The above-quoted phrase have the right to be uncovered emblazoned across facebook profiles and also instagram pages of many an enthusiastic legislation student spring to invest their careers fighting the an excellent fight, on the side of the voiceless and also powerless “little guy”, against the evil and malicious pressures that seek to exploit and oppress. To those of us no much longer conversant in the language the the ancient Romans, the phrase can be about translated as, “let justice be excellent though the heavens fall.

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” On first glance, this seems prefer a perfect attractive little bit of rhetoric the may even qualify as a main point tenet of legitimate philosophy. No one desires to live in one unjust world; for this reason it is only herbal for a citizens of a just society to mean justice to be dispensed come all, regardless of the cost. Indeed, the maxim could seem to most nothing an ext than a straightforward and concise statement of pure logic, universal, incontrovertible and also absolute. However, when we think of the serious price of justice in some circumstances, specific cosmic tumult, we must put come ourselves three concerns to ensure that the disturbance that the celestial status quo was not in vain, these questions are-

1. What carry out we mean by “justice”?

2. To whom must justice be done?

3. Who must be charged v the duty to carry out justice?

It is once we are confronted with these 3 questions, i m sorry essentially make up an elemental malfunction of the oft-quoted Latin maxim, the we see the fallacy lie within. The phrase is, in fact, a mere servant of the ethical compass that the person who wake up to be using it, often to justification his or her very own actions. What one thinks is just, does no necessarily come in consonance with another’s idea of justice. The question of what is just and also what is unjust, must inevitably come down to morality.

It is also often the case that ~ above justice being done to one party come a dispute, the exact same is refuse to the various other party, at the very least in the eye of the latter. Challenged with together a conundrum, one might rightly argue that it will never ever be feasible to please all political parties to a dispute, and the attempts to dispense justice cannot be frustrated by the fact that who would constantly be handed the shorter end that the pole in a dispute. Hence, it should come under to the human being looking to do justice, to decide if justice, as a whole, has actually been done.

Resultantly, the inquiry of even if it is a simply outcome is got to in a dispute, have to be answered by the entity/authority/person entrusted with the dispensation the the same, and, consequent to the aforementioned nature that justice, his/her morality. That is his/her morality, then, that is that paramount prestige to the facility of a just society. It can, thus, be viewed that amongst the three inquiries framed above, the most crucial one that requirements to it is in answered is not the first, no one the second, yet the third.

Who should, then, it is in charged with the duty to do justice? The answer springs come mind immediately, and seems positively banal. It is the judge or the Court that law, surely. Besides, the most an elderly Judges also have words “Justice” prefixed to your names. However, in the humble and also unqualified opinion that this author, this commonplace answer is incorrect. Justice has been, and also must always be dispensed by the cool old edifice the the law,² ever shifting, ever morphing and ever transforming under the affect of all three branches the government. Justice must not be subjected to the whims and fancies of any type of one entity, yet must dispensed together per the letter that the law. Note that, this does not typical morality has actually no location in the governance of society, ~ above the contrary, the law must have its communication in some kind of morality, a principle Lon Fuller dubbed “the inner morality the law”.³ However, when such law is framed, it need to be the body that dispenses justice. In a constitutionally limited kind of government, as we own in India, the duty of every branch of federal government in framing the regulation is clearly delineated, and also such delineations should be adhered come by each together branch. However, i feel that, in recent times, one branch has forayed, an ext than any type of other, right into the domain of others. This errant branch of government, seemingly violating the Montesquieuan principles of separation of powers, is the righteousness branch. Together a an outcome of that is attempts come escape the boundaries of the powers allotted come it, what comprises righteousness is now much more and an ext dependent top top the morality of the justice branch, and this in itself is a danger to the procedure of dispensation that justice. To assistance this proposition, ns must sophisticated upon the debate worrying the duty of the justice branch in ~ constitutional government, and how failure of the judicial restraint movement in India poses a hazard to the procedure of dispensation that justice.

