Can courts stay laws made by legislature? – UPSC GS2

Context:
  • SC stay on 3 Farm laws.
How did the SC justify its order on farm laws?
  • The bench noted that the court is well within its powers to grant a stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment.
  • Thus, according to SC, it has banned only implementation of laws (an executive action) and not suspended the law itself (a legislative mandate).
  • But, the effect of both is same.
  • Precedent:
    • Order by SC in Maratha Reservation case. Reservation suspended. Matter referred to Constitutional Bench.
Is it expansion of domain of Judicial Review?
  • Judicial Review is the power of Courts to pronounce upon the constitutionality of legislative and executive acts of the government which fall within their normal jurisdiction.
  • The scope of judicial review before Indian courts has emerged in three dimensions
    1. to establish fairness in administrative action,
    2. to protect the guaranteed constitutional fundamental rights and
    3. to rule on questions of legislative competence between the centre and the states.
  • However, interim orders staying or suspending laws enacted by the legislature are not accepted well by constitutional courts and legal scholars.
  • The general argument is that unless there are well-established reasons such as flagrant lack of constitutional validity, or absence of legislative competence, a law ought not to be stayed.
Is it violation of Separation of Power?
  • By suspending a law, the judiciary is upsetting the concept of separation of powers.
  • Courts are expected to keep good faith in the legislature‚Äôs wisdom.
Precedents against staying Laws?
  • In 1984, the Supreme court set aside an interim stay granted against the operation of a municipal tax (Siliguri Municipality & Others vs Amalendu Das & Others).
  • In 2013, the Supreme Court chose to withdraw the stay on some provisions of and regulations under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.
  • Supreme Court criticized some High Courts for issuing stay orders while upholding the validity of Section 45S of the Reserve Bank of India Act, which imposed restrictions on unincorporated bodies accepting public deposits.

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