Curb in legislature’s power due to Judicial Pronouncements


The Indian Constitution is given primacy according to our constitutional law. This claim is justified by the idea that none of the three constitutionally recognised spheres of authority—the legislative, executive, and judicial—can intrude on the territory of another. As a result, the court has the final say in defining and interpreting the law, and the legislature is not free to ignore the judgements of a court of law. The judiciary defends the Constitution and citizens’ rights against the legislature’s arbitrary actions and executive. It is the judiciary that gives a meaning to existing provision of a statute by interpreting it in order to resolve the problem in a case at hand where the concerned law has become irrelevant or is insufficient to meet the needs of the time. The judiciary too has repeatedly been accused of going beyond its authority and encroaching on the territory of other governmental agencies. This study work has critically examined a number of the problem’s elements.


The legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the democratic system of government work together to carry out a variety of duties. Legislators enact laws. The executive, also referred to as government, creates policies, upholds the rule of law, and implements the law. The judiciary interprets the law and resolves disputes in conformity with the law. The doctrine of separation of powers was developed to prevent the consolidation of authority in a single branch of government, which would lead to arbitrary behaviour and anarchy. According to this idea, no one government organ should assume the responsibilities of another organ or intrude upon the authority of another organ.


The judiciary has two jobs: first, it adjudicates cases brought before it in line with the law of the land, and second, it interprets the law pertinent to the issue at hand. A judge creates a law by giving meaning to the words of the legislator by interpreting a statute or constitutional provision in accordance with the terms they employed. He gives these words life and produces or moulds a body of law that is appropriate for the situation at hand. He chooses the precise shade and content of the legislative language. Thus, in the process of interpreting a law, the court serves as legislation. This is a key function of the judiciary because a law’s limited generality cannot and does not foresee the whims of life. A law as designed and implemented by the legislature is unlikely to be able to reach every nook and cranny of the circumstance to which it is intended to apply or to correct and mend the wrongdoing for which it is intended.

The sole basis for judicial lawmaking is the imaginative interpretation of fundamental texts like the Constitution and legislation. The judiciary lacks the authority to make laws apart from those outlined in the founding documents. As a result, the judiciary’s ability to pass legislation is limited.


An essential body that participates in the creation of policy is the legislature. The primary entity in India that creates laws and policies by outlining justifications for such choices is the Parliament. It serves as a forum for public discussion of the problems and the appropriate solutions. By virtue of its elected members, who derive their authority from the Indian Constitution, the parliament is the supreme body when it comes to deciding on a policy. We need rules and policies to effectively run a nation. The legislative’s role is to create the laws and policies that will guide the country. This function is primarily addressed by the Union Parliament. The Indian Constitution establishes two houses, the Lower House (Lok Sabha) and the Upper House (Rajya Sabha), to ensure that these duties are carried out as required. Together, these houses make sure that the government’s legislative duties are adequately carried out by passing pertinent legislation and establishing citizen-friendly policies.

We know that Separation of Power exists in India but Can the Legislature overturn a Judicial Pronouncement by a similar Subsequent Legislation?

The answer to the above question has two aspects:

[1] No piece of legislation can overturn a court decision.

There are various instances where no piece of legislation can overturn a court decision.

a) Inter-Parties: It is not possible for the legislature to directly overturn a court’s ruling (other than altering the very basis of such earlier decision, as stated below). It is also common knowledge that a person or group of people cannot have their rights and obligations under a decision revoked by a subsequent legislative act. Legislature does not have the authority to annul civil court judgements or orders or judicial rulings by simply declaring in a law it passed that such judgements or rulings are no longer valid or binding on the parties because such a declaration would interfere with the authority of the judiciary, which a Legislature is not allowed to do. One of the major case which deal with this is Re Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

b) Judgements that interpret the law: It will be against the idea of the separation of powers for the legislature to act in a way that amounts to exercising the judicial power and to serve in that capacity as an appeals court or tribunal. Such an act by the legislature would lead to a violation of principles laid down in the Constitution. This particular principle was laid down in the Medical Council of India v. State of Kerela.

No law may be enacted, and the Constitution may not be amended, that departs from the basic structure doctrine. Different agencies place checks and balances on one another, but they are not allowed to trample on one another’s duties. As a result, the legislature examines the executive’s performance while the judiciary conducts judicial review of legislative and executive activity. In a few instances, the courts have used their rulings to issue laws and policy-related decrees.