Holmes, Hand and also the duty of the judicial Branch

It could not surprised you to understand that over there is no concrete and also universal consensus among legal thinkers (judges, practitioners and academics included) in relation to the inquiry pertaining come the role of the judicial branch in a constitutionally limited kind of government. Though over there are, in truth, numerous views top top the subject, the two key schools that thought have the right to be succinctly encapsulated in a story that a verbal exchange between two 20th century titans the American legal thought, referee Learned Hand and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.⁴The story has been told and re-told because that decades, and also even though Hand’s very own account of the survives,⁵ over there exists no authoritative version of it. The story takes place somewhere close to the Capitol in Washington D.C. Where Holmes and also Hand, after having had actually lunch together, are around to go their different ways. Holmes gets in his carriage and is about to drive off, when Hand, in order come provoke a parting response from his mentor and also friend, exclaims, “Do justice, sir, carry out justice!” Holmes, avoiding the carriage, retorts, “That is not my job. It is my project to apply the law.” This short intercourse v Holmes left an indelible note on Hand, who, favor Holmes,⁶ became a staunch proponent of the doctrine of righteousness restraint during his time top top the bench.⁷

Though both interlocutors were efficiently on the very same side that the debate when judged by their legacies, throughout that exchange, they represented the two great factions of thought that seek to work out what duty Judges and the Courts need to play in the grand scheme of government. Top top the one hand to be judicial activists, those who assumed that the Courts as soon as adjudicating problems must have enough regard for the an effect of their decision in the sociological and also economic spheres of life, and the decisions must have their basis in morality. The advocates of this see sought to do justice over all else.To lock the welfare of the citizenry to be as much the judiciary’s concern as it was the legislative and executive branches’. ~ above the various other side of the jurisprudential battle-field were the scholar advocating justice restraint, in that they felt the Judges must just follow the letter the the law and come to the conclusion the the legislation leads lock to. They thought that a good Judge need to decide a case prior to him/her without any type of consideration as to what the moral impact of the decision would certainly be. Lock conceded thatthis course of action would undoubtedly lead to part flagrantly ‘unjust’ outcomes, but all in all, limiting the discretion exercisable through Judges, that were after all unelected and also not representative the the populace, would result in a healthy and much more resilient government. Justice Holmes took his conception of judicial restraintto such an extreme that he has actually become connected with some price quotes (mostly remarks make by the in personal letters) i beg your pardon most modern-day readers would discover preposterous, including, “I have said to my brethren plenty of times the I hate justice, which means that I recognize if a man begins to talk around that, because that one factor or one more he is shirking reasoning in legit terms.”;⁸ and “If my other citizens desire to walk to Hell i will assist them. It’s mine job.”⁹

Which side, then, has the ideal answer? have to Judges be guided by morality in their actions, or should the black letter that the law be the single guiding force? there is no basic answer. However, it seems clear come me that the many moral, and correct, course of action that deserve to be taken by the courts is that of justice restraint. The ethical compass the a Judge, no matter how fine-tuned, refined and precise, is still exclusively in the possession of that one Judge. And also since we carry out not live in a country where one man/woman with impeccable conscience and exemplary acumen is entrusted through being the great adjudicator of all disputes occurring within the land, allowing every referee to be guided an ext by principles than law, would certainly be akin to opened up a Pandora’s seasoned (the ‘box’ was however a misinterpretation the the original old Greek) wherefrom would arise myriad judicial indiscretions, improprieties and also lapses in judgement. The Judge, hence, should operate within the limit of the legislation at all times, payment no heed come the injustices that might result therefrom. This contention offers rise come an inevitable question, if the regulation is based on moral principles, and morality is one ever-evolving concept, who has actually the authority to readjust the legislation so as to ensure the legislation is in consonance with morality? The price is simple, those branches of federal government that are consisted of with the help of the autonomous process, and also resultantly, are chosen by and accountable come the world directly. Now, the rational counter to this declare is, the moral compasses the members of the legislative and executive branches have often been displayed to it is in weaker and more flawed than those the Judges. Why have to they, then, be permitted to readjust the law as per your whims? to this I just say, this branches are, subject to express constitutional limitations, allotted the power to change the law and also decide what is just because of your ultimate dependence on the people to retain such power. The world have the last say. This ultimate right of the people to govern themselves is immortalised through the Preambles the both the American and Indian Constitutions, and the exact same cannot it is in usurped by one undemocratic body. The law, thus, fan its dynamism come the civilization themselves. This emotion was mutual by justice Antonin Scalia in a lecture ceded at Iona College, wherein he said, “If you want something, you guide your other citizens that it’s a good idea and also pass a law.”¹⁰ it must additionally be listed that, gift representatives the the general public, the autonomous branches that government, tend additionally to be much more representative of the assorted walks of life and, as a result, embody a multiplicity that views that is conducive to moulding a durable body the law.

