The Supreme Court of India, established under the Constitution, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding and interpreting the Constitution of India. As the highest judicial authority in the country, the Supreme Court acts as the guardian of the Constitution, ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and the proper interpretation and enforcement of its provisions. This paper examines the multifaceted role of the Supreme Court in upholding and interpreting the Constitution, focusing on its functions as an interpreter, protector of fundamental rights, guardian of federalism, and promoter of social justice.
The Supreme Court possesses the power of judicial review, allowing it to review the constitutionality of laws and executive actions. Through this power, the Court ensures that the government operates within the constitutional limits and prevents any violation of fundamental rights. It has the authority to strike down any law or action that is found to be inconsistent with the Constitution, thereby safeguarding the rights and liberties of individuals. Furthermore, the Court's interpretations of the Constitution have provided stability and continuity to the constitutional framework of India. Notably, the doctrine of basic structure, established in the Kesavananda Bharati case, restricts the Parliament's amending power, ensuring the preservation of essential constitutional principles.
The Supreme Court's role extends beyond interpreting the Constitution to actively protecting and enforcing fundamental rights. Through Public Interest Litigation (PIL), any individual or organization can approach the Court directly to seek judicial intervention in matters of public importance. This jurisdiction has been instrumental in addressing issues related to environmental protection, gender equality, right to education, and access to justice. The Court has been proactive in safeguarding the rights of marginalized sections of society and holding the government accountable.
In addition to protecting fundamental rights, the Supreme Court serves as the guardian of federalism in India. It adjudicates disputes between the central government and state governments, ensuring a harmonious and cooperative relationship between them. The Court's interventions have played a vital role in maintaining the balance between the centre and the states, preserving the federal structure of the country.