What is Judicial Review? Its Meaning, Article, Scope in India


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You may have heard the word “Judicial Review,” right? In a literal sense, it means a review of any act/ law/ action of the Legislature or Executive by the Judiciary. The ‘judicial review’ doctrine is also a part of the basic structure.

The concept of Indian judicial review is inspired by the American Constitution. The judicial review doctrine was first propounded by John Marshall, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (US), in the famous case of Marbury vs. Madison (1803). The judicial review power in India, lies with the judiciary.

Judicial Review in India

Let’s talk in detail about the concept of Judicial Review in India.

Judicial Review Meaning

If we speak about the authoritative definition of judicial review, then Justice Syed Shah Mohamed Quadri has classified judicial review into three main categories:

  • Judicial review of constitutional amendments.
  • Judicial review of legislation of the Parliament and State Legislature and subordinate legislations.
  • The judicial review of administrative actions of Union and State and its authorities.

In other words, the meaning of judicial review is that Judiciary has the power to evaluate and examine the constitutionality of laws and executive orders of both the centre and the states. Each law needs to be within the ambit of the Constitution. If, after review, the law/order violates the Constitution (ultra vires), it becomes unconstitutional and void.

History & Examples of Judicial Review in India

The Supreme Court of India has applied the judicial review doctrine many times. 

Through the Ninth Schedule, the government tried to keep the laws away from the purview of judicial review. However, in the famous case of I.R Coelho (2007), the Supreme Court said that Ninth Schedule should not to be used as a blanket to protect against unconstitutional laws by simply putting them in the said Schedule. The Court has the power to use judicial review on laws mentioned under Ninth Schedule.

Other few examples are:

  • Mithu vs. the State of Punjab

Supreme Court held that Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional. 

  • 99th Constitutional Amendment Act

In a case filed by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) and others, the Supreme Court declared the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014 and its amendment unconstitutional and void.

  •  Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain

In this case, the 39th Amendment Act that provided that the election of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha is beyond the scrutiny of the Indian courts and was declared unconstitutional and void.

Scope of Judicial Review in India

One can challenge the validity of Legislative enactment and Executive order in the Supreme Court and High Court. 

The grounds for such challenges are:

  • Infringement of Fundamental Rights (Part-III)
  • It is outside the competence of the authority which has framed it, and
  • It is repugnant to the constitutional provisions

Importance of Judicial Review in India

As we know, judicial review is part of the basic structure, meaning that it can’t be deleted from the Constitution, making it an essential part of the Indian constitution. Apart from that, we need judicial review in India:

  • To uphold the principles of the supremacy of the Constitution.
  • Maintain the balance between centre and state.
  • To protect fundamental Rights.

Judicial Review Article

In the Constitution of India, “Judicial Review” is not mentioned. However, few Articles explicitly tell us about the presence of judicial review doctrine in the Indian Constitution. 

113 It states that all laws that are inconsistent with or in derogation of Fundamental Rights are null and void.
232 Remedies for enforcement of fundamental Rights. Under this article, Supreme Court has the power to issue directions/orders or writs.
3 131 Original jurisdiction of Supreme Court in centre-state and inter-state dispute.
4132 Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in constitutional cases.
5133 Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in civil cases.
6134 Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in criminal cases.
7134-A Certificate for appeal to the Supreme Court from the High Courts.
8135 Jurisdiction and powers of the federal court under existing law to be exercisable by the Supreme Court.
9136 Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court.
10143 Power of President to consult Supreme Court.
11226 Power of High Court to issue writs.
12227 Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court.
13245 Extent of laws made by Parliament and by the legislatures of states.
14246 Subject-matter of laws made by Parliament and by legislatures of states.
15251 & 254 In case of conflict between centre and state, central law will prevail over state laws.
16372 Continuance in force of the pre-constitution laws.

Does the bulkiness of the Constitution of India scare you too? Click here to know the tips and tricks to tackle the entire Constitution of India.


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