Is Judiciary really independent?


This article has been written by Pragyna Panigrahi, a 1st-year student of Amity Law School, Raipur Chhattisgarh.


The Judiciary is the third branch of government along with legislature and the executive. The first and major responsibility of the Judiciary is to give justice to people, and punishment to those who are found guilty due to infringement of the law of the state or Rights of the people. The judiciary is the main pillar of democracy. The judiciary has been rightly called, “The shield of innocence and safeguard of the civil rights.

If the lamp of Justice goes out in the darkness, how great is that darkness? Judiciary,  therefore, is one of the most important branch of government. The judiciary is the guardian of the rights of the citizens. Every citizen looks to the judiciary to protect his rights. Judiciary play a vital role in protecting the rights and liberties of the people, settling disputes, interpreting the law and protecting the constitution.


The people of a nation may lose confidence in Executive or the Legislature but it will be an evil day if they lose their confidence in its Judiciary.                                                             -B.R Ambedkar

The three main branches of government are legislature, executive, and judiciary . The judiciary interprets and applies the law . The court has the power to make decision and enforce the law ,and solve disputes. The constitution is the source of law and also the supreme law of India . For free functioning of judiciary it is most essential that judiciary must be free from any type of pressure or influence. It means that the other two branches of the government (legislature and executive )don’t have power to interfere with the function and decision of judiciary.

Judiciary is independent when the following conditions exist:-

  • The judiciary must have full freedom to administer justice impartially independently and freely;
  • It must have authority to protect individual freedom and rights.
  • Without fear or favor ,judges should deliver judgment impartially;
  • It must have power to check and control the despotic tendencies of the executive;
  • Either the legislature or the executive should not interfere with the judiciary .

The independence of the judiciary can be secured by providing conditions in which the judges are able to perform their duties without fear or favor.

The independent judiciary allows the court to play a major role in checking that there should not be any misuse of legislature and executive . It provides fundamental rights to the people of the country. The judges do not act on the government direction or in the favor of any political party.

Provisions related to independence of judiciary in the constitution are:-  

  1. The judges can only be removed by the presidential order after impeachment procedure.
  2. The parliament cannot reduce jurisdiction of the court.
  3. The legislature cannot vote upon salary of the judges.
  4. The court have power to punish for its contempt.
  5. Legislature are not allowed to discuss judges conduct in the court except during impeachment procedure.
  6. After retirement the judges are not allowed for the legal practice.


  The territorial jurisdiction of a court and the authority of a judge goes on rising in an ascending order, rights up to the highest court in the land. In India, the highest judicial authority is the Supreme court.  Below the Supreme court, there exist a High court in each state. Below the High courts ,there exist civil and criminal courts for each district and there lie subordinate courts at the bottom .All the judicial courts consider case and deliver justice within their jurisdiction on the basis of the prevailing laws. The judgment given by the supreme court of the land will be adopted by the lower courts for solving disputes of the similar nature.

Features of Indian judiciary:-

  1. Single and integrated system-

The constitution establishes a single integrated judicial system for the whole country.  The highest court of India is the Supreme court.  It is the court of the country . Then comes the High court at the state level .And other court (subordinate courts) works under the High courts. The Supreme court control all the judicial administration of the country.

  1. Independence of Judiciary:-
Also Read:  Naturally Ours?

The constitution have a vital role in making the Judiciary Independent. It provides:-

  • The judges are appointed by the president.
  • The judges with high qualification are appointed .
  • Removal of Judges by a difficult method of impeachment.
  • High series, pension and many more benefit for judges.
  • Sufficient power and function for the judiciary.
  1. Judiciary as the interpreter of the constitution:-

The constitution of India is a written constitution. The Supreme court have the power to clarify the constitution.

  1. Judicial Review:-

The constitution of India is the Supreme law. The Supreme court act as the protector of the constitution . One of the most important features of the judiciary is the power of judicial review. Judicial Review in the power of a court to enquire whether a law ,executive order or other official action conflict with written constitution and if the court concludes that it does ,declare it unconstitutional.

  1. High courts in each state:-

Most of the states have a High court of their own. However some time two or more states share one High court. Every High court has original jurisdiction in regard to the admiralty, will, divorce, marriage, company, contempt of court and certain revenue every High courts is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights.

  1. Guardian of Fundamental Rights:-

Judiciary is called the guardian of the fundamental rights as well as it protects the fundamental rights and also ensures the safety of the rights.

  1. Separation of the judiciary from the executive:-

Judiciary and executive are the two branches of the government. The court delivers judgement. The executive implements them . If the executive refuses to do so ,it is generally the called contempt of court. The judiciary has the right to declare the acts of the executive unconditional. This is the power of Judicial Review.

  1. Open trial:-

The court in India are free. The accused is always given full freedom to save himself. The state provides free legal aid to the poor and needy.

  1. Judicial Activism:-

Judicial Activism in Indian is being used for achieving distributive justice which is otherwise labelled as ‘ Social Justice ‘. Judicial Activism is related to problems and processes of political development.  Activism is that way of exercising  Judicial power while it seeks fundamental re-codification of power relation among the dominant instructions of state-managed by members of ruling classes.


Some necessary steps will have to be taken if the state and the judiciary want to provide speedy justice to citizens of India.

  • Lower judiciary should not be under the control of higher judiciary .
  • There should be a permanent body at the level of district judiciary,High court and Supreme court to hear the grievances of litigants and public in general in administration sides. In the absence of any forum to hear the grievances of the litigants the official of the court has become unbridled
  • The license of the advocates may evade subjects to removal after a fixed period to show that they not be unbridled. Their licenses may be renewed after a examination by concerned Bar council.
  • It has been seen that judges of a lower court and High court do not give date of hearing to the litigants by their own hands . Every court must follow the direction of the Supreme court, which have been issued in this regard.
  • There is a need to set up a judicial disciplinary authority over the misconduct of the judges to prevents the corruption in judiciary.
  • There is a need of an independent National Judicial Commission (NJC) which must be created as a constitutional body like the Election Commission.
  • Court should adopt a simple procedure enabling a common man to directly approach the court.
  • Ensuring the required standards in the legal professional or the person concerned.[1]



Political Science S. R. Myneni

Image from here. Illustration: Đorđe Matić (for CINS)

Also Read: Judges of Higher Judiciary not Govt. Servants here

Why the Setting Up of a National Judicial Appointments Commission is the Need of The Hour



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