Why Some Court Verdicts Are Considered Arbitrary In India – OpEd


With the steadily increasing lack of public confidence in politicians and bureaucrats, Indians are now increasingly viewing judiciary as the conscience keeper of the country, to ensure probity and fairness in dealings on matters of national and social importance.

In such scenario, judiciary in India has now become a very powerful force , strengthened considerably by the people’s perception and expectation that judges can do no wrong. Therefore, the verdicts of the court are now deemed to be the be all and end all of solutions for settling all sorts of disputes and disagreements .

While courts enjoy enormous clout in the country today, there are also disturbing news of some judges at various levels being suspected of not measuring up to the requisite standards and not meeting the expectations that “the Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”. Recently, when the judges at the highest level in the country openly accused the Chief Justice in a press conference , many people started wondering whether the level of confidence that the country men have placed in judiciary is appropriate.

Further, in recent years, there have been many instances of judgement of the lower court being over ruled by High Court and judgement of the High Court being over ruled by Supreme Court and judgement of two member bench of the Supreme Court being over ruled by five member bench. Such over turning of the verdict of the lower court by the higher court have become too frequent and not rarity anymore. In such scenario, the disturbing thought is running through in people’s mind whether the judgements could always be considered as fair and which judgement is right and which is wrong.

Judiciary in India is at the cross roads today . While still enjoying considerable support from the public, judiciary has to maintain it’s credibility at highest standards, so that public confidence will not get diluted.

Some of the recent judgements of Supreme court on matters such as adultery, homosexuality, entry of women of all age groups in Sabarimala temple, restricting bursting of crackers to two hours during Deepavali day have all become highly controversial and have raised the eyebrows in many quarters. Large section of country men and many religious outfits think that legalizing of such acts as homosexuality and adultery by the Supreme Court is extremely detestable under any circumstances.

General understanding is that the judiciary should give verdict on the basis of laws enshrined in the Constitution and enacted by parliament from time to time. However, in recent years, Supreme Court has no hesitation in entertaining cases that should be left to the administration to tackle, as it involves no interpretation of law.

Further, in awarding the verdicts on several matters of public interest which are not related to the law of the land but only some vague concept of personal liberty with conflicting interpretation and public perception, judges appear to be guided by their own personal perspectives and do not seem to take into consideration the traditional practices , beliefs and public sentiments while pronouncing judgements.

As the judgements are being delivered on quite a few matters not based on law but based on perspectives and personal opinions of the judges and probably without considering holistic logic, it is becoming difficult to implement some of the directives due to public protest.

For example, the Supreme Court verdict on allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple cannot be implemented in view of the very strong opposition from devotees. Similarly, Supreme Court verdict that fire crackers should be burst only for two hours on Deepavali day has been defied by the people.

The courts are compelling the governments to implement measures and rulings such as two wheeler riders should wear helmet, noise level must be restricted in certain period of day etc. which all come under the purview of administration.

Matters relating to administration should be discussed in legislative assemblies and parliament and the government has to take decision weighing pros and cons, it’s own policy approach and of course, duly considering the overwhelming public opinion expressed in various forums, social media , print and visual media.Is there any need for court to interfere in such matters?

It is high time that judges should take a re look at their approach and appreciate the importance of distinguishing between the matter that squarely fall under administrative jurisprudence and the domain of judiciary. Further, judges should keep in view that their primary responsibility is to uphold the rule of law and not pass judgements on matters relating to administration based on their personal view and convictions.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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