The role assigned to the judiciary by the Constitution is to provide checks and balances within the system and it cannot perform the role of elected governments, Supreme Court judge justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said on Saturday, underscoring the importance of courts and the executive remaining within their spheres of functioning.
The judge said that courts are increasingly being asked to decide on political matters that are brought before it under the guise of public interest litigations and they often face criticism due to the handling of such cases.
“But I do believe that we have adopted a Constitution where we have an elected government in power. Segregation of powers requires judiciary to perform its role and executive to perform its role. Courts cannot be unelected governments. They provide check and balance,” justice Kaul, who was delivering the keynote address at a webinar organised by non-governmental organisation CAN Foundation on the topic “Dissents that made a difference: India & Abroad” said.
The courts, he maintained, have their limitations and have not been tasked with the responsibility of running the system.
“They (courts’ views) are inherently minoritarianism because the majority view is reflected by government in power. There are limitations to the judiciary. Judiciary has not been assigned the role of running the system but (a role) to put check and balance on the system,” justice Kaul added.
The judge pointed out that there is a “shrill discourse” today surrounding political cases and the courts bear the brunt of the attack.
“It (courts) honestly face criticism today on how far it should go. Some say courts go too far while others say it is not going far enough. But I think the separation of powers must be kept in the mind on this issue,” he said.
Justice Kaul said that the system offers space for dissent – for the political system it is in Parliament and on the streets, while for the judiciary it is through dissenting judgments.
However, he highlighted the importance of examining courts’ judgments in the backdrop of the period in which they are delivered and called for a constructive approach while examining or criticising the judgments. “Dissent will continue to have importance in every field including the judiciary. While judging the role of the judiciary, and dissent among judges, there must be a constructive approach,” he said.