Judici l Activism
Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Matoo, Nitish Katara and Delhi’s sealing has one thing in common… yes… that is huge public and media support and the so-called “Judicial Activism”. Judicial activism is not a strange term in India. Earlier it was popular among the people who were directly or indirectly related to judicial system but now, because of above-mentioned cases, the term has gained a new recognition.
Like many catchwords, "judicial activism" has acquired so many different meanings as to obscure more than what it reveals. Yet it is not a term that can simply be ignored as intellectually "void for vagueness," for at the heart of it are concerns about the very meaning and survival of law. Abandonment of the term not being a viable option, clarification becomes imperative.
Meaning of Judicial Activism
The terms "judicial restraint" and "judicial activism" describe how a judge judges, that is, how he applies the law to facts in the cases before him. The difference is that restrained judges take the law as it is and activist judges make up the law as they go along. Restrained judges respect the political process, whether they agree with its results or not, until it clearly crosses a clear constitutional line. Activist judges feel free to re-write statutes or the Constitution, to use extra-legal factors in their decisions, to ignore limits on their power in the search for desirable results.
Undoubtedly, it is only because of the sustained campaign by the media — print and electronic — that the Delhi High Court had reopened the Priyadarshini Matoo case and finally awarded death sentence to Santosh Kumar Singh. Had the media failed to pick up the travesty of justice, the accused, who was acquitted earlier by the trial court, would have roamed about freely today. The same happened with the Jessica Lal murder case. There is a general impression that in this case, too, justice will prevail at last.
Many of Supreme Court judges said that judges...