DIMENSIONS OF JUDICIAL ACTIVISM

Justice A M  Ahmadi

 

What is judicial activism? How does it work in modern society? In a modern democratic State there are three instrumentalities constituting the State and executing its functions. These are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Though the judiciary is considered the weakest link since it has neither the power of the purse nor the sword, yet in recent times its role has assumed considerable importance because it seeks to prevent the excesses of the executive and the legislature and acts for protection and enforcement of their rights and as a keeper of their liberties.

In a democratic form of government, it must be remembered, judges do not have the last word, and in fact it is not appropriate that the authority of one organ of democracy should be absolute and final. The decision even of the apex court can be altered by ‘popular’ judgment of the legislature if it is found to thwart legislative intent. Similarly, the court can void legislature if it is found to be inconsistent with the Constitution. Thus, there is, so to say, an understanding between each organ of democracy that its decision is not final and may not prevail. Of course, there are those who like judges to believe that they alone are the true oracles of the law and are the only bulwarks against abuse of power by the other organs. Judges should guard against such flattery as it may tarnish the image of the judge and the judiciary. I would underline the fact that courts and legislatures are law-makers at work on the legal fabric of our society and their respective roles should therefore be viewed as potentially ‘a fruitful partnership’. It is well-known that the legislature often does not find sufficient time for a threadbare discussion before a Bill is turned into an enactment and therefore leaves gaps in the law, which gaps have to be filled by the courts through the process of interpretation. In an ever-growing and fast-changing societal set-up, the burden falls on the judiciary to mould the law to ensure its relevance in a changed scenario since amendment of the law may be a time-consuming process. There is therefore a partnership between the two organs and it would be wrong to assume, as some do, that the judiciary and the legislature are at loggerheads; to so think is to fail to appreciate their respective roles, albeit, in some situations their roles may conflict. Democracy can function smoothly only if there is a healthy respect for each other’s role.

 There are some who believe that the wide jurisdiction exercised by the courts in matters of public interest transgresses the traditional doctrine of separation of powers. They hold the view that the role of a judge is only to interpret and declare the law and not make it. One of the possible reasons why there is this conception about the role of the judiciary was highlighted by Mr. Justice Michel Kirby from Australia, thus:

 The judges and the legal profession have … been less than fully frank about the brilliant interaction which our system of law permits between the stable, unelected, continuing elements of government (in the court…...) and the democratic, creative but sometimes timorous and often unreliable elements of the temporary changing scene of political government (represented in Parliament and in the ministry). Out of the Interaction between these branches of Government one hopes that a harmony will emerge. Ordinarily it does. 

It is a balancing act that all three instrumentalities of a State have to play in order to see that they do not ‘unduly’ transgress on each other’s domain. I use the word ‘unduly’, because the Constitution of India provides for a system of check sand balances, not strict separation of powers, so that each organ can to an extent enter the domain of the other.  The topic chosen, namely,- Dimensions of Judicial Activism- is in fact one such occasion when the judiciary steps out from its normal interpretative role.

 Simply put, judicial activism depicts the pro-active role played by the judiciary in ensuring that rights and liberties of citizens are protected. Through judicial activism, the court moves beyond its normal role of a mere adjudicator of disputes and becomes a player in the system of the country, laying down principles and guidelines that the executive must carry out. In performing its activist role the court is required to display fine balancing skills. While protecting the fundamental human rights of the people, the judiciary must take care to ensure that its orders are capable of execution, for no amount of judicial activism is useful if its orders are incapable of execution; they then remain “paper tigers” only. This places an awesome responsibility on the court, which must ensure that its directions are effective. Admittedly, while it is difficult to draw the line, one thing is certain- the court must not appear to be speaking for effect only.  Unless the court is sure that its order is capable of being enforced, both in letter and spirit, it should be slow in passing such an order; for if it does so, it will appear to be speaking for effect and publicity only. If it passes orders that only attract media attention but are otherwise incapable of execution, they will be ineffective and in the long run will harm the court’s credibility, reputation and image. Certain flashy orders which are against the establishment do make headlines and with the media blowing them up also draw instant applause, but if they cannot be carried to their logical end, they end up  causing embarrassment. In the past, the Indian Supreme Court has at times had to face the embarrassment of its orders and directions not being implemented in a few cases. There are cases where the implementing authorities have pleaded their inability to enforce the court’s order on account of various difficulties faced at the ground level. This may give rise to a perception amongst certain sections of the people that the court is becoming a paper tiger, prone to emitting moralising roars, to which a deaf ear can be turned with impunity on account of their inherently unenforceable nature.

