Judicial activism has to be blended with restraint: Arun Jaitley

Published May 16, 2016, 8:18 pm IST
Updated May 16, 2016, 8:18 pm IST
Must draw its own ‘Lakshmanrekha’ as there cannot be a ‘compromise’ with other aspects, says Jaitley.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: PTI)
 Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Continuing with his criticism of judiciary for its "overreach", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said it must draw its own "Lakshmanrekha" as there cannot be a "compromise" with other aspects of the basic structure in the name of independence of the judiciary.

Four days after Jaitley remarked in Parliament that "Step by step, brick by brick, the edifice of India s legislature is being destroyed" due to judicial activism, Jaitley asserted that "activism" has to be blended with "restraint".


"Judicial review is legitimate domain of judiciary but then the Lakshmanrekha has to be drawn by all the institutions themselves. Lakshmanrekha is very vital," the Finance Minister said, asserting that "the executive decisions are to be taken by the executive and not the judiciary".

Replying to questions during a media interaction at IWPC here, Jaitley reasoned that there are different kinds of recourse and "layers of accountability" available when the executive takes decisions and people have options of seeking changes in the decision taken by the executive besides voting out the government.

The courts can also strike down a decision taken by the executive if it is found to be unconstitutional but all these options are not available when the court ends up taking executive decisions, Jaitley, who has been Law Minister, argued.

"Courts cannot substitute the executive and say I will exercise the executive power. If you do so the three options will not be available, which are there when the executive takes executive decisions," he said.

Jaitley was asked questions about his earlier remarks that the judiciary had been encroaching on legislative and executive authority.

At the same time, he noted that the independence of judiciary is extremely important and that is rightly asserted by the judiciary.

"Just as independence of the judiciary is part of basic structure, the primacy of the legislature in policy making is also part of basic structure.

"In the name of the independence of judiciary, we cannot compromise the other two basic structures," he said asserting that to protect one basic structure is not enough".

Stressing that he was not going into any specific issue but speaking on the issue of constitutionality, Jaitley said, "Element of activism always has to be blended with element of restraint" and the correct course is when the two are balanced.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley had earlier urged the legislators to refrain from handing over budgetary and taxation powers to the judiciary.

Again speaking in Hyderabad, Jaitley had yesterday said that while he respects the apex court, "one should not try to interfere in others' areas".

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi