Hopes that the justice system would shield the nation from a dystopian abyss are fading.
“All the rights guaranteed to citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bull, unless guaranteed by an independent and virtuous judiciary,” said US President Andrew Jackson in 1822. Those were heady days when the statesmen did not only make declarations of principle. but lived by them.
Today, we are on more fragile ground. The hairline cracks that became visible during the rush in the infamous Habeas Corpus case, when a Supreme Court bench ruled 4-1 in favor of the state’s right to unlimited detention powers, have deepened over the years, but the Supreme Court has redeemed itself from time to time. time with a landmark judgment that kept hope alive. Hope that whenever the nation gets too close to a dystopian abyss, the Supreme Court will pull it out.
This hope is receding, the cracks are widening. Lower courts routinely hand down socially regressive rulings. In two recent verdicts, the Supreme Court has surprisingly suggested that the petitioners be prosecuted! In another, he overturned the basic legal principle that a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. As a result, the executive takes precedence over the judiciary. This number of First line brings together esteemed legal minds to analyze these disturbing developments.
From the Habeas Corpus case of 1976, The New York Times wrote: “The submission of an independent judiciary to an absolutist government is virtually the last step in the destruction of a democratic society.
We cannot repeat it too often.