 But the vitality of law as a living organism largely depends on the judge’s ability to pour life into the law when the occasion demands by making new inroads in law. Common law could not have grown if judges had hesitated to enter the arena of judicial activism. Would judicial review of statute law have been possible if Chief Justice Marshall had in Malbury v Madison confined judiciary’s role to faithfully  interpreting the cold print of legislative enactment? Would the reach of Articles 14  and 21 of our Constitution have been what it is today if judges had not treated them expansible? No one can deny, with the changing social environment, the interpretation of Constitutional and legislative provisions must also change.  Homes says in ‘The Path of the Law’ (1920), ‘we do not realize how large a part of our law is open to reconsideration upon a slight change in the habit of the public mind.’ It is therefore obvious that judges at the higher levels cannot afford to adopt a strict interpretationist approach. If that be so, the question is whether the judge’s exuberance can be allowed to wander like an unbridled horse? This question is often being asked in hushed voices in different quarters since High Courts and more particularly our Supreme Court judges are seen to be very prodigious. Lord Radcliffe in ‘The Law and its Compass’ (1960) while leaning towards judicial creativity, pertinently inquired, ‘Can an enlightened conception of  "public policy" provide what we want, a scale of measurement?' This has always to be kept in mind by the judiciary.

The most important quality of law in a free society is its power to command respect, acceptance  and support from the community. This quality, which has been called ‘the power of legitimacy’, is attached to those commands of established organs of government that are perceived as flowing from the lawful exercise of their functions. In engaging in constitutional adjudication, the Supreme Court thwarts powerful interests, arouses the deepest of political emotions, often runs against the executive, sets aside the will of the Legislature if found to be inconsistent with the Constitution, and also issues dictates to the two wings of government. Not being armed by either the purse or the sword, the court is uniquely dependent upon the power of legitimacy of the compliance of its orders. Therefore, to ensure the continuance of this legitimacy, the court should issue directions only after assessing the ground realities and analysing the prospects of their being successfully implemented. Only orders that are judicially manageable ought to be passed so that their execution is guaranteed. It, therefore, becomes necessary to inform the populace about the extremely delicate nature of the judicial function. This would necessitate creating awareness among politicians, public servants, and citizens and also require improvement of the techniques by which law-principle and policy-are constantly reviewed and refreshed in the courts. It would also mean greater candour within the legal profession and amongst us about the judicial function involved.

 One of the most important features required for judicial activism, especially when tackling problems that require a shake up of the State and central administrative machinery, is the court’s fearlessness when issuing commands to the government.  For example, in the field of criminal law the judicial process has to be very sensitive. Life and liberty are great values and when violated by State officials or other political heavyweights, the court must have the strength, courage and determination to intervene. Judges must never forget that in democracy it is the rule of law that governs the State and they, as judges, are the inherent defenders of the rule of law.

The Indian Supreme Court is widely known for  its thrust towards judicial activism. However, at the same time, it should always be conscious about the range of its powers and should generally be seen to exercise them with restraint within the constitutional parameters without unduly treading onto the path of the executive and the legislature.  Though, in recent times, there have been complaints that the judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular has taken over the administration of the country by entering into the domain of the executive, I, having been a part of the judiciary, can safely say that except in a few stray cases, the court has only intervened when it has  found executive action wanting.

Before getting into the thrust of my discussion on the role of judicial activism played by the Indian Supreme Court, I would like to dwell on the experiences of the judiciary in the United States and in Britain, both having played a major role in the development of the judicial process the world over.

THE U S EXPERIENCE

The Supreme Court of the United States of America is the oldest Constitutional Court in the world, having first assembled on 1. 2. 1790. At a very early stage of its existence, in 1803, it bestowed upon itself the power of judicial review through the epoch-making decision in the case of Marbury v. Madison. In what is now considered a classic exposition of the law, Chief Justice Marshall, then stated:

It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule… A law repugnant to the Constitution is void; … Courts as well as other departments are bound by that instrument.