This role of the judiciary, as being to a degree subservient to the law set by the democratic branches, to be recognised by Alexander Hamilton, speaking because that the supporters of the then yet to be embraced United states Constitution, that said-

“Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power should perceive, that, in a government in i beg your pardon they space separated from every other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the the very least dangerous to the political legal rights of the Constitution; due to the fact that it will certainly be least in a volume to annoy or injure them. The executive, management not only dispenses the honors, yet holds the knife of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, however prescribes the rules through which the duties and rights that every citizen are to it is in regulated. The judiciary, ~ above the contrary, has no influence over either the knife or the purse; no direction one of two people of the strength or of the wide range of the society; and also can take it no energetic resolution whatever. It might truly be said to have neither pressure nor WILL, but merely judgment; and also must at some point depend top top the help of the executive, management arm even for the efficacy that its judgments.

…It same proves, that though separation, personal, instance oppression might now and also then proceed from the court of justice, the general liberty the the world can never be endangered from the quarter;”¹¹

So an excellent was the perceived impotence of the at an early stage American judiciary that, top top one occasion, upon reading the judgment of the supreme Court ceded by cook Justice man Marshall in Worcester v. Georgia¹², President Andrew Jackson is said to have remarked, “John Marshall has made his decision; currently let that enforce it.”¹³ and also with these words the executive refused to obtrude a decision the the can be fried Court got to with a 5:1 majority. Undoubtedly, such a situation would be unacceptable today, however,in mine judgement, the courts must always be the humble servants the the law of the land. The Courts possibly guided by moral enable considerations only once the law expressly provides for it¹⁴, but this need to still not have actually the effect of superseding or upturning the clear mandate of the democratic branches.

The death of judicial Restraint in India

At this stage, it would certainly be negligent that me no to recognise the reality that Indian law normally recognises the Courts’ duty in law justice an ext so than that of the united States. Nowhere is this more evident than in short article 142(1) that the structure of India, which allows the can be fried Court to happen orders in order/decrees to carry out “complete justice” in matters before it. From a perusal of the wording of the provision, it appears self-evident that it does not allow the can be fried Court to disregard the law of the soil in its pursuit to act together the arm of justice.It merely allows the Court to pay heed to moral considerations in a matter being heard by the if it has no legalistic guide to adjudicate the same. That does not seem to me to overturn the traditional duty of a constitution judicial branch as defined by Hamilton, but merely amends the by allowing the courts to plugin the gaps in the legislation with equitable decisions on a case-by-case basis. This restrictive see of the write-up was identified by the can be fried Court itself¹⁵ up until the 1990s, once with 2 decisions¹⁶ the Court offered to itself plenary powers to pass any orders it pleased in stimulate to accomplish the end of justice nevertheless of to express enactments of the legislative branch branch. This apparent vesting of legislative power in the Court (a principle flying in the face of Montequieu’s vision), capable of being minimal only through self-imposed restrictions, to be expressedby justice A.S. Anand thus-

“The very nature that the power need to lead the court to set limits for itself in ~ which to exercise those powers and ordinarily it cannot disregard a statutory provision extending a subject, except perhaps come balance the equities between the conflicting claims of the litigating next by “ironing out the creases” in a cause or matter before it. Without doubt this Court is not a court of restricted jurisdiction the only dispute settling. The is fine recognised and also established that this court has always been a law device and its role travels past merely conflict settling.”¹⁷

Is this, then, just how we are supposed to be governed? A small, unelected, unrepresentative and also unaccountable human body of human being who space to sit in judgment to decision what is right and what is wrong for the general public. The masses, indubitably,cannot be reliable to administrate themselves, have the right to they? over there is one oft-satirised quote (paraphrased native the original) attributed come the british politician Douglas Jay, “the gentleman in Whitehall knows best”¹⁸ which intends to ridicule the British polite servant’s contemptuous notion that, sit in his lavish office in Whitehall, he to know what’s finest for the ‘common man’. Ns am in no means trying to imply that the Judges that the can be fried Court assumed anything of the kind while creating their paramountcy over moral opinion in this country, however it needs to be said, to the ‘common’ reader, the pith and marrow of your judgments relating to post 142 perform seem come say, “the gentleman in Delhi to know best.”

