Article 142 of the Constitution

Article 142 of the Constitution

News: The Supreme Court recently quashed the result of the January 30 Chandigarh Mayor election after finding that the presiding officer had deliberately invalidated eight ballots.

About
• The court used its power under Article 142 of the Constitution to do “complete justice” and protect the sanctity of electoral democracy.
• Article 142 of the Constitution: Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc
• Article 142 of the Indian Constitution allows the Court to pass any necessary decree or order to do “complete justice” in any cause or matter pending before it.
• It empowers the Supreme Court with a unique and vast power known as “suo moto jurisdiction.”

Key Features
• Discretionary Power: The Court has the sole discretion to invoke Article 142, based on its understanding of “complete justice” in a particular case.
• Wide Scope: It applies to any case, irrespective of the subject matter or legal provisions involved.
• Binding Order: Any decree or order passed under Article 142 is enforceable throughout India.

Significance
• Ensuring Justice Beyond Law: Article 142 empowers the Court to address situations where existing laws and procedures lack adequate remedies.
• Promoting Social Justice: The Court has used Article 142 to address issues like prison reforms, environmental protection, and the rights of marginalized communities.
o Landmark judgments like the Vishaka Guidelines and the right to education involved its invocation.
• Flexibility and Adaptability: Unlike rigid laws, the Court can tailor its orders under Article 142 to specific circumstances, enabling dynamic responses to evolving situations.
• Deterrence and Enforcement: The Court’s ability to take suo moto action can deter potential violations of fundamental rights and act as a powerful enforcement mechanism for upholding existing laws.

Criticism of Article 142
• Arbitrary: It is argued that the court has wide discretion, and this allows the possibility of its arbitrary exercise or misuse.
• Ambiguous: Defining “complete justice” is a subjective exercise that differs in its interpretation from case to case. Thus, the court has to place checks on itself.
• Not Accountable: Another criticism of the powers under Article 142 is that unlike the legislature and the executive, the judiciary cannot be held accountable for its actions.
• Judicial Overreach: Critics argue that the broad power granted by Article 142 can lead the Court to overstep its boundaries, intruding into the domain of the legislature and executive.
• Violates separation of powers doctrine: The power has been criticised on grounds of the separation of powers doctrine, which says that the judiciary should not venture into areas of lawmaking and that it would invite the possibility of judicial overreach.  

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