 Judicial review has come to be defined as the power of a court to hold unconstitutional and hence unenforceable any law, any official action, or ay other executive action  by a public official that it finds to be in conflict with the basic law, that is, the Constitution. Several jurists, including former Chief Justice Warren Burger, believe that without the power of judicial review and a Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution could not have survived. It is the concept of judicial review that has contributed, in a large measure, to the dynamic attitude of American judges.

 Since its very inception, charges have been leveled at the U S  Supreme Court that its judges continuously indulge in judicial legislation. In his classic text- 'The Nature of the Judicial Process' -Benjamin Cardozo, who later served on the Supreme Court, accepted the fact that judges do make law. However, he stated:

He (the judge) legislates only between gaps. He fills the open spaces in the law. How far he may go without traveling beyond the walls of the interstices cannot be staked out for him on a chart. He must learn it for himself as he gains the sense of fitness and proportion that comes with years of habitude in the performance of an art.

  The U S  Supreme Court played a prominent role in shaping American society and at times even interpreted the provisions of the Constitution to lead governmental policy in a manner which was diametrically opposite to the majority public opinion of the time. In so upholding the Constitution, the court has to withstand the stiffest of oppositions. Two illustrations may be cited here. In the 1930’s, President F D Roosevelt initiated a legislative package called The New Deal. The measure was people-oriented and had a socialistic flavour. The Supreme Court, by repeatedly holding in favour  of the right to property, struck down several of these legislations. This led to an uproar, but the orders of  the court were enforced. President Roosevelt then resorted to the extreme measure of attempting to increase the strength of the court to enable him to pack it with his nominees but, had to retreat when the Senate refused to endorse the measure. In the end, the retirement of several judges allowed President Roosevelt to appoint his nominees to the court and finally implement his programme. Again, between 1953  and 1969, under the stewardship of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the court pronounced a number of stirring decisions, which upheld the civil liberties of minorities and disadvantaged sections, and expanded their rights in an unparalleled manner. This included the famous decision in Brown v. Board of Education  which attracted the ire of the white majority when it held unconstitutional racial segregation in public education:

It is not easy to stand aloof and allow want of wisdom to prevail, to disregard one’s own strongly held view of what is wise in the conduct of affairs. But it is not the business of this Court to pronounce policy. It must observe a fastidious regard for limitations on its own power, and this precludes the Court’s giving effect to its own notions of what is wise or politic. That self-restraint is of the essence in the observation of the judicial oath, for the Constitution has not authorized the justices to sit in judgment on the wisdom of what Congress and the executive branch do.

In the language of the present generation of commentators of the U S judicial process, judicial self-restraint is a term of praise, and judicial activism a term of criticism.

THE POSITION IN BRITAIN 

In Britain, the governing rule for the nature of the judicial process, for a long time, was, as expressed by Sir Francis Bacon in the early 17th century:  'Judges ought to remember that their office is … to interpret law, and not to make law.' 

This judicial tradition, established by Jeremy Bantam, who had a deep distrust of judge-made law, stated that it is undemocratic for the non-elected judiciary to act as law-makers; this function should be the prerogative of the Queen’s ministers and the elected members in Parliament. 

Being steeped in this tradition, English judges developed an excessive liking for their constitutionally imposed chains. In their eagerness to avoid the blasphemy of judicial legislation, they proceeded to bind themselves in heavier chains of their own making. This led to the adoption, by the judiciary, of the rule of strict literal interpretation of the “plain and unambiguous” words of statutes, disregarding the fact that in real life words rarely are plain and unambiguous. This led to a number of absurd and inequitable results. 

However, since the early sixties, a new generation of English judges, spearheaded by the likes of Lord Reid, Lord Denning and Lord Wilberforce, with their doctrine of ‘purposive interpretation’ breathed new life into English Administrative Law, reviving and extending ancient principles of natural justice and fairness, applying them to public authorities and to private bodies exercising public power, and rejecting claims of unfettered administrative discretion. 

In his famous lecture (1972) on the judge as law-maker, Lord Reid, observed: 

There was a time when it was thought almost indecent to suggest that judges make law-they only declare it. Those with a taste for fairy tales seem to have thought that in some Aladdin’s cave there is hidden the Common Law in all its splendour and that on a judge’s appointment there descends on him knowledge of the magic words Open Sesame. Bad decisions are given when the judge muddles the password and the wrong door opens. But we do not believe in fairy tales any more. 

