Role of Supreme Court as a Guardian – Article 37

Role of Supreme Court as a Guardian – Article 37

The role of Supreme Court is essential in the constitutional system in India. The most important responsibility is to ensure that laws are fairly administered and to make sure that no citizen is denied justice by any court in the country.  It also serves as a unifying factor in the country. It ensures perfection in constitutional, civil and criminal laws. It’s like in fact “the cement that has held the entire federal structure together”. Therefore, it is expected to serve as the Federation’s balance wheel. The Supreme Court can be labelled as the Constitution’s defender hence it can be regarded as the guardian of the Constitution as well as the people it governs, and their rights. It has the power of judicial review to interpret the Constitution and protect people’s liberties.

The provisions contained in Part 37 shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.

The Supreme Court of India

The Indian Supreme Court is neither as powerful nor as powerless as the American or British judiciaries as defined in the case of A. K. Gopalan vs. the State of Madras which revolved around the Prevention Detention Act of 1950 which allowed the government to detain individuals without trial if they were deemed to be a threat to national security and the Supreme Court defined its own powers. During the making of the constitution of India, the authors made sure of two things that a proper balance is struck, and as such, the Supreme Court of India is a superb institution in India’s constitutional system. In India, the judiciary is neither a “Super-Legislature” nor a “clog in the wheel of progress” like in England and the United States of America respectively. “Within limits, no Judge and no Supreme Court can make itself a Third Chamber,” said Pandit Nehru of the Supreme Court’s role and also the Preamble could not be used to interpret the Constitution.

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No Supreme Court or Judiciary can rule over Parliament’s sovereign will, which is the will of the entire community. Mistakes are made but they are pointed out and fixed hence in the end no judiciary can get in the way of the community’s future. If the provisions of the Constitution are violated by the Parliament’s acts the Supreme court can declare them unconstitutional. However decisions made by the Supreme Court can be overturned by the Parliament by amending the constitution. Hence, the Supreme Court’s authority in India is more like a check on the Executive’s abuse of authority than on the Legislature.

The Supreme Court of India has successfully served as the Constitution’s guardian since 1950 as shown by issuing landmark decisions in  A. K. Gopalan vs. the State of Madras, Dr. Pratap Singh vs. the State of Punjab, K. M. Nanavati vs. the State of Bombay, and others. It acted with great bravery when it declared the Bihar Zamindari Abolition Act to be ultra vires. To make the abolition of Zamindari legal, the Parliament had to amend the Constitution. Since 1950, the Supreme Court has demonstrated that its judges have acted with dignity, impartiality and independence. It acted with great bravery when it declared the Bihar Zamindari Abolition Act to be ultra vires. To make the abolition of Zamindari legal, the Parliament had to amend the Constitution. Since 1950, the Supreme Court has demonstrated that its judges have acted with dignity, impartiality, and independence.

As the concept of public interest litigation emerged, the role of the Supreme court expanded further.  A petition can be filed in court not only by the aggrieved party but also by any conscious person or organization seeking relief on their behalf under the principle of public. The Supreme Court took a liberal stance, saying that issues can be raised without formally filing a suit.   Letters or telegrams sent to the Supreme Court by socially conscious citizens or organizations, as well as petitions, may be considered writ petitions. Former Chief Justice of India P. N. Bhagawati stressed the importance.

Article 37

Article 37 states that “The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.”

According to Article 37 of the Constitution, the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)

 “shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country, and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.” It is no coincidence that the apparent distinction drawn by scholars between International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) rights and Economic social and cultural rights (ESCR) rights holds for the distinction drawn in the Indian context between fundamental rights and DPSP. Thus, the DPSP’s bar to justiciability is spelt out in some ways in the Constitution itself. However, through a creative and interpretative exercise, the Indian judiciary has overcome this apparent limitation. The Supreme Court has previously stated in certain cases that “The directive principles must conform to and run secondary to the chapter on fundamental rights.

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Conclusion

The respective roles defined by our constitution of the legislative, executive, and judiciary need to be upheld in each and every situation. Our Constitution provides both DPSP and Fundamental rights under the scrutiny of Article 37, which does not make the former enforceable in the court of law but does regard it as fundamental. It plays the role of a guardian and serves as the Constitution’s protector, putting a stop to the arbitrary exercise of power by either the Union or the State Legislature though it has limited judicial review authority. According to a foreign observer, the Indian judiciary “is not conceived as an additional Constitution-maker, but as a body to apply express law.”

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