2023 GS2 Answer

Q.  “Constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy.” Comment.

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS2 Paper

Model Answer: 

Judicial Independence

Judicial independence is the concept that the judiciary should be independent from the other branches of government, namely the executive and the legislative. This is an essential element of a functioning democracy, as it ensures that the judiciary can perform its role of upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of individuals without interference or influence from the other branches of government. In India, the Constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary, making it a key pillar of the democratic system.

The Structure of the Judiciary

The structure of the judiciary in India is designed in such a way as to ensure its independence. The Constitution provides for a single integrated system of courts to administer both Union and State laws, with the Supreme Court at the apex. The High Courts and the lower courts function under the Supreme Court, which has the power of judicial review and can declare laws passed by the Parliament or the State Legislatures as unconstitutional.

Appointment and Removal of Judges

The process of appointment and removal of judges in India also ensures the independence of the judiciary. The judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts are appointed by the President, who acts on the advice of the Chief Justice of India and other senior judges. This ensures that the appointment of judges is not influenced by the executive or the legislative. Similarly, the removal of a judge can only be done through a process of impeachment by the Parliament, which requires a two-thirds majority.

Security of Tenure

The Constitution guarantees security of tenure to the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. They can hold office until they attain the age of 65 years and 62 years respectively. This ensures that they are not under any pressure to act in a particular way due to fear of removal.

Prohibition of Practice After Retirement

The Constitution prohibits judges of the Supreme Court from pleading or acting in any court or before any authority within the territory of India after their retirement. This provision ensures that they do not have any vested interests that could potentially influence their decisions while in office.

Financial Independence

The salaries, allowances, and pensions of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India, which is not subject to vote in the Parliament. This ensures their financial independence.

Power to Punish for Contempt

The Supreme Court and the High Courts have the power to punish for their contempt. This power is essential for maintaining the dignity and authority of the courts.

Separation of Powers

The principle of separation of powers is enshrined in the Constitution, which provides for a clear demarcation of functions among the three branches of government. This principle ensures that the judiciary is not subject to interference from the executive or the legislative.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Constitution of India provides for a robust framework to ensure the independence of the judiciary, which is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. This independence allows the judiciary to act as the guardian of the Constitution and the fundamental rights of individuals, and to check any misuse of power by the executive or the legislative. However, it is also important for the judiciary to exercise its powers judiciously and in a manner that upholds the trust and confidence of the public.

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