This new role of English judges was, predictably, met with fierce criticism and, inevitably, there were cases where the judiciary seemed to have overextended itself. However, efforts were undertaken by the judiciary itself to restrain its actions. In the same lecture, Lord Reid observed that when judges act as law-makers, they should ‘have regard to common sense, legal principles and public policy in that order’. He said, they need: 

To know how ordinary people … think and live …. You must have mixed with all kinds of people and got to know them … If we are to remain a democratic people those who try to be guided by public opinion must go to the grass roots. 

However, in the absence of a written Constitution and a Bill of Rights, the scope of the power of judicial review of English courts remains limited. In fact, even under the recent law dealing with human rights, the English courts have jurisdiction to declare any statute as not compatible with human rights but it has no power to strike it down; it is then left to the Parliament to correct the aberration in law to make it compatible. But if it decides otherwise, the court has to accept the view of the Parliament. 

THE INDIAN EXPERIENCE 

The initial years of the Supreme Court of  India saw the adoption of an approach characterised by caution and circumspection. Being steeped in the British tradition of limited judicial review, the court generally adopted a pro-legislature stance. This is evident from its rulings in case of A. K. Gopalan v. state of Madras (1950 SCR 88)  where the Supreme Court was called upon to consider adopting the procedural part of the American concept of due process and insist that no persons should be deprived of his life and personal  liberty. Justice Das, in his separate but concurrent judgment, stated as under: 

I find several insuperable objections to the introduction of the American Doctrine of procedural due process of law into our Constitution. That doctrine can only thrive and work where the legislature is subordinate to the judiciary in the sense that the latter can sit in judgment over and review all acts of the legislature. Such a doctrine can have no application to a field where the legislature is supreme1. …. Although our Constitution has imposed some limitations on the legislative authorities, yet subject to and outside such limitations our Constitution has left our Parliament and the State Legislature supreme in their respective legislative fields. In the main, subject to limitations …. our Constitution has preferred the supremacy of the Legislature to that of the Judiciary.2 

(Notice the sharp contrast from the US court’s approach in 1803 of Chief Justice Marshall). 

However, the judges of the Supreme Court did not take long to make their presence felt and began to actively pursue their functions assigned to them by the Constitution. This approach led to a series of decisions scuttling reformative legislation on the ground that the law interfered with the fundamental right to hold property. The nation was then witness to a series of events where a decision of the Supreme Court was followed by a legislation nullifying its effect, followed by yet another decision reaffirming the earlier position, and so on. The struggle between the two wings continued and, in fact, it was during this time that the Supreme Court, while interpreting Article 388 of the Constitution empowering Parliament to amend the Constitution, made its landmark judgment in Keshavnanda Bharti case (AIR 1973 SC 1461) holding  that the basic structure of the Constitution was not amendable, not even by a legislation of the Parliament. During this era, the Legislature sought to bring forth people-oriented socialistic measures which, when in conflict with fundamental rights, particularly the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property, were frustrated on the upholding of the challenge based on fundamental rights by the Supreme Court. This led the then prime minister to describe court judgments as roadblocks to reforms. 

The imposition of the Emergency in 1975 and the consequent suspension of fundamental rights had a profound effect on almost every aspect of Indian life. The Supreme Court too was affected and was at the receiving end of brickbats for having delivered judgments that were perceived by many as being violative of the basic human rights of Indian citizens. In the post-Emergency era, the apex court, sensitised by the perpetration of large-scale atrocities during the Emergency, once again donned an activist mantle. In a series of decisions, starting with Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (AIR 1978 SC 597) the court widened the ambit of constitutional provisions to enforce the human rightof citizens and sought to bring the Indian law in conformity with the global trends in human-rights jurisprudence. In 1979 by an amendment of the Constitution the right to property was omitted and introduced in Article 300A, thus ceasing to be a fundamental right. During the 1980’s and the early 90’s, the court moved beyond being a mere legal institution; its decisions had tremendous social, political and economic ramifications. Time and again, it interpreted Constitutional provisions and directed the Executive to comply with the objective sought to be achieved by the Constitution. Simultaneously, it introduced procedural innovations with a view to making itself more accessible to disadvantaged sections of society giving rise to the phenomenon of Social Action Litigation or Public Interest Litigation. 

