Judicial review is considered as a basic feature of the Constitution. Judicial review in India comprises of Judicial review of legislative action and judicial review of administrative action. The Judges of the superior courts have been entrusted with the task of upholding the Constitution and have the power to interpret it. They have to ensure that the balance of power envisaged by Constitution is maintained and that the legislature and executive do not; in the discharge of functions exceed constitutional limitations. The Court in its exercise of power of judicial review would guard the human rights, fundamental rights and the citizen’s rights of life and liberty as also many no statutory powers of the governmental bodies as regards their control over property and assets and so on.
The judiciary can interfere if there is an abdication of duties by the legislature or executive. The Constitution makers have conferred the important sovereign functioning of interpretation of the Constitution and various statutes upon the judiciary. The Supreme Court and the High Courts can issue writs to control the functioning of lower Judiciary. The decision of the High Court or Supreme Court cannot be questioned by way of a writ proceeding. Thus, a final decision of the Supreme Court cannot be questioned under Article 32, except by way of review petition. It is true that the Courts have wide powers of judicial review of constitutional and statutory provisions.
These powers, however, must be exercised with great caution and self-control. The courts should not step out of the limits of their legitimate powers of judicial review. Where the words are clear, there is no ambiguity and the intention of the legislature is clearly conveyed, there is no scope for the Court to take upon itself the task of amending or altering the statutory provisions.
The Judges have to remember that there is a line, though thin, which separates adjudication from legislation. The Judiciary plays a role of interpreter and should not undertake the task of law-making unless the situation demands so. Thus, Judicial review in India is absolutely essential and not undemocratic because the Judiciary while interpreting the Constitution or others statutes is expressing the will of the people of India as a whole who have reposed faith and confidence in the Indian Judiciary. The Judicial review would be undemocratic only if the judiciary ignores the concept of separation of powers and indulges in “unnecessary and undeserving judicial activism”.