Judicial review

Judicial review is the power of Judiciary to review any act or order of Legislative and Executive wings and to pronounce upon the constitutional validity when challenged by the affected person. The power of Judicial Review comes from the Constitution of India itself (Articles 13, 32, 136, 142 and 147 of the Constitution).

  • India has an independent judiciary with extensive jurisdiction over the acts of legislature and executive. Judicial review can be defined as the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by judiciary. It is generally considered as a basic structure of independent judiciary (Indira Gandhi vs. Raj narain case).
  • However, judicial review can be classified into three categories-reviews of legislative actions, review of judicial decisions, and review of administrative action. Therefore, it is also the duty of judges to ensure that balance of power is maintained, protect human rights, fundamental rights and citizens’ rights of life and liberty.
  • Judicial review of legislative actions means the power to ensure that the law passed by legislature is in accordance with provisions contained in the constitution and in particular part 3 of constitution (principle of reading down).
  • In case of judicial review of decisions, for instance, when a statute is challenged on the ground that it has been passed by legislature without authority or rights, it is for the courts to decide whether the law passed by legislature is valid or not.
  • Judicial review of administrative action is a mechanism of enforcing constitutional discipline over administrative agencies while exercising their powers. Judicial review of judicial actions can be visualized in Golaknath case, banks nationalization case, privy purses abolition case, Minerva mills etc.
  • As courts have wide powers of judicial review, these powers have to be exercised with great caution and control.
  • The limitations of these powers are: It is only permissible to the extent of finding whether the procedure in reaching the decision has been correctly followed but not the decision itself.
  • It is delegated to our superior courts only i.e. supreme court and high court Cannot interfere in policy matters and political questions unless absolutely necessary.