The role of the legislature is to “make” law, not to “declare” what the law should be. A legislative act must unavoidably be deemed unconstitutional if its goal is to overturn a court decision. Law is made up of both court precedents and legislative enactments. According to Article 141 of the Constitution, the law that the Apex Court declared is the law of the land.

It is also crucial that when the legislative gap is filled, the authority of law under Article 141 also disappears. It cannot be interpreted as giving authority to disregard express law prohibitions. In order to accomplish the goals of justice, the authorities under Article 141 are added to fill the gap left by an insufficient statute.

[2] Legislature can interfere with Judgement in some cases: There have been some recent instances of the legislature overturning judicial pronouncements by passing laws with retrospective effect. It is open for the legislature, in a limited sphere, to interfere with the judicial pronouncements.

a) If a court’s decision is based on a law that was already in effect when the decision was made, the legislature is free to pass a new law or amend an existing one with retroactive effect. This may fundamentally alter the very foundation of the earlier decision, and it may be requested to be applied in an appeal from that judgement. It was laid down in S.T. Sadiq Vs. State of Kerala & Janapada Sabha Chhindwara v. Central Provinces Syndicate

b) It is up to the legislature to fix any flaws that the courts have uncovered or identified that make a certain piece of legislation inefficient or otherwise unconstitutional. Additionally, it might be done to support a specific statute or to put a law’s intended goal into practise. The constitutional restrictions should not be violated in this case either by the new law or amendment.

c) The legislature is also free to codify a ruling, as it did in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act of 1986 following the Shah Bano Case . The Supreme Court ruled in Danial Latifi Vs. Union of India that the Act “actually and in actuality” codified what was said in the Shah Bano Case. (It had been criticised that the 1986 Act passed by the Indian Parliament “reversed” or at the very least “diluted” the Shah Bano Case ruling.)

The Customs Amendment and Validation Bill, 2011, which retroactively authorises all duties and actions carried out by specific customs employees who were not allowed to perform the aforementioned acts under the Customs Act, was passed by the Parliament on September 7, 2011. In the 2011 case Commissioner of Customs v. Sayed Ali, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to some of the levied duties. The Supreme Court invalidated the imposition of duties because they were levied by unqualified individuals. The Customs Bill of 2011 allowed certain authorities to retroactively levy customs, including those that the SC had ruled were unlawful, in order to get around the ruling and change the Act. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2009, which was converted into an Act, is another instance of the legislature rejecting the Supreme Court’s ruling. The Supreme Court had held that the statutory minimum price (SMP) and an additional sum of profits that the mills share with farmers must be included in the price at which the Center purchases sugar from the mill. The Amendment gave the Centre the option to forgo the SMP in favour of a fair and remunerative price (FRP). It also eliminated the need to pay the additional sum. The modification was applicable to every purchase of sugar made by the Center from 1974. The modification effectively nullified the Court’s ruling. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2010, was an attempt by the executive to circumvent the ruling of the Apex Court. The Custodian of Enemy Property had received a letter from the court ordering them to turn over certain properties to the owner’s legitimate successor. The Executive then adopted an Ordinance mandating the return to the Custodian of any assets that had been taken from him by a court order and given to his legal heirs. After the Ordinance expired, a Bill was presented to Parliament.

Courts are not permitted to enter areas reserved for the Legislature. The courts must exercise adequate constraint and prudence in order to prevent judicial adventurism from developing. Remember that the government cannot be ruled by the courts. The Constitution of India was never meant to be a rigid document. It has always been of an evolving nature. A subsequent legislation can overturn the judicial pronouncements because the interpretation & evolutionary work can be taken by both the legislature & the courts. At different time we realise that there is a need for different things in the society. It is open to the legislature to remove causes of ineffectiveness or invalidity of a particular legislation in the existing law, or to remove the defect which the courts had found or pointed out. It can also be done to validate a particular law or for the implementation of the purpose sought to be achieved by the enactment. Even in the 1970s, the right to privacy was a topic of discussion, but at that time, the court refused to accept any law on the subject. However, in 2017, the court did recognise such legislation. In an evolving document it is very normal to have a conflict about it.


The legislature has frequently introduced Amendments to a specific Act in defiance of court rulings. Several times, the judiciary has intervened in the unclear areas where its authority differs from that of the government and the legislative. The Indian constitution does not expressly codify the notion of separation of powers. In fact, it might be challenging to define a clear boundary separating the two. However, it might be required for each of the State’s pillars to develop a sound custom that honours the purview of the others.

Article by Vaishnavi Singh









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