October 28, 2023
Statue of Lady Justice

In India, the judiciary is fundamental because it has the authority to investigate the legality, applicability, and interpretation of laws. It is required of the legal system to operate in a way that protects each and every citizen’s rights and freedoms while administering just and equitable justice. Ensuring justice is a difficulty in the fast-evolving socio-economic-political landscape of India, where citizens want the court to adopt its duties and performance to reflect shifting perspectives.

This is where the ideas of judicial restraint and activism come into play. These ideas, which are diametrically opposed to one another, are used to describe the judicial philosophy that judges utilize to uphold a ruling. In essence, they explain the judging process.

Judicial Activism: About

Judicial activism is the belief held by jurists that judges should adapt their perspective on the law to the changing needs of society. With the authority granted by the Constitution, the judiciary resolves public complaints when the executive fails to act in the public interest. This resulted in the development of the idea of judicial activism, which has elevated societal welfare.

Judges ought to decide matters with greater audacity.

  • Laws ought to be read and administered in light of the constant shifting of circumstances and ideals.
  • Courts should make rulings in situations that reflect how society and people’s views and values change over time.

The Indian Supreme Court aggressively addressed a legislative void in the Vishaka v State of Rajasthan case by establishing rules to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Judicial Restraint: About

One theory of understanding for the judiciary is judicial restraint. It is a belief that judges should restrain the use of their authority by abstaining from influencing the outcome or the course of the procedures with their personal preferences by adhering to statutory and constitutional requirements. It suggests that until and unless a statute is unlawful, judges should hold off on overturning it.

Judges ought to make an effort to rule in matters based on the following points discussed by teachers at RJS Coaching institute:

  • The original intention of the constitution’s authors.
  • Precedent or previous rulings in related instances.
  • The court ought to let others make policy.

The court exercised caution in the Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala case by maintaining the basic structure concept and refraining from intervening directly in constitutional revisions.

Judicial Activism vs Judicial Restraint: Key Differences

The difference between Judicial Activism and Judicial Restraint that is discussed by various RJS Coaching from the judiciary point of view are as follows:

Judicial activism refers to Constitutional interpretation used to support modern values and situations.Judicial restraint refers to the limitation of judges’ authority to overturn legislation.
Judicial activist judges might read the law more widely, considering how society’s norms and values are changing over time, and they might be open to modifying the law to fit novel situations.A tight and restricted interpretation of the law, closely conforming to the language and legislative meaning, is typically associated with judicial restraint.
When it comes to civil rights, protecting the environment, and other matters where judges feel the law should be updated to address modern issues, judicial activism is more probable to be used.Judicial restraint is usually used in situations where the law is unambiguous.
Judges must exercise their authority in judicial activism to right and wrong, particularly in situations where constitutional entities are inactive.The original intention of the Constitution’s drafters should be considered by judges in judicial restraint.
Judges engaged in judicial activism ought to see past the framers’ original intentions.When rendering decisions, judges ought to consider the intentions of the legislators who drafted the legislation as well as the wording of the law in judicial restraint.
It is frequently connected to the judiciary actively promoting legislative changes and tackling urgent societal concerns.It places less emphasis on the judiciary’s ability to influence policy or social change and instead gives these responsibilities to the political arms of government.
Critics contend that it may result in judges governing from the bench, judicial overreach, and the breakdown of a separation of powers.Critics contend that this could lead to a docile judiciary that is unable to confront social injustices or change with the times.


Numerous issues are sure to occur when judges begin to believe they are the solution to every social issue and begin carrying out legislative and executive activities (since they believe that both branches of government have failed in their jobs).

It is true that certain problems, such as a lack of knowledge and a distortion of the idea of separation of powers according to the expert teachers in RJS Coaching institute, are certain to occur if judges take on the responsibilities of the administrative and legislative branches on their own. However, given the complexity of situations nowadays, the Indian scenario also calls for the judges’ individual inventiveness and application of mind when interpreting various cases.

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