In a critical judgment, the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on the entry of women of a certain age group into Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. Even after a spirited defence of Hindu traditions by lawyers like Sai Deepak, the Court reached the conclusion that the ban should be lifted.
The judgment, however, has exposed the illiberal tendencies of self-proclaimed progressives. The progressives are hailing the encroachment of the Judiciary on the domains of the legislative. Barkha Dutt, for instance, hailed the fact that we are living in a ‘judicial democracy’.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) September 28, 2018
One would expect liberals to be concerned about the fact that an unelected wing of the state is encroaching upon the domain of elected representatives. However, they appear to be celebrating as the decisions are going in their favour. They should be cautious that decisions will not always favour them and they might come to regret the fact that they were cheering when unelected branches of the state were accumulating too much power for themselves.
Such a mentality also exposes the fact that liberals are not too fond of democracy themselves and have little regard for the will of the people. They harp on about democracy only when it suits them. They bat for unelected people to make major decisions on law and policy when it suits them. Only the victory of their ideology matters while the means can differ as per their convenience, the rest is irrelevant.
The fact that liberals are cheering for judicial activism reveals the extent to which they are committed to their ideology. They care very little for the opinions and traditions of the laymen. As long as their ideological positions succeed, democracy is a very little price to pay.
The dangerous aspect of such a vociferous support for judicial activism is it makes people sympathetic to illiberal forms of governments. If the people they have elected as their representatives do not voice their concerns and do not serve their interests while unelected people make decisions for them, why shouldn’t they turn to a tyrant who promises both of those things? You won’t be able to convince people that a tyrant should not be looked up to because he will not respect their wishes if unelected people in a democracy are overriding elected representatives anyway and making decisions beyond their mandate. It’s a dangerous precedent to set and liberals should be wise enough to refrain from cheering for judicial activism.
The gravest problem with unelected people taking sweeping decisions in a democracy is that it undermines the very notion of accountability. India is a Republic, therefore the decision falls on elected representatives to take decisions on behalf of the populace. Therefore, they are accountable for their decisions to his constituents. But a Judge is accountable to no one and nothing. If judges encroach on the domain of the legislative, who will the people hold accountable? The end result of all of this will be people losing faith in the system itself and they might very well turn towards a tyrant who promises to listen to their concerns and serve their interests.
Even Markande Katju, a former Justice of the Supreme Court who is certainly not a fan of the rightwing, disagrees vehemently with the “perilous unpredictable path of over activism” that the Supreme Court has embarked upon.
Justice Indu Malhotra’s judgment is correct,& majority is wrong. With this judgment & s.497 one, SC has embarked on a perilous unpredictable path of over activism like US SC in 1930s utterly lacking in self restraint, heading for we know not where
— Markandey Katju (@mkatju) September 28, 2018
Judicial activism undermines the very basis of democracy. That liberals are cheering for it will further endanger democracy as their opponents will soon return fire with fire and abandon adherence to democratic principles for ideological victory. Because if liberals are not playing fairly and are openly discrediting democracy for ideological victories, then why should their opponents let democracy get in the way of victories in the ideological front?