Judicial Reforms

Article 32 and the Supreme Court


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Writ jurisdiction, Art. 32, 225

Mains level: Writ Jurisdiction

A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI has observed that it is “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following is included in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

  1. Dispute between the Government of India and one or more States
  2. A dispute regarding elections to either House of the parliament or that of Legislature of a State
  3. A dispute between the Government of India and Union Territory
  4. A dispute between two or more States.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 4

(d) 3 and 4

What is Article 32?

  • Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.
  • It is one of the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution that each citizen is entitled.
  • It states that the Supreme Court “shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.
  • The right guaranteed by this Article “shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution”.
  • Dr B R Ambedkar has called it the very soul and heart of the Constitution. It cannot be suspended except during the period of Emergency.

Rights protected by A32

  • The article is included in Part III of the Constitution with other fundamental rights including to Equality, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Life and Personal Liberty, and Freedom of Religion.
  • Only if any of these fundamental rights is violated can a person can approach the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

Types of Writs under it

Both the High Courts and the Supreme Court can be approached for violation or enactment of fundamental rights through five kinds of writs:

  1. Habeas corpus (related to personal liberty in cases of illegal detentions and wrongful arrests)
  2. Mandamus — directing public officials, governments, courts to perform a statutory duty;
  3. Quo Warranto — to show by what warrant is a person holding public office;
  4. Prohibition — directing judicial or quasi-judicial authorities to stop proceedings which it has no jurisdiction for; and
  5. Certiorari — re-examination of an order given by judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative authorities.
  • In civil or criminal matters, the first remedy available to an aggrieved person is that of trial courts, followed by an appeal in the High Court and then the Supreme Court.
  • When it comes to violation of fundamental rights, an individual can approach the High Court under Article 226 or the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

Supreme Court’s recent observations

  • The observation came during the hearing of a petition seeking the release of a journalist, who was arrested while reporting on an alleged gangrape and murder.
  • The court asked why the petitioners could not go to the High Court first.
  • In another case invoking Article 32, a Nagpur-based man was arrested for alleged defamatory content against Maharashtra CM, the same Bench directed him to approach the High Court first.

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