ISSN (O) : 2584-1378


AUTHOR’S NAME: Manasa Raj Bethala
UNIVERSITY - Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University



The role of judges in the Indian legal system is pivotal, as they serve as the guardians of justice, interpreting and applying the law to ensure a fair and equitable society. Through landmark judgments, the judiciary in India has played a crucial role in shaping legal precedents and upholding the principles enshrined in the Constitution. This introduction delves into specific case laws that illustrate the multifaceted responsibilities and powers vested in judges within the Indian legal framework.

  • KesavanandaBharati v. State of Kerala (1973): In this historic case, the Supreme Court of India established the doctrine of “basic structure” of the Constitution. The judgment clarified that while Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution, it cannot alter its basic structure. This case underscores the role of judges in safeguarding the fundamental principles of the Constitution, ensuring its integrity and resilience.
  • Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): The Maneka Gandhi case is a watershed moment in the realm of personal liberty in India. The Supreme Court, in its judgment, expanded the scope of Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) by interpreting it as a repository of various fundamental rights. This case exemplifies the judiciary’s role in evolving the interpretation of constitutional provisions to protect individual freedoms.
  • Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997): The Vishaka case marked a significant development in the jurisprudence related to gender justice. The Supreme Court, through this judgment, laid down guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. Judges, in this instance, assumed a proactive role in addressing societal issues, demonstrating their commitment to fostering a just and equal society.
  • Roe v. Wade of India (2019): A contemporary example is the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Navtej Singh Johar v.Union of India. This case reflects the judiciary’s role in adapting to evolving societal norms and ensuring that constitutional rights extend to all citizens, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

These cases exemplify the dynamic role of judges in interpreting the law, protecting fundamental rights, and shaping the legal landscape in India. As we delve deeper into understanding the nuances of their functions, it becomes evident that judges act as custodians of justice, not only upholding the law but also guiding the nation towards a more equitable and inclusive future.Judges possess extensive discretionary authority, allowing them to independently adjudicate matters without the need for consultation with legislative or executive branches. Their primary duty involves the execution and interpretation of laws, and they function as de facto lawmakers when circumstances demand new legislation or amendments to suit the dynamic needs of Indian society. The judiciary’s core objective is to decipher legal principles and deliver justice to individuals seeking redress when laws are violated.

In essence, judges play a pivotal role in upholding the rule of law, possessing the power to make informed decisions autonomously. While their primary responsibility is interpreting and applying existing laws, they also act as catalysts for legislative action, prompting the creation of new laws when necessary. This dynamic relationship between the judiciary and the legislative branch ensures a responsive legal system that adapts to evolving societal needs.

When individuals seek justice for law violations, judges act as impartial arbiters, extending their role beyond mere execution to actively shaping legal landscapes. In this intricate interplay of judicial functions, the judiciary emerges as a cornerstone in the preservation of order and the protection of individual rights.


The judiciary in India assumes diverse functions that collectively define its pivotal role in the legal and constitutional framework. Primarily tasked with the administration of justice, judges apply the law to specific cases and resolve disputes by examining evidence. In instances where the application of existing laws proves challenging, judges contribute to the development of ‘judge-made law’ or ‘case law,’ drawing on their wisdom to establish precedent.

As the guardian of the Constitution, particularly exemplified by the Supreme Court, the judiciary resolves conflicts of jurisdiction between the central and state governments and addresses disputes between the legislative and executive branches. Through judicial review, the courtsensure the constitutionality of laws and executive orders, upholding fundamental rights and maintaining a delicate federal balance.

The judiciary also protects fundamental rights, actively preventing encroachment upon individual liberties by the State or other entities. Beyond these functions, the judiciary assumes supervisory roles over subordinate courts, engages in advisory functions, and handles non-judicial administrative tasks.

In the unique context of India’s federal system, the judiciary acts as a key arbiter, settling disputes between the central and state governments and playing a crucial role in maintaining the federation’s harmony. Judges are often entrusted with leading commissions that conduct inquiries into cases involving errors or omissions by public servants, showcasing the judiciary’s commitment to accountability and transparency.


Judges’ fundamental responsibility revolves around the implementation and interpretation of laws. Their role extends beyond mere adjudication, transforming them into de facto lawmakers when the need arises for new legislation or modifications to align with societal dynamics. In these instances, judges play a proactive role in influencing legal frameworks, ensuring adaptability to the ever-changing needs of society. This dual function underscores their vital role in shaping and refining the legal landscape to meet the demands of a progressive and equitable society.


The Indian judiciary comprises various tiers, each serving distinct functions. The Supreme Court holds original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction, dealing with disputes between the Centre and States or among States, enforcing fundamental rights, and setting legal precedents. High Courts primarily exercise writ and appellate jurisdiction, while District Courts handle judicial matters at the district level. Additionally, lower courts, including Munsif courts, address original jurisdiction with limited pecuniary capacity.Specialized Commercial Courts and Tribunals focus on specific disputes, ensuring expertise and expedited justice. Notably, Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms, such as LokAdalats, provide voluntary, speedy dispute resolution. TheArbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, governs arbitration procedures, with recent amendments enhancing efficiency and introducing the Arbitration Council of India.


A judge in India should embody a combination of legal acumen, ethical integrity, and effective communication. Possessing a profound understanding of legal principles, statutes, and precedents is fundamental, accompanied by the ability to remain impartial and objective in the face of diverse legal challenges. Upholding a high standard of integrity and ethical conduct is paramount, ensuring trust in the legal system. Sound judgment, analytical skills, and the capacity to make well-reasoned decisions under pressure are crucial attributes. Effective communication skills, both in articulating legal reasoning and engaging with diverse stakeholders, contribute to the transparency and accessibility of the justice system. Patience, resilience, and empathy are essential in navigating emotionally charged proceedings and diverse backgrounds of those involved. A commitment to continual learning, courage to make just decisions even when unpopular, and leadership skills to manage courtrooms effectively round out the qualities that make a judge in India effective in administering justice and upholding the rule of law.


In conclusion, the Indian judiciary is a vital component of the country’s legal and constitutional framework. Judges’ autonomous and diverse functions guarantee the administration of justice, with a comprehensive justice system facilitated by the hierarchical court structure. The judiciary’s flexibility and dedication to accountability highlight its critical role in maintaining the rule of law and promoting justice in India.

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