KK Venugopal
KK Venugopal

In many cases, the Supreme Court has exercised power which is not judicial adjudication or judicial activism: Attorney General KK Venugopal

Aditi Singh

In many cases, the Supreme Court has exercised power which cannot be treated as judicial adjudication or judicial activism, Attorney General of India and Senior Advocate KK Venugopal said, while rendering a lecture on the theme 'Contours of Judicial Review'.

AG Venugopal was speaking at the first lecture of Prof NR Madhava Menon Memorial Lecture Series organized by Akhil Bharatiya Abhivakta Parishad.

In the lecture live streamed earlier today, AG Venugopal observed,

"Supreme Court has done a tremendous amount of work. It has practically tried to wipe away tears from the eyes of the poor... At the same time, they have in many cases, according to me, exercised powers which can never be termed as judicial adjudication or even within the bounds of judicial activism."
Attorney General KK Venugopal

Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur moderated the session and Prof C Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor of Jindal Global University delivered the welcome address.

Prof C RajKumar spoke on Prof Menon's legacy and his contribution towards reforming legal education in India. He fondly remembered Prof Menon for his work in the field of clinical legal education in India, in making legal profession more inclusive, as well as in the capacity building and training of judges.

In his lecture, AG Venugopal spoke on the land reform laws which were introduced after Independence, the Constitutional amendments to sustain them and the consequent landmark judgements delivered by the Supreme Court.

While dealing with the dawn of public interest litigation in India after the Emergency, he referred to several landmark judgments such as the cases of Hussainara Khatoon, Sunil Batra, Sheela Barse etc.

AG Venugopal stated that the source of these vast powers of judicial review was Articles 32, 142 and 226 of the Indian Constitution. He also took the opportunity to reflect upon the present status of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India. He remarked,

"And today we find, during the time of COVID-19, the cases that are filed, I mean.. transport all the migrants from one part of the country to another. Unless you have an Aladdin's lamp and rub it, you cannot suddenly transport. Is it not part of policy making? ... One's heart is pained at the fate (of the migrants) but the Government is doing whatever is necessary for that purpose."
Attorney General KK Venugopal

Speaking on the need for the judiciary to exercise restraint, AG Venugopal remarked that "constitutional morality" was a new weapon in the armoury of judicial review.

He illustrated how the tool of "constitutional morality" was used by Justices DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra to arrive at two different conclusions in the Sabarimala case.

I don't think they (judiciary) need any new weapon for judicial adjudication or judicial review", he said.

AG Venugopal, however, dismissed the argument that judicial review was, in fact, anti-democratic.

The argument seems very attractive but is not a welcome thought, AG Venugopal opined, while observing that the political wing of governance was very vulnerable and exceeded their powers at times.

During the Q&A Session, AG Venugopal also suggested the constitution of a Court of Appeals after the High Courts in order to reduce the burden on the Supreme Court.

He also disclosed as to what made him open his antiquarian library to public.

"I am an old man. Therefore, what is the use of leaving it in cold storage.. there was no use of keeping it in the house", he said, as he emphasized on the contribution that this collection can make to the cause of research.

Watch the entire lecture here:

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