Role of Judiciary

“It is undeniable that the Supreme Court’s role as the Constitution’s sheet anchor has been weakened in recent times.” Why has it happened? What are the solutions proposed to restore Supreme Court’s original responsibilities and what are their merits? Discuss. (200 Words)
Supreme Court is mandated with original jurisdiction of issues of constitutional matters, disputed between centre and states. But its role in this regard has overtaken by its involvement in various issues like appeals which are not of public importance. This can be seen from the fact the cases decided by constitution benches (>5 Judges) has come down from 15% to 0.12 since independence.
Supreme Court’s role as the Constitution’s sheet anchor has been weakened in recent times due to following reasons:
  1. The use of exceptional Special leave petition (SLPs) under A 136 even for mundane matters.
  2. Entertaining Public Interest Litigation (PILs) on petty matters, which are meant only for public cause and not individual reasons.
  3. Inability of lower judiciary and the various high courts to arbitrate effectively on matters which does not require Supreme Court’s need.
  4. Judicial Activism: court judgements in jurisdiction of executive and legislature leading to diversion of Supreme Court’s resources.
  1. Empowering lower judiciary and High Court as problems is mainly related to poor infrastructure rather than structural, thus allowing Supreme Court to focus on its original jurisdiction. (3 crore cases pending)
  2. National Court of Appeal can be considered to supplement reforms but it cannot be an isolated solution as discretion will still remain with Supreme Court Judges to respond to appeals.
  3. Exceptional use of A 136 for SLP as it was meant to be used rarely.
  4. Cautious approach while choosing over PILs, and avoiding its abuse and overuse as recently pointed out by Supreme Court.
  5. Alternative Justice Systems like Lokadalats need to be regularly held to lessen burden on lower judiciary.
  6. Judge to 1 million population ratio: need to be increased from present 13 to higher levels above 30. Developed countries have this ratio at as high as 50.

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