The risk of unchecked justice discretion is especially obvious when the powers of the supreme Court under post 142 are read with its an easy features/structures doctrine.¹⁹ its generally liberal translate of component III of the Constitution providing rise come so-called ‘unenumerated rights’,²⁰ and also its tendency to carry out away through locus standirequirement under its write-up 32 jurisprudence.²¹ To demonstrate this danger, allow us now take a hypothetical situation, i m sorry though highly unlikely, would still be perfectly in ~ the boundaries of the legislation laid under by the can be fried Court. Let us say, one day Parliament, currently fed up with the Apex Court’s consistent meddling in legislative and also executive to work (a sentiment already echoed by contemporary politicians),²² decides to happen a constitution amendment repealing post 142(1) meeting all the needs under write-up 368. That is climate within the strength of the can be fried Court to take it invoke that writ jurisdiction suo motuand declare the modification unconstitutional, holding short article 142 to it is in a part of the straightforward structure that the Constitution and hence not abrogable, even if the said amendment had famous support. Such a head ~ above encounter in between the judicial and legislative branch could be difficult for united state to imagine today, yet one need only look come the provisions the the currently defunct clauses (4) and also (5) of short article 368 to it is in reminded that a time once Parliament and the supreme Court did fight over the soul of the Constitution, and the righteousness branch, sans ‘purse’ or ‘sword’, emerged victorious.

Examples of the supreme Court, utilising the writ jurisdiction and also Article 142, and the High Courts, utilising their own writ jurisdiction under article 226, come boldly enter the domains of the autonomous branches of government have come to be commonplace. Such transgressions have been noted by numerous eminent jurists like K.K. Venugopal²³ and also T.R. Andhyarujina.²⁴

It have to be detailed here that the judiciary has actually not been able come accumulate its strength without gift aided and abetted by the two various other branches that government and the citizenry at large. The legislative branch is complicit by method of thin ineptitude, being together it is, an ext inclined to interact in politics squabbles and also mud-flinging than passing legislation. The government too, despite managing a majority in Parliament, has in recent times delivered its legislative strength to the judiciary in respect of matters wherein it is fear to take it a was standing for are afraid of losing famous support. A glaring example of this have the right to be watched in the supreme Court’s decision decriminalising consensual homosexual relations²⁵, where the added Solicitor basic of India, on instruction indigenous the main Government, determined not to oppose the writ petition challenging Section 377 the the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and left it come the “wisdom that the court”.²⁶ Lastly, we concerned the Indian citizens, you and also I. In spite of it being tough to check out how, we space as complicit together the an excellent branches of government when it come to enabling the development of righteousness discretion. I deserve to prove this proposition by means of a question- as soon as we view an unjust legislation (Section 377 of the IPC because that instance) operation within our society, and we great to rid oneself of it,to i beg your pardon authority execute we go? carry out we lobby (the original sense the the word had actually none the the sinister connotations we associate through it today)²⁷ our Member that Parliament, do we create to the Minister-in-Charge of the involved Government Department, or carry out we relocate the Courts? The answer, sadly, is generally the critical of the three. As a society, we have actually grown more used to having actually laws ‘struck down’ 보다 ‘repealed’ or ‘amended’. We view the Courts as being an ext ‘just’ than the autonomous branches that government, and providing a ‘quicker fix’. Together a result, we have tendency to technique the judiciary once we require justice, even if the regulation does not carry out for the result that we desire. The justice branch, by widening the border of righteousness discretion, is able, regardless of the inconsistency with law, to fulfil our requirements for justice. This consequently reinforces our belief in the Courts and makes us much more likely to return to their doorsteps when we space again in the require of justice. Us care, not for the sanctity of the process of dispensation that justice, but merely the truth of such dispensation, also though that is this process that safeguards ours liberties in the long run. This dependence on the righteousness branch has additionally made us a lazy electorate, most of whom poll on spiritual and caste-based lines, and also can’t name their Member the Parliament, let alone the legislature Assembly. A lazy electorate again, results in one inept and incompetent legislature, thus proceeding the cycle.

