In this article, we will discuss Meaning of Judicial Review. So, let’s get started.
Meaning of Judicial Review
Judicial review is the power of the judiciary to examine the constitutionality of legislative
enactments and executive orders of both the Central and State governments. On examination, if they are found to be violative of the Constitution (ultra vires), they can be declared as illegal, unconstitutional and invalid (nulland void) by the judiciary. Consequently, they cannot be enforced by the Government.
Justice Syed Shah Mohamed Quadri has classified the judicial review into the following three categories:
Judicial review of legislation of the Parliament and State Legislatures and subordirate legislations.
Judicial review of administrative action of the Union and State and authorities under the state.
The Supreme Court used the power of judicial review in various cases, as for example, the Golaknath case (1967), the Bank Nationalisation case (1970), the Privy Purses Abolition case (1971), the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the Minerva Mills case (1980), and so on. In 2015, the Supreme Court declared both the 99″ Constitutional Amendment, 2014 and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 as unconstitutional and null and void.
Importance of Judicial Review
Judicial review is needed for the following reasons:
(a) To uphold the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution.
(b) To maintain federal equilibrium (balance between the Centre and the states).
(c) To protect the Fundamental Rights of the citizens.
In a number of cases, the Supreme Court has pointed out the significance of the power of judicial review in our country. Some of the observations made by it, in this regard, are given below:
In India it is the Constitution that is supreme and that a statute law to be valid, must be in conformity with the constitutional requirements and it is for the judiciary to decide whether any enactment is constitutional or not.
“Our constitution contains express provisions for judicial review of legislation as to its conformity with the constitution. This is especially true as regards the fundamental Rights, to which the court has been assigned the role of sentinel on the qui vive”.
“As long as some Fundamental Rights exist and are a part of the Constitution, the power of judicial review has also to be exercised with a view to see that the guarantees afforded by these Rights are not contravened”.
“The Constitution is supreme lex, the permanent law of the land, and there is no branch of government above it. Every organ of government, be it the executive or the legislature of the judiciary, derives its authority from the Constitution and it has to act within the limits of its authority. No one however highly placed and no authority howsoever lofty, can claim that it shall be the sole judge of the extent of its power under the Constitution or whether its action is within the confines of such power laid down by the constitution. This Court is the ultimate inter-
preter of the Constitution and to this Court is assigned the delicate task of determining what is the power conferred on each branch of government, whether it is limited, and if so, what are the limits and whether any action of that branch transgresses such limits”.
“It is the function of the Judges, may their duty, to pronounce upon the validity of laws. If courts are totally deprived of that power, the Fundamental Rights conferred on the people will become a more adornment because rights without remedies are as writ in water. A controlled Constitution will then become uncontrolled”.
“The judges of the Supreme Court have been entrusted with the task of upholding the Constitution and to this end, have been conferred the power to interpret it. It is they who have to ensure that the balance of power envisaged by the Constitution is maintained and that the legislature and the executive do not, in the discharge of their functions, transgrees constitutional limitations”.
The founding fathers very wisely, therefore, incorporated in the Constitution itself the provisions of judicial review so as to maintain the balance of federalism, to protect the Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Freedoms guaranteed to the citizens and to afford a useful weapon for availability, availment and enjoyment of equality, liberty and Fundamental Freedoms and to help to create a healthy nationaliam. The function of judicial review is a part of the constructional interpretation itself. It adjusts the Constitution to meet new conditions and needs of the time”.