Suo Motu | Judicial Activism or Judicial Adventurism? 

Suo Motu

by Shamsul
Suo Moto
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Suo Motu | Judicial Activism or Judicial Adventurism? 

 

‘Suo Moto’ or ‘Suo Motu’ refers to being in full control of any matter. Its legal meaning is “its own motion”. It is basically a Latin term and resembles with ‘Sua Sponte’ by the meaning, as ‘Sua Sponte’ says, “of his, her, it’s or their own accord”. Suo Moto is used for any legal action taken by a legal party (authority) irrespective of the other party’s demand. In the 17th century, “Epistolary Jurisdiction” took place due to the awareness regarding easy access to law and justice for the poor and needy. In usual cases, any party brings the case to the court to demand justice of a ruling on a certain matter. Still, the law is also allowed to take steps regarding any matter of public development like gross law violation, issue, or disturbance in law order maintenance etc. In general cases of ‘Suo Motu’, a vast community or a large number of public development or justice is the primary concern. In usual cases, the information about such unjust comes from a third source, and the judiciary takes action on it to ensure that no violation is done or will be done. These actions aim to widen the scale of justice to the public having some reasons not to stand up for themselves.

 
 

Indian Judiciary and Suo Motu

Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution are the basis behind the Suo Motu. These articles are a bridge between the judiciary and the public. Public Interest Litigation (PIL), along with these articles, allows the bench to take the public appropriate actions on their own. Even the court can bring any issue on its own without the need of any 3rd party and work on the fast decisions. In India, the judiciary has taken Suo Motu as the critical step to investigate the actions taken by exclusives. In India, the executive, legislature, and judiciary are considered independent in their decisions, but this independence is no longer prominent due to judicial advancement. Even some courts and law authorities like Humble Apex Court have also taken steps based on news, media reports and public protests. Court Contempt Cases and cases where any person, community, or a specific part of society has faced brutal unjust, Suo Motu becomes the base to provide a just solution. Any act of India does not set the scope, limitations, and extent of Suo Motu, so it is applied when and where needed. 

The world, along with India, is going through a severe pandemic. Any PIL in these times is an addition to the suffering of humans.

 

Filed Cases in India

In India, the number of filed cases is increasing, and courts are now making more use of Suo Motu than before to deal with the issue. 

  • A Member of Parliament, Smt. Mahua Moitra filed a case for Migrant workers enduring COVID-19, and the basis of this case was Suo Motu. [1].
  • Another Suo Motu based case was taken in Hon’ble Apex Court for the children protection homes. [2]
  • A case in Apex Court is dealing with prison overcrowding by taking Suo Motu as its basis. [3]
  • Another Suo Motu-based case in Hon’ble Supreme Court is concerned about the children’s mid-day meal availability. All the appointed commissioners are informed to ensure that pandemic is not supposed to lead to another disaster. Sanjay R. Hegde is a well-known senior advocate of the Amicus Currie of this case. [iv]
  • Different lawyers and law supporters face trouble while filing a Suo Motu case, so to deal with this issue, Hon’ble Apex Court has increased the appeal filing time period for any such case, no matter if under special or general law. [v]
  • Other than this, various courts are now taking such cases for a larger number of public interests across the country. Based on a new paper report, The Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad took action on a Suo Motu case and referred to the case as very disturbing. The division bench also gave its statement claiming the issue is important and offers no resistance to daily proceedings. [vi]
  • High Court of Andhra Pradesh considered the case of Vizag gas leak on the basis of Suo motu. [vii]
  • National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi and National Green Tribunal, New Delhi are also saddened by the incident and took a Suo Motu-based notice.

 

SUO MOTU | JUDICIAL ACTIVISM OR JUDICIAL ADVENTURISM

Judicial adventurism and judicial activism are often considered as one term. Judicial activism refers to the right doings after executives’ failed attempts to provide the public a just decision or society without interfering enough to take the democracy into their own hands and be above the law. There have been some cases of fiscal policy etc. where the judiciary had to interfere with making sure the executives are not using the law to benefit from it personally. Different courts, including the Hon’ble Apex Court, are being praised for their Suo Motu bases approaches. Even in all these cases, the judiciary is bound to follow the law as it is the wise and needed step. 

