What is Judicial Review | Meaning | Full Analysis

Judicial review is defined as the doctrine that executive and legislative actions are reviewed by the judiciary. Although the principle of separation of powers of the three arms of the state, namely the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, prevails in India. The judiciary is vested with the power to review the activities of the other two arms.

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What is Judicial Review (Meaning)

Judicial review is considered a basic structure of the Constitution (Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain case).
Judicial review is the power of the courts to assess the constitutionality of acts of government bodies and to declare them unconstitutional if they violate or conflict with the basic principles of the Constitution.
This means that the legislature’s power to make laws is not absolute and that the validity and constitutionality of such laws are subject to judicial review.
Judicial review is also called the interpretative and observational role of the Indian judiciary.
The Indian Constitution adopted judicial review under the US Constitution.
Suo Moto and Public Interest Litigation (PIL) cases ending Locus Standi have allowed the judiciary to intervene in many public affairs even when there is no complaint from the aggrieved party.

Judicial review, the power of a country’s courts to examine the actions of the legislative, executive, and administrative branches of government and determine whether such actions are constitutional. Measures that are judged to be inconsistent are declared unconstitutional and therefore invalid.

Judicial Review in The Indian Constitution

According to Article 13(2), the Union or the States shall not make any law which takes away or abridges any of the fundamental rights. And any law made in contravention of the above mandate is void to the extent of the violation.

Judicial review is required to ensure and protect the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution.
The power of the Supreme Court of India to enforce these rights is derived from Article 32 of the Constitution. This gives citizens the right to apply directly to the Supervisory Committee for redress against violations of fundamental rights.

The Constitution of India has influence over the higher courts and the Supreme Court of India to review the legitimacy of administrative measures and statutes. The main subject of judicial review is the protection of the rights of the public and the exercise of fundamental rights. If there is any trouble between the state and the center then Article 246 and Schedule 7 of the Constitution have marked the working zone for the construction of regulation between the state and the center.


  • Judicial review is necessary to preserve the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution.
  • The provision of judicial review prevents abuse of power by the legislature and the executive.
  • It maintains the balance between the center and the state thereby maintaining the federal balance.
  • The provision protects the fundamental rights of the Indian citizens.
  • This provision ensures the principle of judicial independence.

Types of Judicial Review

It can be divided into three categories. They are:

  • Review of Legislative Actions. This review includes the power to ensure that laws passed by the legislature are consistent with the provisions of the Constitution.
  • Review of administrative measures. This is a tool for enforcing constitutional discipline over administrative authorities in the exercise of their powers.
  • Review of Judicial Decisions: It is seen in Golaknath case, bank nationalization case, Minerva Mills case, purse abolition case etc.

Judicial Review in Administrative Law

Administrative law was recognized as a separate body of legal discipline in the middle of 20th century in India. Until the nineteenth century, the responsibilities of the state were small and limited. Consisting of the maintenance of public order, the conduct of foreign affairs, and the deployment of armed forces. Nowadays, it is much different. In order to protect the public and maintain public order, the state intervenes in the lives of its citizens to a very significant extent. Actions that are carried out under administrative law are called administrative actions. An administrative action is a legal proceeding that concerns the actions of a public administration body. This kind of action can compel the authority to take certain action. It does not decide the law, although it can influence the law. The principles of natural justice cannot be ignored in the exercise of ‘administrative powers’.

Judicial Review Examples

IT Act Section 66(A):-  In 2015, the ÚS repealed Section 66(A) of the amended Information Technology Act of 2000. It established a penalty for sending “offensive” messages via a computer or other communication device such as a mobile phone or tablet. Conviction can result in a maximum of three years in prison and a fine. This was canceled by the Supreme Court on the grounds that this paragraph does not fall under Article 19, paragraph 2 of the Constitution, which concerns freedom of expression.

