Courts cannot solve all problems: PC | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Courts cannot solve all problems: PC

Describing the judiciary as an “overambitious” institution, home minister P Chidambaram on Saturday cautioned courts against thinking that there could a judicial solution to every problem. Satya Prakash reports.

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2011 00:17 IST
Satya Prakash

Describing the judiciary as an “overambitious” institution, home minister P Chidambaram on Saturday cautioned courts against thinking that there could a judicial solution to every problem.

Speaking at the Dr Kailash Nath Katju Memorial Lecture on ‘What Ails The Indian Judiciary’, Chidambaram said, “Many things are indeed broken but, in my respectful submission, they can not be fixed by judicial activism.”

He said be it the Maoist problem or the public distribution system, “there are no judicial or court-ordered solutions to these problems. Only the Executive and the legislature…can attempt to deal with them, often by the method of trial and error.”

Chidambaram’s comments have come at a time when an active and assertive judiciary has been questioning the government on issues of governance and corruption, particularly the 2G scam and black money.

“Another cause of stress is that the judiciary — especially the higher judiciary — is over ambitious. An ambitious court tends to think that there is a ‘judicial solution’ to most problems. I humbly beg to differ,” he said in the presence of many judges and lawyers.

He said: “A judicial resolution of a dispute is possible only if the issue in dispute can be stated in purely legal terms and with reference to the statutory or customary law on the subject.

“Where a problem or an issue cannot be stated in purely legal terms, and if the court is obliged to import non-legal concepts and prescribe administrative solutions, ...the court must decline jurisdiction,” he said.

“The starting point to address the issue of overburden of work is a realization that not every dispute can be resolved through courts of law. There is also the need to acknowledge that not every dispute deserves to be agitated at different levels of judicial system,” Chidambaram, who has been a senior advocate, said.

While applauding the role of courts in enlarging the ambit of fundamental rights and creating a human rights jurisdiction, he said, “As long as PILs are confined to the enforcement of human rights, the judiciary is on the right side of judicial activism. The wrong side becomes evident when — judicial activism is not grounded on textual commitment to the Constitution.”

Keynote speaker and former Supreme Court judge Kuldip Singh talked about the failure of the judiciary.