ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Judiciary and a Responsible Democracy

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This is in response to the article “The Supreme Court: Then and Now” by A P Shah (EPW, 3 October 2020). The author systematically traced the foundational values of the Supreme Court of India and how it is diverting from its function since 2014. The insights are rich owing to the fact that they have come from an insider and a practitioner who has witnessed the judiciary’s functioning and its subtleties. Appreciation to both the author and the Economic & Political Weekly for carrying such an insightful article; this is for a specific reason that in general the views and opinion of the judges are not available in open owing to various professional and institutional constraints. It is also due to the fact that the views and opinions of judges are rare to be seen in the academic discourses. From this perspective, the article is a valuable addition to the existing body of literature, especially in understanding the political economy of the judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular. Having said this, the article would have been better if it provided certain illustrations and examples to substantiate the author’s point of view.

For example, the author is of the view that “In India today, every institution, mechanism or tool that is designed to hold the executive accountable, is being systematically destroyed. This destruction began in 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power” (p 32). This is a fact; however a common citizen would like to hear and will benefit to know why and how this happened rather than the what aspects of the phenomenon. It is not completely true to say that the weakening or destruction of the mechanisms of accountability began only in 2014; rather it is prudent to say that the weakening/destruction process was catalysed post 2014 by the political regime.

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