Golaknath Case (1967):-  The question in this case was whether the amendment was a law; and whether fundamental rights can be changed or not. The SC was satisfied that the fundamental rights were not subject to parliamentary restrictions. As stated in Article 13 and that a new Constituent Assembly would be needed to amend the fundamental rights. He also said that Article 368 lays down the procedure for amending the constitution but does not confer the power on parliament to amend the constitution.

Doctrine of Judicial Review

The doctrine of judicial review is essentially the power of the judiciary to decide on the constitutional validity of acts of other branches of government (executive and legislative). The object is to amend any such acts which may be unconstitutional. For example, if any act of the legislatures is such as to negate the provisions mentioned in the constitution, it is important that it be declared void. This requires the body to have the power or power to articulate such acts as emptiness.

This is where the importance of the aforementioned doctrine becomes apparent. Therefore, if the legislative bodies act contrary to the supreme law, the judiciary can also intervene and decide on the constitutional validity of such a law.

Justice Khanna in the case of Fundamental Rights or Kesvananda Bharti v. State of Kerala spoke about the importance of judicial review in this day and age. He added that judicial review has become an important part of our Indian constitution. It was further said that the High Courts and the Supreme Court have been vested with power to decide the constitutionality of provisions in various Acts. In case the provisions of any laws are observed to be contrary to any of the articles of the Indian constitution, which is standard for the legitimacy of all the laws. The High Court and the Supreme Court have power to strike down such provisions.

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The Hon’ble Supreme Court has a privileged position which empowers it to review legislative enactments made by Parliament and State Legislatures. This power gives the court powers of judicial review. There are several provisions in the Constitution of India (as mentioned above) which provide for judicial review. The court has the duty to determine the possible unconstitutionality of the law adopted by the legislature and to correctly understand the provisions and objectives of the Constitution.

In L. Chandra Kumar Vs. Union Of India And Others (1997) the question was raised. Whether the exclusion of jurisdiction of the High Court through Article 323 A(2)(a) d) and Article 323. It letter opposition to the doctrine of judicial review which was essentially a primary feature of the Constitution of India? While the court, arriving at the decision, took different references for Eg. Administrative Courts Act with the Sampat Kumar judgment & constitutional debates. Assembly. The Court, after carefully examining each event, concluded that judicial review is indeed a fundamental feature of the Indian Constitution.

In addition, the Court also considered the views of Dr. B. R. Ambedkara, who was the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. On Article 25 (present Article 32), where he argued that this Article is the very soul of the Indian Constitution. The seven-member Constitutional Court further stated that “the power of judicial review of legislative measures conferred on the High Courts under Article 226. And the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution is an integral and essential feature of the Constitution. Which is part of its basic structure.”


Judicial review is not absolute as certain conditions have to be met to challenge any law in the Supreme Court or High Courts. Law can only be challenged if:

  • The aforementioned law interferes with fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.
  • The law is in conflict with the provisions mentioned in the constitution.
  • The law that was passed exceeds the competence of the body that created it.

read also:- Indian Divorce Act 1869


Here in India we have adopted the concept of separation of powers. So we cannot take the power of judicial review in a fully expanded form. If the courts assume a full and arbitrary power of judicial review, it will lead to poor performance by all government agencies. For all functions to work properly, each must work in its own provided realm. In India, we have the concept of judicial review enshrined in the basic structure of the Constitution. It helps the courts to keep checks and balances on the other two branches of government. So that they don’t abuse their power and work in accordance with the constitution.

The functions of the judicial review is one of the important powerful system in the Constitution of India. This doctrine absolutely has its roots in India and has express sanction in the Constitution of India.

The judicial review process functions as the guardian of the Constitution while ensuring the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Moreover, it also divides power between the union and the states. Itclearly defines the functions of each body functioning in the nation. We developed the concept of judicial review and it became part of the basic structure in the case of Minerva Mills V. Union of India. So finally, it is correct to say that judicial review has grown to protect individual right, stop the exercise of arbitrary power and prevent miscarriage of justice.

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