In mine opinion, despite this design of governance has yielded good results hence far, the leaves open the opportunity of grave unjust being excellent in the future. A human body which is in not in some way directly associated with and dependent top top the people, can never be entrusted with the job of gift the arbiters of morality and ipso facto justice. That is thus, incumbent upon us, the citizens of this country, come ‘break the wheel’ that has actually for so many decades brought about the unchecked growth of righteousness discretion. Us must, by virtue of public engagement in the politics process, authorize our autonomous branches of government to wrest earlier power native the hand of the unelected, and restore the ‘balance to the force’ that drives our government. For justice must be excellent though the heavens have to fall, however, it is for the world to say what is just and what is not.


<1> (1772) EngR57 : (1772) Lofft 1 : 98 ER 499

<2> The term incorporates the rules collection out in the Constitution, legislations, low grade legislations, and also when permissible, decisions of Courts.

<3> See L.L. FULLER, THE principles OF law (1969)

<4> See Michael Herz, “Do Justice!”: sports of a Thrice-Told Tale, 82 Virginia L.R.1, 111–161 (1996)

<5> referee LEARNED HAND, THE heart OF LIBERTY, 306–07 (Irving Dilliard 3rd Ed. 1960)

<6> See David Luban, Justice Holmes and also the Metaphysics of righteousness Restraint, 44 duke L.J. 3, 449–523 (1994)

<7> SeeJUDGE LEARNED HAND, bill OF rights (1958)

<8> OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, THE MIND and also FAITH OF righteousness HOLMES, 435 (Max Lerner Ed., 1943)

<9> OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, 1 HOLMES-LASKI LETTER: THE post OF MR. Righteousness HOLMES and also HAROLD J. LASKI 1916–1935, 248–249 (Mark DeWolfe Howe Ed. 1953)


<11> Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, №78,

<12> 31 U.S. 515 (1832)

<13> See Edwin A. Miles, After john Marshall’s Decision: Worcester v. Georgia and the Nullification Crisis, 39 The newspaper of Southern background 4, 519–544 (1973)

<14> for example, section 151 of the password of polite Procedure, 1908; ar 482 the the code of Criminal Procedure, 1983; write-up 142 the the constitution of India

<15> Prem Chand v. Excise Commissioner, air 1963 SC 996 : 1963 Supp. (1) SCR 885; A.R. Antulay vs. R.S. Nayak, (1988) 2 SCC 602 : wait 1988 SC 1531

<16> Union Carbide Corpn. V. Union that India, (1991) 4 SCC 584, 634–635 : wait 1992 SC 248, 278; In re, Vinay Chandra Mishra, (1995) 2 SCC 621

<17> supreme Court Bar association v. Union that India, air 1998 SC 1895 : (1998) 4 SCC 409


<19> Keshavananda Bharati v. State that Kerala, wait 1973 SC 1461 : (1973) 4 SCC 225; Minerva Mills v. Union that India, waiting 1980 SC 1789 : 1981 SCR (1) 206

<20> post 21 has been worst struggle by this practice. SeeD.D. BASU, much shorter CONSTITUTION the INDIA, 265 (13th Ed. 2001)

<21> S.P. Gupta v. Union the India, waiting 1982 SC 149 : 1981 Supp. SCC 87; Maharaj sink v. State of Uttar Pradesh, waiting 1976 SC 2602 : (1977) 1 SCC 155

<22> Sagnik Chowdhury,Judiciary is destroying legislature brick through brick: Arun Jaitley, The Indian Express, may 12, 2016,


<24> T.R. Andhyarujina, Disturbing fads in judicial activism, The Hindu, august 6, 2012,

<25> Navtej sink Johar v. Union the India, 2018 SCC online SC 1350 : (2018) 10 SCC 1

<26> PTI brand-new Delhi, Section 377: Centre leaves it to the wisdom the SC to decide validity, The Hindu business Line, July 11, 2018,; PTI, SC referee criticises government for leaving it to wisdom that court to decision on ar 377, The economic Times, September 8, 2018,


The writer is a Year V B.A.LL.B college student at the department of Law, college of Calcutta.

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