When the Executive Fails, Courts must Act - Supreme Court Justice BR Gavai

Justice Gavai emphasized how Indian courts step in when the government falls short. Judicial review ensures laws follow the constitution, safeguarding citizens' rights.

Indian judiciary has frequently demonstrated its proactive role in governance, especially when the executive branch fails to fulfill its obligations, as highlighted by Supreme Court Justice BR Gavai. He emphasized this during his lecture at Harvard Kennedy School, where he discussed the pivotal role of judicial review in shaping policy. Justice Gavai noted the evolution of constitutional mechanisms and legal principles by India's constitutional courts, particularly in response to inconsistencies in policy-making.

"Time and again, the demand for judicial interventions has been triggered by the constant incoherence in the realm of policy-making, as well as the need for developing and strengthening skills amongst the executive instrumentalities ... The judiciary in India has repeatedly demonstrated that our constitutional courts cannot sit with folded hands when the executive fails to perform its duties," he stated.

This acknowledgment underscores the judiciary's proactive stance in ensuring governance effectiveness, particularly when other branches falter. Judicial intervention often becomes imperative due to the shortcomings or inconsistencies in policy formulation and implementation by the executive.

Justice Gavai elucidated how the doctrine of judicial review empowers the judiciary to intervene and invalidate laws deemed unconstitutional. "In India, where the rule of law is paramount, judicial review remains a roadblock to any abuse of power by the legislature. The doctrine of judicial review acts as a strong fence between all the organs of the State. The concept of judicial review has played a vital role in shaping policy through legal jurisprudence. Over the years, the Court, through its interpretations, has acted as a bridge between the legislature’s power and the interests of the citizens," he articulated.

The power of judicial review serves as a fundamental mechanism for upholding the rule of law and preventing the misuse of legislative authority. By scrutinizing laws and executive actions, the judiciary ensures adherence to constitutional principles and safeguards citizens' rights and interests.

Justice Gavai's lecture underscored the judiciary's pivotal role in governance and policy formulation, particularly in democracies like India where the rule of law is sacrosanct. He emphasized that the judiciary acts as a guardian of constitutional values and ensures accountability and transparency in governance.

Furthermore, Justice Gavai highlighted the importance of judicial independence in facilitating effective judicial review. Judicial independence ensures that judges can make impartial decisions based on the law and constitution, without undue influence from other branches of government or external pressures.

The lecture at Harvard Kennedy School provided a platform to discuss the intersection of judicial review and policy-making, shedding light on how the judiciary shapes governance and ensures the protection of citizens' rights and freedoms.