Public Interest Litigation is important, because both in theory and in practice, litigation in the realm of private law and public law is qualitatively different. Of the many differences, the first is that for resolving a private law controversy the court ensures that a person who invokes its jurisdiction has sufficient interest, locus standi, in the subject-matter of the litigation. All those who do not have an independent legal right to claim the remedy are excluded. On the other hand, in public law litigation, the locus standi rule  is waived; an illegal act of commission or omission of a public authority, directed against those who on account of economic constraints or illiteracy cannot knock at the doors of justice, is viewed as potentially applicable to a class or group insofar as its consequences are concerned. The assumption is that the potential litigants, large in numbers, have an almost similar stake in the outcome of the lawsuit pending before the court, its effect is not only in present  but also futuristic, though only those actually adversely affected by it will be directly affected by the decision. 

The second difference is that private law litigation is primarily concerned with determining specific questions of fact and law. Public law litigation, however,  embraces wider questions of policy, both substantive and remedial. The issues in the latter are drawn from a much larger social canvass. 

A third distinction is that in private law litigation, the adversarial system of justice works and the task of collection of facts is generally left to the parties, with the judge adopting a passive role. In a public interest proceeding affecting the interests of numerous persons, the court takes an inquisitorial route to assist in collection of facts, ensures representation of potential litigants, and adopts a more active role to reach a just result. 

In fact, in India, it is Public Interest Litigants who have largely assisted the courts in playing a proactive role and have enabled the courts to go into various issues of exploitation of the poor and the needy, child education, environmental pollution, mass injuries, factory pollution, drinking water scarcity and the right to food and other basic needs, preservation of forests, health of women and children, workers’ safety in factories, consumer justice, etc. Public law jurisprudence necessitates the adoption of a different approach by the judiciary, while grappling with issues of public importance. The court looks to the provisions of the Constitution for guidance. Part IV of the Constitution, which contains the Directive Principles of State Policy, is of specific importance while dealing with public law litigation. Let me give an example. Article 37 of the Indian Constitution states that the principles enshrined in Part IV are fundamental for the governance of the country and the State is duty-bond to implement them. In practice, however sufficient effort has not been initiated to implement most of these principles. Article 45 is a case in point. It required the State to set up within ten years a system to provide free and compulsory education to all children below 14 years. After more than thirty years beyond the prescribed ten-year period, when the Supreme Court realised that this objective remained unfulfilled, it considered the right to education an element of the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 and directed its compliance. 

When dereliction of constitutional obligations and gross violations of human rights are brought to the notice of the court, it cannot be expected to indulge in hairsplitting in an effort to maintain the “delicate balance” of power between the different wings of government; it must act and act purposively and positively to provide relief, real and not illusory, to the parties who seek enforcement of their fundamental right. I am not for a moment suggesting that judges should disregard the boundary separating the legitimate development of the law by them from impermissible legislation. We must pay  heed to Justice Cardozo’s wise observation that the philosophy of common law has at its heart, the philosophy of pragmatism. It’s thrust is relative, not absolute. Judges must not throw to the winds the advantages of consistency and uniformity to do justice in the particular case. Cardozo, J. further states that justice, according to law means: 

The judge, even when he is free, is still not wholly free. He is not to innovate at pleasure. He is not a knight-errant roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness. He is to draw his inspiration from consecrated principles. He is not to yield to spasmodic sentiment, to vague and unregulated benevolence. He is to exercise discretion informed by tradition, methodized by analogy, disciplined by system, and subordinated to ‘the primordial necessity of order in the social life’. Wide enough in all conscience is the field of discretion that remains. 

In the conscientious exercise of that discretion by judges, lies the guarantee of the proper governance of the country as a democratic nature of equal citizens whose rights and freedoms are effectively protected by the rule of law. 

