India’s Democracy at 70: The Disputed Role of the Courts


India’s Supreme Court has played the role of a countermajoritarian check but has also flirted with populism. This essay examines three aspects of India’s higher judiciary: the struggle between the judiciary and the other branches over “custody” of the Constitution; the question of judicial independence and who has the right to appoint judges (in India, uniquely, the higher courts claim a right to have the final say on filling their own vacancies); and the charges against the Supreme Court of judicial activism, which are tied to the institution of Public-Interest Litigation and regular judicial forays into the executive and legislative domains.