The government tried to tell the court that these are policy matters that are beyond the realm of the court and even raised it as an issue of judiciary versus executive. The government used all opportunities that came its way to create a controversy over jurisdictions. Though in an unrelated case, Attorney General K K Venugopal told SC that no matter what orders the court might pass, Parliament has the powers to neutralise these.
But the bench headed by Justice Chandrachud, who was himself out of action for a while as he tested positive for COVID, refused to buy the government’s argument and made it clear it could not remain a silent spectator when executive policies infringed on constitutional rights of the people.
The court acted decisively although it ran the risk of being blamed for over-reach, which has become a regular narrative in view of the government showing an increasing tendency of shirking its responsibilities in crucial situations, whether it is dealing with consequences of the ill-timed lockdown or irrational decisions relating to black money or the introduction of GST.
The Constitution itself can be read in different ways. One approach is to see it as the sum total of a narrow reading of the statute clause by clause, which is what the government has been trying to do. The other approach is to look at the statute as a value system that is inherent in the whole body of the statute. The court has increasingly been showing an inclination towards the latter view.