Q. Explaining the importance of an independent judiciary, highlight the relevant Constitutional provisions that safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the Supreme Court.
The principle of judicial independence is a natural corollary of ‘Doctrine of separation of powers’ and is designed to protect the system of justice, thereby maintaining public trust and confidence in the judiciary. An independent judiciary is free from the influence or control of the legislature, the executive and the popular opinion.
Importance of an independent judiciary:
- Independent & impartial judiciary upholds the rule of law, which is indispensable for a democratic government,
- It acts as a watch dog and checks whether the executive and legislature are functioning properly without encroaching in each other’s domain.
- It maintains the supremacy of the Constitution by deciding disputes between the Centre and States or the states inter-se. As the final interpreter and the guardian of the Constitution, judiciary protects the rights of the individual and provides them equal justice without fear or favour.
Constitutional provisions that safeguard and ensure independent and impartial functioning of the Supreme Court in India are:
- Security of tenure: The judges of the Supreme Court can be removed from office by the President only in the manner and on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution.
- Appointment of judges of the Supreme Court: The Executive is required to consult Judges of the Supreme Court and High courts in the appointment of the Judges of the Supreme Court.
- Conditions of employment: The salaries and allowances of the judges of the Supreme Court are fixed by the Constitution and charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Powers of the Supreme Court: Parliament can extend, but cannot curtail the jurisdiction and power of the Supreme Court (Art. 138).
- Separation of judiciary from executive: Article 50 directs the State to take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.
- No discussion in Legislature on the conduct of the judges: According to Article 121 neither in Parliament nor in a State Legislature a discussion can take place with respect to the conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court in discharge of his duties except during the impeachment process.
- Power to punish for its contempt: The Supreme Court has the power to punish any person for its contempt (Article 129).
- Prohibition on practice after retirement: Article 124 prohibit retired judges of the Supreme Court to appear and plead in any court or before any authority within the territory of India. Independent judiciary is a lynchpin for a country like India and acts as a final vanguard for establishing constitutional supremacy & ensuring social, economic & political justice for all the citizens of the country.