Author: Priyanka Gupta, Legal Associate at Judicious Law Associates, Delhi High Court
The Indian Judiciary is continuation of the British legal system established by the British based on a typical hybrid legal system known as the Common Law System, where customs, precedents and legislative are all components of the law. The Constitution of India is the supreme legal document of the country. There are various levels of judiciary in India; different types of courts, each with conferred powers depending on the tier and jurisdiction conferred upon them. They form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts. Supreme Court of India followed by High Courts of respective states with district judges sitting in District Courts and Magistrates of Second Class and Civil Judge (Junior Division) at the bottom. Courts deals with the criminal and civil cases including disputes between individuals and the government. The Indian judiciary is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government according to the Constitution.
The framers of the Indian Constitution were concerned about the kind of judiciary our country should have. This concern of the members of the constituent assembly was responded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the following words:
“There can be no difference of opinion in the House that our judiciary must be both independent of the executive and must also be competent in itself. And the question is how these two objects can be secured’’.
The first question that arises is why did the makers of our constitution care so much about establishing a separate body for the court and ensuring its competence? The answer to this question resides in the framers’ core idea that such a society could only be built by guaranteeing fundamental rights and the judiciary’s independence to protect and enforce those fundamental rights. In a country like India, the judiciary’s independence is critical in sustaining the democratic system’s pillars and ensuring a free society. It is common knowledge that the judiciary’s independence is a necessary condition for a free and fair society. good governance can be achieved by the rule of law of the country through unbiased judiciary.
The Doctrine of Separation of Powers which was brought into existence to draw upon the boundaries for the functioning of all the three organs of the state: Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, provide a responsibility to the judiciary to act as a watchdog and to check whether the executive and the legislature are functioning within their limits under the constitution and not interfering in each others functioning. This task given to the judiciary to supervise the doctrine of separation of powers cannot be carried on in true spirit if the judiciary is not independent in itself. An independent judiciary supports the base of doctrine of separation of powers to a large extent.
The major task lies in creating a favourable environment for the functioning of the judiciary in which all the other state organs functions in cooperation so that the independence of the judiciary can be achieved practically. The independence of the judiciary has also to be guarded against the changing economic, political and social scenario. Whenever there is a talk regarding the independence of the judiciary, there is also a talk of the restrictions that must be imposed on the judiciary as an institution as well as on judges that forms a part of the judiciary. In order to ensure smooth functioning of the system there must be a right blend of the two.