J S Verma, former Chief Justice of India Justice, stated that the judiciary should be responsible for its own duties, and overstepping is only appreciated if the authority has failed in its doings. It is proved in judicial review properly. It was added that judicial activism should not be a hidden agenda for judicial ad hoc or dictatorship.

In Delhi, many judicial adventurism-based cases were ceased. [viii] 

While the supreme court gave its judgment that the judiciary can review any state assembly, and if there is no issue found in the proceedings of the assembly, then it is free to restore its proceedings as before. [ix]

TMA Pai Foundation case[x] and the Islamic Academy case [xi] are clear examples of governmental interference. Also, in 2016, Union of India vs. Shyam Narayan Chouksey, the government made it compulsory that all cinemas are bound to play the national anthem and other necessary information before starting any movie. [xii]

In the recent Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi case, the Hon’ble Apex Court took action on Suo Motu and bound all media handles to not question or debate on this topic. [xiii]

The retired judges were also part of the crowd questioning this case.

In another recent event, the government made it necessary for all private labs to conduct COVID tests without any fee and this might be a suitable example of judicial overreach. [xiv]

Although government reserves the right to set any charge fee for private labs and under the Essential Commodities Act, it can make any propositions.

 

Suo Motu | Conclusion

One should clearly understand the limitations and dissimilarity between “judicial adventurism” and “judicial activism”. Suo Motu is the utmost need of society and the state. It states the supremacy of law and the benefit of the public above all. Judicial interference should not create a hindrance to public betterment and justice. It should not be applicable on executives and legislatures. Courts and executives should have a clear boundary, and there should be clear rules and regulations to deal with any situation in which judicial overreach seems like a solution. Judiciary is a much needed and praised part of our system, but this vital part has also overused its powers at times, which keeps it under question from time to time. If governments want to earn the trust of the public, then they should keep a clear eye on the doings of the judiciary. A balance between the judicial acts and the demands of the public will lead to a better society based on faith and regulations.

 
 

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REFERENCES

[1] Mahua Moitra Versus Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) No.470 of 2020]

[2] IN   RE   CONTAGION   OF   COVID   19   VIRUS   IN   CHILDREN PROTECTION HOMES [Suo Moto Writ Petition (Civil) No.4 of 2020]

[3] IN RE: CONTAGION OF COVID 19 VIRUS IN PRISONS [Suo Moto Writ Petition (Civil) No.1 of 2020]

[4] IN RE: REGARDING CLOSURE OF MID-DAY MEAL SCHEME [Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.2 of 2020]

[5] IN RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION [Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2020]

[6] Writ Petition (PIL) No.42 of 2020 [Suo Moto Versus State of Gujarat & Ors.]

[7] IN RE. POISONOUS GAS LEAKAGE IN VISAKHAPATNAM [Suo Motu WP (PIL) No.112 of 2020]

[8] M.C. Mehta versus Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) No.4677 of 1985]

[9]  Rameshwar Prasad & Ors. Versus Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No.257 of 2005]

[10] T.M.A. Pai Foundation Versus State of Karnataka [Writ Petition (Civil) No.317 of 1993]

[11]  Islamic Academy of Education & Anr. Versus State of Karnataka [Writ Petition (Civil) No.350 of 1993]

[12]  Shyam Narayan Chouksey Versus Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) 855 of 2016]

[13]  IN RE: MATTER OF GREAT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE TOUCHING UPON THE INDEPENDANCE OF JUDICIARY- MENTIONED BY SHRI TUSHAR MEHTA, SOLICITOR GENERAL OF INDIA [Suo Moto Writ Petition (Civil) No.1 of 2019]

[14] Shashank Deo Sudhi versus Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) Diary No.10816 of 2020]


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