India’s Constitution a living document, not relic cast in stone, says president

Bhopal : President Pranab Mukherjee said Saturday that the Constitution of India is a living document and should not be treated or seen as a relic cast in stone.

Inaugurating the Fourth Retreat of Judges of the Supreme Court at the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal today, President Mukherjee said the retreat will provide a forum to discuss contemporary challenges that the country faces today along with global and transnational elements of legal disputes and adjudication.

He said discussion and reflection of this nature is important, as well as necessary, to enable judges keep pace with times and be able to deliver fair and effective justice in a rapidly changing world.

The president described the judiciary as one of the three important pillars of India’s democracy, and as the final interpreter of the Constitution and laws.

“It helps in maintaining the social order by swiftly and effectively dealing with those on the wrong side of the law. As an upholder of the Rule of Law and enforcer of the right to liberty, the role of the judiciary is sacrosanct. The faith and confidence people have reposed in the judiciary must always be maintained. For justice to have meaning to the people, it must be accessible, affordable and quick,” he said.

“We have a written Constitution in India, which is a living document, not a relic cast in stone. It is a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation. The apex court of India has continuously been interpreting the mandate for good governance enshrined in the Constitution on the altar of contemporary situations and challenges facing the country, whether due to global winds of change or from within,” he added.

“This has not been merely an exercise in interpretation of laws or legal order, much less an exercise in edifying jurisprudence; it has captured the ethos of our developing society as it has evolved from the colonial shackles to a social order replete with the essence of human dignity, of aspirations of a populace maturing into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic as mandated by the makers of our Constitution,” he said.

The President said given the circumstances of our developing country, our judiciary has enlarged the scope of justice. For the enforcement of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court through judicial innovation and activism has expanded the common law principle of ‘locus standi’. It has been made possible for courts to permit anyone with sufficient interest and acting bonafide to maintain an action for judicial redress, and to activate the judicial process.

He emphasized that at the same time, judicial activism should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers. Each organ of our democracy must function within its own sphere and must not take over what is assigned to the others.

“The balance of power between the three organs of the state is enshrined in our Constitution. The Constitution is supreme. The equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times,” the President said. (ANI)