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How has the Supreme Court interpreted Article 32 over the years?

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

How has the Supreme Court interpreted Article 32 over the years?


Context:

A Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde has observed that it is “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution.

  • The observation came during the hearing of a petition seeking the release of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested with three others while on their way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, to report on an alleged gangrape and murder.

 What is Article 32?

Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.

  • It states that the Supreme Court “shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.

 Key Points:

  • The right guaranteed by this Article “shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution”.
  • Only if any of these fundamental rights is violated can a person can approach the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

Can High Courts be approached in cases of violation of fundamental rights?

In civil or criminal matters, the first remedy available to an aggrieved person is that of trial courts, followed by an appeal in the High Court and then the Supreme Court.

When it comes to violation of fundamental rights, an individual can approach the High Court under Article 226 or the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

  • Article 226, however, is not a fundamental right like Article 32.

What have been the Supreme Court’s recent observations on Article 32?

In Romesh Thappar vs State of Madras (1950), the Supreme Court observed that Article 32 provides a “guaranteed” remedy for the enforcement of fundamental rights.

  • This Court is thus constituted the protector and guarantor of fundamental rights, and it cannot, consistently with the responsibility so laid upon it, refuse to entertain applications seeking protection against infringements of such rights,” the court observed.

During the Emergency, in Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur vs S S Shukla (1976), the Supreme Court had said that the citizen loses his right to approach the court under Article 32.

Finally, Constitutional experts say that it is eventually at the discretion of the Supreme Court and each individual judge to decide whether an intervention is warranted in a case, which could also be heard by the High Court first.

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InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Types of Writs.
  2. Writs jurisdiction of the Supreme Court vs High Courts.
  3. About Articles 226 and 32.
  4. Who can approach the Supreme Court under Article 32?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.

Sources: Indian Express.