The Power of Judicial Review: Article 32 & Article 226


In a democratic society, the judiciary plays a pivotal role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice prevails. Two articles in the Indian Constitution, Article 32 and Article 226, grant extraordinary powers to the judiciary to safeguard the rights and liberties of citizens. These articles empower the courts to issue writs, thereby allowing for judicial review of government actions and decisions. This blog post explores the significance of Article 32 and Article 226, the writs they enable, and their impact on our legal system. 

Article 32: The Heart of the Constitution 

Article 32 of the Indian Constitution is often hailed as the “heart of the constitution.” It is a fundamental right that guarantees citizens the right to move the Supreme Court of India for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. This article serves as a safeguard against the arbitrary exercise of governmental authority and ensures that citizens can seek redressal when their rights are violated. 

Article 32 vs. Other Fundamental Rights 

What sets Article 32 apart from other fundamental rights is its unique position. While most fundamental rights can be suspended during a state of emergency, Article 32 remains untouched. It provides a direct remedy to individuals whose rights have been infringed upon, making it a powerful tool for citizens to hold the government accountable. 

Article 226: The High Court’s Jurisdiction 

Article 226 grants High Courts the power to issue writs, orders, or directions for the enforcement of fundamental rights and for “any other purpose.” Unlike Article 32, Article 226’s jurisdiction is limited to the respective state or union territory in which the High Court is located. This article allows for a broader scope of judicial review, as it can be employed not only to protect fundamental rights but also to address other issues affecting citizens’ interests. 

Writs: The Tools of Justice 

To enforce the rights guaranteed under Article 32 and Article 226, the courts are armed with five prerogative writs: 

  • Habeas Corpus: This writ is a powerful tool to safeguard personal liberty. It allows the court to inquire into the legality of an individual’s detention and, if unjustified, order their release. 
  • Mandamus: Mandamus compels a public authority to perform a legal duty. It is issued when an authority has acted against the law, exceeded its powers, or failed to exercise its discretion reasonably. 
  • Prohibition: Prohibition is used to stop an inferior court or quasi-judicial body from exceeding its jurisdiction or acting outside its authority. 
  • Certiorari: This writ is employed to quash the orders or decisions of inferior courts, tribunals, or quasi-judicial bodies when they act illegally or against the principles of natural justice. 
  • Quo-Warranto: Quo-Warranto challenges a person’s right to hold a public office. It ensures that individuals appointed to public offices meet the necessary legal requirements. 

Judicial Review: The Guardian of Democracy 

Judicial review, the cornerstone of Article 32 and Article 226, is the judiciary’s power to examine and invalidate governmental actions that are inconsistent with the constitution. This crucial function ensures that the government operates within its constitutional limits and doesn’t infringe upon citizens’ rights. 

Judicial Activism: Expanding the Horizons 

Judicial activism refers to instances where the judiciary takes an active role in shaping and influencing public policy. Through public interest litigation (PIL), the courts have expanded their reach, allowing individuals or groups to petition the court on behalf of the disadvantaged or marginalized. This activism has led to landmark judgments that have significantly impacted society. 

Judicial Overreach: A Delicate Balance 

While judicial activism has its merits, it’s essential to strike a balance and avoid judicial overreach. Overstepping into the domains of the executive and legislative branches can undermine the democratic system’s checks and balances. It’s imperative for the judiciary to exercise restraint in such matters. 

Conclusion: Upholding Justice and Democracy 

In conclusion, Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution are formidable tools that empower the judiciary to safeguard citizens’ rights and keep the government accountable. These articles, along with the prerogative writs, form the bedrock of judicial review, ensuring that justice and democracy prevail in our nation. As we navigate the delicate balance between judicial activism and restraint, we must remember that a robust judiciary is essential to upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice for all. 

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