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ARTICLE 32- THE POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW BY THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Author: Mahesh Rajnish Singh, I year of LL.B. from New Law College, Mumbai


‍Introduction

The Constitution of India provides a mechanism for the Supreme Court to review judgements of the High Courts and tribunals in exceptional circumstances. Article 32 of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to do so. The Supreme Court can exercise its power of judicial review only if there is a violation of rights or if there is an infringement on any Fundamental Rights granted by the constitution. Therefore, it cannot interfere with cases where the High Court has simply interpreted the law differently from what it thinks is correct. However, if there is any breach of Fundamental Rights, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to intervene. This article explains about various judgments related to article 32, Supreme Court and its scope in detail.


What does Article 32 of the Constitution of India say?

Article 32 of the Constitution of India deals with the power of judicial review by the Supreme Court. In simple words, it is about the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to review judgements and orders passed by the lower courts. It gives the Supreme Court the power to issue writs to enforce Fundamental Rights conferred by the Constitution. With this, Article 32 also grants the Supreme Court the power to issue writs to prevent the misuse of Fundamental Rights. Article 32 is the only article in the Constitution that allows the Supreme Court to issue writs. The Constitution has empowered the Supreme Court to issue five types of writs under Article 32- (i) Habeas Corpus (ii) Mandamus (iii) Certiorari (iv) Prohibition (v) Quo warranto.


When can the Supreme Court exercise its power of Judicial Review under Article 32?

The Supreme Court can exercise its power of judicial review only if there is a violation of rights or if there is an infringement on any Fundamental Rights granted by the constitution. Therefore, it cannot interfere with cases where the High Court has simply interpreted the law differently from what it thinks is correct. However, if there is any breach of Fundamental Rights, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to intervene.


The Doctrine of Equitable Discretion and Judicial Review under Article 32

Article 32 of the Constitution of India grants the Supreme Court the power to issue writs to enforce Fundamental Rights. Therefore, when the Supreme Court exercises its power under Article 32 and issues a writ, it can be challenged on the basis of “equitable discretion”. The doctrine of equitable discretion holds that the Supreme Court has the power to correct any error in the High Court’s judgement and order a retrial. It also means that the Supreme Court has the power to interfere with the verdict of the High Court provided any of the two situations are given- (i) the High Court has “exceeded its jurisdiction” and (ii) the High Court’s judgement is “manifestly wrong”. The doctrine of equitable discretion allows the Supreme Court to interfere with the order of the High Court and exercise its power of judicial review. As long as the Supreme Court exercises its power under Article 32 while exercising the doctrine of equitable discretion, it can review any judgement and order passed by the High Court.


Breach of Fundamental Rights while exercising judicial review under Article 32

The most significant aspect of exercising the power of judicial review under Article 32 is the responsibility that the Supreme Court must fulfil. While exercising the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court must ensure that it does not breach the Fundamental Rights of the parties involved in the case. The Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution apply to the government and private parties as well. The Supreme Court must ensure that when it reviews any judgement of the High Court, it does not breach the Fundamental Rights of the parties involved in the case. The breach of Fundamental Rights can occur in two ways- (i) by interfering with the decision of the High Court and (ii) by reversing the decision of the High Court. When the Supreme Court reverses the decision of the High Court, it is equivalent to breaching the Fundamental Rights of the parties involved in the case.


Infringement of Fundamental Rights by the Government while exercising judicial review under Article 32

The Supreme Court can also breach the Fundamental Rights of the government while exercising the power of judicial review under Article 32. When the government is accused of not performing its duties or is accused of interference in the rights of citizens, the Supreme Court can review the decision passed by the High Court in both the cases. However, in both the cases, the Supreme Court must ensure that it does not violate any of the Fundamental Rights of the government. The government can also breach the Fundamental Rights of the citizens while exercising the power of judicial review under Article 32. When the government does not perform its duties or interferes in the rights of the citizens, the Supreme Court can review the decision passed by the High Court. However, in both the cases, the Supreme Court must ensure that it does not violate any of the Fundamental Rights of the government.


Conclusion

Article 32 of the Constitution of India grants the Supreme Court the power to issue writs to enforce Fundamental Rights. When the Supreme Court exercises its power under Article 32, it can review the decision passed by the High Court. However, while doing so, it must ensure that it does not breach the Fundamental Rights of the parties involved in the case.

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