The author has explained the meaning of the term “Judicial Review” in India. For analysis, the author also used various legal provisions and judicial precedents.
The Constitution of India vested the Judiciary with the duty to interpret and uphold the Constitution. It gives an inherent power to adjudge the constitutionality of the legislative and executive actions. This is known as the Doctrine of Judicial Review. Judicial review is the reason for the maintenance of check and balance in governance. Therefore, the Judiciary is called the Guardian of the Constitution.
Judicial review is a process that gives the Judiciary the power to review the actions of the Legislature and Executive. Black’s Law Dictionary defines Judicial review as “a court’s power to review the actions of other branches or levels of government; especially the court’s power to invalidate legislative and executive actions as being unconstitutional”.
This doctrine originated in the United States of America. Marbury v. Madison was the first case to introduce this doctrine.
Power of Judicial Review
- Law is defined under Article 13(3) of the Constitution. Everything included under the same shall be subjected to judicial review.
- The power of the judiciary is not only limited to Supreme Court but also High Court. However, the decision of the High court can be reviewed by the Supreme court.
- Even the 9th Schedule of the Constitution is subjected to judicial review if they violate the basic structure of the Constitution. This was mentioned in the case of I.R. Coelho (Dead) By Lrs v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors.
- Judiciary cannot review the actions of the legislature or executive or the inferior courts on its own. Only when the actions of the above-mentioned organs are challenged before it, they can review it. This can be done through Article 32, Article 226, or Article 136 of the Constitution.
- Only questions of law are subjected to judicial review.
- When the court declares a law unconstitutional, they have to give justification for the same.
Landmark cases on Judicial Review in India
- In Shankari Prasad v. Union of India, the petitioner challenged the constitutionality of the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951. The court held that amendments made under Article 368 cannot fall under the ambit of law under Article 13(3) of the Constitution. Hence, they found the first amendment Act, 1951 constitutionally valid.
- In the case of Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan, the constitutionality of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964 was challenged. The court upheld the decision of Shankari Prasad v. Union of India.
- In A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, the court held that judicial review should follow the principle of “procedure established by law”.
- In 1967, the Supreme Court in the case of I.C. Golak Nath And Ors. vs State Of Punjab And Anr. overruled the Shankari Prasad case and Sajjan Singh case. This judgment emphasized that amendments made under Article 368 fall under the ambit of law under Article 13 of the Constitution.
- In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, the court overruled the Golak Nath case and held that Parliament cannot amend the basic structure of the Constitution using its power under Article 368.
- In Minerva Mills v. Union of India, the court held that judicial review is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution
- The Supreme Court in the case of I.R. Coelho (Dead) By Lrs v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors., held that laws added to the 9th Schedule of the Constitution by amendments after 24th April 1973 can be amended if it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
Judiciary is an independent organ that acts as the protector of the Constitution. Judicial review is an important feature in India as it keeps the actions of legislature and executive in check. Without judicial review, no organ of the government could function properly. Constitution is the supreme law of the land and the judiciary being the protector of the same shall make sure that no other organs go against it.