The judge’s task is particularly difficult in the field of public interest litigation. That is because in a large number of such cases the material is wanting and whatever little material is placed, is usually unfiltered. The entire proceeding tends to become inquisitorial in character with the judge, or judges, playing a pro-active, participatory role. The role of the judiciary is extremely delicate in such cases because it must not appear to be playing to the gallery or playing  a role which may be described as  partisan. Great care must be taken to ensure that while the judge or judges play a participatory role, they do not appear to be entering the arena or give the impression of bias to the opposite party. It must also be realised that the position  of the opposite party in such cases is precarious, in that, it has to meet with allegations, which are incomplete and often half-baked. In the absence of properly drawn up pleadings, it is always difficult to counter the charge levelled against the opposite party. Therefore, while in public interest litigations the opposite party is always at the receiving end, a fair chance to put forth its defence must be ensured to such a party, and the judge or judges hearing such cases, not give the impression that they have prejudged that issue. That is the caution which the judge or judges must administer unto himself/themselves and exercise; otherwise the proceedings will lose direction and will move in a rudderless or wayward manner. 

It is indeed true that, of late, many issues that can be described as socio-political or religio-political or eco-political are brought to court. Some of them do have far-reaching consequences and affect the social fabric of the nation. Courts have, while trying to steer clear of  areas falling within the political thickets, not hesitated to exercise jurisdiction in appropriate cases.  The courts have taken up causes of the poor, the underprivileged and the exploited, often acting on newspaper reports. I have already stated earlier that the Supreme Court has directed the executive to take steps towards environmental protection, rights of women and children, abolition of child labour in hazardous industries and several other socially desirable issues. 

JUSTICE TO VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE 

In the context of communal riots, particularly where there is State involvement through acts of commission or omission or deliberate failure of the police to protect the targeted groups, many people ask me why the judiciary does not take suo motu action against those whose utterances amount to penal offences even though such utterances are bound to vitiate the peace and tranquility of the country, when  otherwise in other comparatively minor situations the courts play a pro-active role and exercise jurisdiction. Why does the judiciary turn a Nelson’s eye to such utterance? Why is the judiciary slow in taking action against those identified by inquiry commissions for sparking and spreading violence through hate speeches, e. g. the Sri Krishna Commission? Frankly, such questions leave me benumbed. The systematic attacks on innocent citizens, be that by rioters or terrorist groups with a view to ethnic cleansing or marginalisation of vulnerable groups, need to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.  The activities of such forces cause grave concern to the concept of the rule of law. Unless they are put down with a strong hand this disease will spread threatening the very fabric of our democracy. Granted that courts decide only when there are actual cases, prompt action on the part of the judiciary in such cases would serve as a strong deterrent and would help control such behaviour in future. It is important to realise that a brooding sense of injustice in the minds of the victim groups can stir emotions for revenge. Prompt action by courts can calm such blood-boiling. If the victim group (s) can be heard and can reasonably hope to get justice from courts, particularly when the other two democratic organs have failed them, there would hardly be any motivation for revenge. Judiciary is the last hope; it must act impartially and fairly; it must also be so perceived; it must be just and must also be seen to be just; prompt action on its part to act firmly, fairly and with a sense of urgency for doing justice to the victims alone will enhance judicial credibility. If judges are perceived to be guardians of one group or clique, rather than be seen as dependable stewards of the legal order, the victim group (s)  will despair and lose faith in the system. If courts are not perceived as symbols of the law’s resoluteness, if judges exhibit despondency and susceptibility to threats or betray partisan behaviour that would only encourage militancy. It is therefore important that courts for the sake of their credibility act promptly and fairly and through the instrumentality of justice apply the healing touch to the wounds of victims of terror and hatred. It is all the more important that those who indulge in whipping up emotions through hate speeches amounting to penal offences under the laws of the country are immediately brought to book so that the venom does not spread. There can be no doubt that the judiciary should be in the forefront of humanity’s repudiation of such acts of terror perpetrated on certain segments of the citizenry. In fact, judges by their oath are obliged to do so. Courts should not hesitate to use their power to do justice to the victims of violence and thereby strike at the very roots of mischief-mongering. If we do not act now, our democracy will be eroded and eventually lost. I say this because if you were to cast your glance all over the globe you will not find a single country where genuine democracy has survived with a theocratic form of governance.  Beware, the Constitution will be reduced to a parchment, it may exist on paper but its soul and spirit will disappear. We must jointly make every endeavour to save the spirit of our Constitution and our democracy.  We can ill-afford to get swayed  by emotional outbursts or rhetoric. This is a great responsibility on the shoulders of the Indian judiciary which I hope it will discharge in the larger interest of democracy and the country. g


Justice A M  Ahmadi  is a former Chief Justice of India.