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Report No. 58

Contended Judiciary essential for Rule of Law

10.44. We wish to emphasise that a contended Judiciary satisfied with the terms and conditions of service and at peace with itself, can be a source of incalculable significance for sustaining the Rule of Law in a true democratic manner, and helping Indian democracy in its march towards the ideal set before it by our Constitution.

In this connection, it is pertinent to recall what Justice Holmes said about the ambiguity of words Holmes said:1

"A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in colour and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used; Lamar v. United States, 240 US 60 (65): 60 L ED 526 (528): 36 Sup OC 5 Rep 255."

In particular, when words are used in socio-economic legislation, they sometimes appear to be ambiguous vehicles of thoughts or ideas. On such occasions, blind reliance on the dictionary of a mechanical application of the rules of grammar may not help. What will assist in the judicial process of discovering the true and full meaning of the words is the vision of the Judge and his awareness of what Justice Holmes described, "as the major inarticulate premises".

Thus, when socio-economic welfare legislation is placed on the Statute Book, it is the judicial' interpretation which makes much legislation meaningful, and thereby facilitates its easy and effective implementation. We feel confident that if the function of the judiciary of considering the validity of legislative or executive actions and of interpreting the true intention of legislative enactments is considered in this perspective, all shades of opinion will readily accept the modest and the moderate recommendations which we have made in this Chapter.

1. Towne v. Eianer, (1917) 245 US 247: 60 L Ed 372 (376).

Structure and Jurisdiction of the Higher Judiciary Back

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