over-reach is rather thin. Over the years, the judiciary has crossed the line in a number of cases. Some years ago, two former Chief Justices ~ JS Verma and AS Anand ~ had expressed their anguish over the manner in which the judiciary crossed the lakhsman rekha to virtually snap the fine thread that separates the three organs of democracy ~ legislature, executive and judiciary.
The Supreme Court has listed certain cases where the judiciary strayed into the executive&’s domain. These cases related to nursery admissions in Delhi; the legality of constructions and identifying buildings to be demolished in Delhi; overcharging by Delhi auto-rickshaws; increasing number of road accidents, free beds in hospitals etc. In 2005, the judiciary overstretched its limit by directing the Speaker of the Jharkhand Assembly to conduct a trust-vote under the glare of CCTV.
Justices AK Mathur and Markendey Katju of the Supreme Court once cautioned against judicial activism and observed: “They (judges) must remember that judicial activism is not an unguided missile, failure to bear this in mind would lead to chaos. Public adulation must not sway the judges and personal aggrandisement must be eschewed”.
The judiciary ought not to harbour the illusion that it can function as a substitute for the two other organs of democracy. Judicial activism may be described as chemotherapy for a carcinogenic public body. Obviously, a patient is sometimes in need of chemotherapy, but overdose can turn out to be fatal.
yours, etc., jaydev jana, kolkata, 4 june.
Technical, lucid, brilliant
SIR, ~ Mr Bimal Kumar Chatterjee, Advocate-General of West Bengal deserves to be congratulated for his two-part article, “Judicial activism”, published on 31 May and 1 June . He has dealt with a technical subject with remarkable lucidity. The piece was as interesting as it was instructive and could only have been written by a person with considerable command over judicial affairs.
One particular sentence sums up his contention ~ “While judicial activism is a boon, judicial over-activism is a bane”. He has been able to convey his message to the lay reader, and bereft of technicalities. Even practitioners of law have something to learn.
Comparisons are odious; nevertheless as a regular reader of The Statesman I feel proud to state that such excellent articles are not to be seen in your contemporaries.
yours, etc., pradip kumar das, kolkata, 4 june.
SIR, ~ It was most interesting to read Mr Rajinder Puri&’s article “God save America” in The Sunday Statesman today. Mr Puri is a distinguished journalist who has gifted the readers of our newspaper with so many brilliant articles. Therefore, I am a little hesitant to point out that he has made a few minor (and yet important) mistakes in his latest piece. He has muddled up some dates. He writes, “China consented to sign the WTO agreement on 17/11 2001 that would bring its industry under international purview. Six days earlier on 9/11 2001 China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Afghanistan&’s Taliban government headed by Mullah Omar….On that very same day the terrorist 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the WTO in New York was launched.” The 9/11 attack was on the WTC (World Trade Center) twin towers in New York which is not the same as the WTO which is headquartered in Geneva.
yours, etc., nileen putatunda, kolkata, 9 june.
2 Rajinder Puri adds: Error admitted, correction welcomed. Sometimes haste makes careless waste. ~ Ed. S.
SIR, ~ The USA has eventually lifted what can be described as an unofficial embargo on India in terms of importing oil from Iran.
In fact, this was a form of American hegemony over India. We were asked to cut oil imports from Iran and Delhi bowed to US pressure and abided by the directive. It needs to be emphasised that Iran had been supplying oil to India at a very reasonable price, so very unlike the oil import from Arab countries.
yours, etc., baniprasanna datta, kolkata, 7 june.