In a country bogged down by corruption scams like ours, there are not many corners left where one can look at with hope. It is in this unhappy context that the role of the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court of India, comes in as a silver lining to a really dark firmament that is our polity. While in a utopian situation, the three pillars of democracy – that is the legislature, the executive and the judiciary – should work in tandem, without transgressing into each other’s territory, ours, sadly, is far from one, which is why the courts often make a proactive effort in bringing about what it considers a step in the right direction. Obviously, the judiciary can issue directives, where need be, especially in the context of an appalling vacuum of progressive policies, or the severe laxity in their proper implementation, in case there are some measures in place. The fact that the judiciary is forced to step in and intervene in matters that might, at first, appear to be purely of governmental interest and within the domain of the state, most of such interventions have been in the interest of the larger public and to empower the citizenry of this nation.
For example, the Supreme Court’s directive to the Election Commission to provide guidelines for the election manifestos of the various political parties, and particularly to curb the culture of showering freebies such as cell phones, electrical appliances and even laptops, instead of implementing the policies framed earlier during the tenure, or developing public infrastructure, has been touted, in the political circles of course, but also, bewilderingly enough, in certain sections of the media, as a case of ‘judicial overreach.’ It would be helpful to recall at this point that the Supreme Court had to step in even in the previous instances, such as in the 2G spectrum scam case, wherein it refuted the government’s claim that the first-come-first-serve basis of allocating the telecom licenses was fair. Furthermore, it was the Supreme Court once again that really jolted the Central Bureau of Investigation out of its complacence by declaring it a ‘caged parrot’ that should stop taking orders from its political masters. It is in the light of the court’s perfectly valid involvement that the CBI has woken up from its long slumber and is finally doing some good work. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that the judiciary has become the last bastion of hope in the corruption-ridden Indian political system.