The phrase "judicial activism" refers to the judiciary's strong position in safeguarding citizens' rights. Judges are inspired by judicial philosophy to disregard long-standing social policies in favor of new and progressive ones. In recent years, judicial activism in the courts has given legislation new dimensions. Fortunately, the judiciary has started to interpret the law within a social context.
Significance of judicial activism
Individual rights protection: By challenging laws and acts that discriminate against or oppress certain groups, judicial activism can serve to defend the rights of individuals and minority groups.
For instance, the Supreme Court's decision in the Vishakha case in 1997 resulted in the passage of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act in 2013.
Advancing the rule of law: Judicial activism serves to guarantee that the government functions within the confines of the law by evaluating and potentially rejecting legislation and activities that are regarded to be illegal or unconstitutional.
Strengthening democracy: Judicial activism can assist in avoiding government abuse of power and enhance accountability and openness in decision-making.
Promoting social change: By deciding on cases that address major social concerns and by creating legal precedents that determine the course of future legislation and policies, judicial activism can contribute to bringing about social change.
Example: The Supreme Court recognized the freedom to self-identify as a gender in “National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India” (2014). It resulted in the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019.
In the case of “Laxmi v. Union of India” (2015), a victim of an acid assault filed a petition in 2006 demanding for rules to limit the sale of acid and compensate the victim. Due to an increase in instances involving acid assaults on women, the Supreme Court imposed tight limitations on the sale of acid in 2013.
Selling acid became illegal as a result of the decision. Acid can only be sold by dealers to customers who have a proper identity and can justify the purchase. The dealer must notify the police within three days of the sale. It also made it illegal to sell acid to anybody under the age of 18.
The concept of judicial restraint urges the court to restrict the use of its judicial powers. In other words, a judge is not allowed to introduce his or her own opinions into the courtroom.
The doctrine of separation of powers, a key component of the Indian Constitution, is where the idea of judicial restraint originated. It seeks to strike a balance between the judiciary's duty as the Constitution's protector and the democratic ideals of representative government.
Judicial activism, in which judges are prohibited from intervening with democratic politics, is seen as the reverse of judicial restraint. It is essential because it enables the regular political process to function. By enabling the policymakers to make the decisions, it supports democratic self-governance.
Significance of judicial restraint
It contributes to the preservation of the separation of powers. Instead of the court legislating from its bench, the executive and legislative branches are doing their jobs.
It enables courts to concentrate on their respective responsibilities. It saves time since cases have been pending before the court for over a half-century. The court will not waste time on irrelevant subjects such as. Rather, it should push the administration to pass legislation within a certain time frame.
Case laws of Judicial Restraint
Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India
In this case, the Supreme Court declined to advise the municipal corporation on who should be responsible for maintaining Delhi’s cleanliness. It argued that it could only delegate authority to carry out the duties provided by law. It is not for the Supreme Court to tell them how to perform their vital tasks and settle their problems.
State of Rajasthan v. Union of India
The court rejected the petition on the ground that it involved a political question.
Kihota Holohan v. Zachillu and Others
The Supreme Court was requested to rule on the constitutionality of the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985. The court did not rule on the legality of provisions restricting the freedom of legislators. The court determined that the concerns were insufficient to make the amendment unlawful.