Judicial Reforms

Judiciary and the challenges ahead


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Role of judiciary in democracy and challenges it faces

The article analyses the role of the judiciary in democracy and the challenges it has been facing.

Challenges to democracy

  • Growing lack of faith among many Indians in the functioning of the Supreme Court (SC).
  • The politicisation of the civil service and the police.
  • The creation of a cult of personality
  • The intimidation of the media.
  • The use of tax and investigative agencies to harass and intimidate independent voices.
  • The refusal to do away with repressive colonial-era laws and instead the desire to strengthen them.
  • The undermining of Indian federalism by the steady whittling down of the powers of the states by the Centre.

Role and challenges judiciary faces

  • In recent years the Supreme Court has done little to stop or stem the degradation of democracy.
  • Some examples: Court’s refusal to strike down laws like UAPA that should have no place in a constitutional democracy.
  • Its unconscionable delay in hearing major cases.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated trend towards authoritarianism and the centralisation of power.
  • But the hearings and orders of the past few months show, the Supreme Court seems unable or unwilling to check these ominous trends.
  • The failure of the SC is in part a failure of leadership.
  • One chief justice has accepted a Governorship immediately on retirement, and another has accepted a Rajya Sabha seat.
  • Powers of the Master of the Roster are imperfectly defined, and can lead themselves to widespread misuse by the incumbent.

Consider the question “Examine the role of the judiciary as the guardian of the Constitution. What are the challenges judiciary facing the judiciary in recent times?”


Time has come for all the serving justices in the highest court of the land to think seriously about the ever-increasing gap between their calling as defined by the Constitution, and the direction the Court is now taking.

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