By going through these Maharashtra State Board Class 11 Political Science Notes Chapter 6 Role of the Judiciary students can recall all the concepts quickly.

Maharashtra State Board Class 11 Political Science Notes Chapter 6 Role of the Judiciary


This chapter examines the concepts of judicial independence, judicial activism and Judicial Review.
We will also study about the Judicial system in India, Writs and some important judicial landmarks in India.

Judicial Independence

Modern governments have three branches viz. legislature, executive and judiciary. There are constitutional and legal provisions to ensure that the judiciary stays independent of the other two branches. This ensures that all those who appear before the judiciary are treated on an equal plane.

The concept of an independent judiciary is recent as in a Monarchy, the judiciary would be under the control of the Monarch. The first country to explicitly make provisions in it’s Constitution for an independent judiciary was the USA. Judges of Supreme Court in the USA and other subordinate courts are appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate. Judges can be removed from office only on grounds of violating the constitution by a process called impeachment.

Maharashtra Board Class 11 Political Science Notes Chapter 6 Role of the Judiciary

Significance of judicial independence:
Judicial Independence it helps the judiciary to administer justice in a free and fair manner without fear, favour or pressure of the executive or the legislature. It also ensures that all decisions are given in . accordance with the law. Welfare of citizens depends upon speedy and impartial justice.

Judicial System In India

Structure of Judicial System in India is laid down in the constitution. India has an integrated judicial system with the Supreme Court at it’s apex. The next level consists of High Courts followed by the District Courts. Generally, there is one High Court for each state but some states may share a High Court for e.g., Maharashtra and Goa. The High Court controls and supervises the functioning of the District courts and the other courts such as family courts, etc.

There are also tribunals established by both the Central as well as State governments to deal with disputes of a specialized nature e.g., Armed Forces Tribunal, National Green Tribunal, Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal etc. These bodies are known as “quasi-judicial bodies” but they are ultimately under the control of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Courts judges are appointed by the President. A Collegium consisting of the Chief Justice of India and four senior most judges of the court recommends names for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts.

Functions Of The Judiciary

The primary function of the Judiciary is adjudication of cases i.e., it takes decisions about disputes or cases according
to the law and then issues orders to ensure that these decisions are carried out. Each court can adjudicate only in it’s jurisdiction.

1. Original Jurisdiction – Certain matters can be heard for the first time only in certain courts for e.g., the Supreme Court of India has original jurisdiction in any disputes between two or more State governments, between the Government of India and one or more constituent States as well as disputes pertaining to the election of the President and Vice-President of India. This jurisdiction is exclusive to the Supreme Court of India.

2. Appellate Jurisdiction – Appeals against decisions of lower courts can be heard in the higher courts for e.g., The High Courts can hear appeals against decisions of District Courts. Similarly, the Supreme Court can hear appeals against High Court decisions in civil and criminal cases.

Maharashtra Board Class 11 Political Science Notes Chapter 6 Role of the Judiciary

3. Advisory Jurisdiction – The Supreme Court gives it’s opinion on matters referred to it by the President of India but this .advice is not binding on the President.

4. Interpretation of the constitution and laws made under it is the authority of the Supreme Court and High Courts for e.g., the Supreme Court interpreted ‘Right to Life’ as the right to not merely exist but also to live with dignity and in a pollution free environment. The judiciary is the custodian of the Constitution.

5. Writ Jurisdiction – The Constitution empowers the Supreme Court and High Courts to issue writs for protection of Fundamental Rights. These are five types of writs specified in the constitution viz. Habeas corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo Warranto.

Judicial Activism

In recent times, the judiciary in India, has widened the scope of it’s functions. Individuals can file petitions on matters of public importance before the courts. This is known as Public Interest Litigations. Courts have sometimes taken note of matters of public concern without anyone filing a petition or complaint (suomoto). Judicial activism has also begun to scrutinize how the Executive exercises it’s authority for e.g., imposition of President’s Rule in a State. Supporters of judicial activism feel it is necessary to ensure that the executive and legislature discharge it’s functions properly while opponents feel it exceeds judicial scope and undermines parliamentary sovereignty.

Judicial Review

Judicial Review refers to the competence of the Judiciary to examine if any law or executive action is consistent with the constitutional provisions and if not, to declare it as unconstitutional and invalid. The origins of Judicial Review can be traced to the Marbury vs Madison case (1803) in the USA. The Federal Court had declared a government decision to be inconsistent with the US constitution. However, the US Constitution does not have any explicit provision for Judicial Review. In India also, the powers of Judicial Review are implied. The main issue is whether constitutional amendments can be held as unconstitutional. In the Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala case regarding the validity of the 24th Constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court held that Parliament can amend any constitutional provision subject to retaining the basic structure of the constitution.