Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 6

Judicial Review Related Abstracts

6 Rethinking the Constitutionality of Statutes: Rights-Compliant Interpretation in India and the UK

Authors: Chintan Chandrachud


When primary legislation is challenged for breaching fundamental rights, many courts around the world adopt interpretive techniques to avoid finding such legislation incompatible or invalid. In the UK, these techniques find sanction in section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which directs courts to interpret legislation in a manner which is compatible with European Convention rights, ‘so far as it is possible to do so’. In India, courts begin with the interpretive presumption that Parliament intended to comply with fundamental rights under the Constitution of 1949. In comparing rights-compliant interpretation of primary legislation under the Human Rights Act and the Indian Constitution, this paper makes two arguments. First, that in the absence of a section 3-type mandate, Indian courts have a smaller range of interpretive tools at their disposal in interpreting primary legislation in a way which complies with fundamental rights. For example, whereas British courts frequently read words into statutes, Indian courts consider this an inapposite interpretive technique. The second argument flows naturally from the first. Given that Indian courts have a smaller interpretive toolbox, one would imagine that ceteris paribus, Indian courts’ power to strike down legislation would be triggered earlier than the declaration of incompatibility is in the UK. However, this is not borne out in practice. Faced with primary legislation which appears to violate fundamental rights, Indian courts often reluctantly uphold the constitutionality of statutes (rather than striking them down), as opposed to British courts, which make declarations of incompatibility. The explanation for this seeming asymmetry hinges on the difference between the ‘strike down’ power and the declaration of incompatibility. Whereas the former results in the disapplication of a statute, the latter throws the ball back into Parliament’s court, if only formally.

Keywords: Judicial Review, Constitutional Law, constitution of India, UK Human Rights Act

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5 Evaluating the Impact of Judicial Review of 2003 “Radical Surgery” Purging Corrupt Officials from Kenyan Courts

Authors: Charles A. Khamala


In 2003, constrained by an absent “rule of law culture” and negative economic growth, the new Kenyan government chose to pursue incremental judicial reforms rather than comprehensive constitutional reforms. President Mwai Kibaki’s first administration’s judicial reform strategy was two pronged. First, to implement unprecedented “radical surgery,” he appointed a new Chief Justice who instrumentally recommended that half the purportedly-corrupt judiciary should be removed by Presidential tribunals of inquiry. Second, the replacement High Court judges, initially, instrumentally-endorsed the “radical surgery’s” administrative decisions removing their corrupt predecessors. Meanwhile, retention of the welfare-reducing Constitution perpetuated declining public confidence in judicial institutions culminating in refusal by the dissatisfied opposition party to petition the disputed 2007 presidential election results, alleging biased and corrupt courts. Fatefully, widespread post-election violence ensued. Consequently, the international community prompted the second Kibaki administration to concede to a new Constitution. Suddenly, the High Court then adopted a non-instrumental interpretation to reject the 2003 “radical surgery.” This paper therefore critically analyzes whether the Kenyan court’s inconsistent interpretations–pertaining to the constitutionality of the 2003 “radical surgery” removing corruption from Kenya’s courts–was predicated on political expediency or human rights principles. If justice “must also seen to be done,” then pursuit of the CJ’s, Judicial Service Commission’s and president’s political or economic interests must be limited by respect for the suspected judges and magistrates’ due process rights. The separation of powers doctrine demands that the dismissed judges should have a right of appeal which entails impartial review by a special independent oversight mechanism. Instead, ignoring fundamental rights, Kenya’s new Supreme Court’s interpretation of another round of vetting under the new 2010 Constitution, ousts the High Court’s judicial review jurisdiction altogether, since removal of judicial corruption is “a constitutional imperative, akin to a national duty upon every judicial officer to pave way for judicial realignment and reformulation.”

Keywords: Corruption, Judicial Review, administrative decisions, fair hearing, (non) instrumental

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4 The Use of Foreign Law by the Constitutional Court of Taiwan: A Case-By-Case Analysis from 1990 to 2017

Authors: Mingsiang Chen


The increasing transactions among countries worldwide have brought about a trend of comparative law research in the legal community. An important branch of legal research, i.e., constitutional law, is no exception to the trend. The comparative study of constitutional law takes various forms, and one of these is to study the use of foreign law by constitutional courts. There are, in essence, three sources of foreign law usually used by constitutional courts: foreign constitutions, decisions by foreign constitutional courts, and legal theories developed by foreign scholars. There are two types of using foreign law by constitutional courts: citing any of the forenamed sources for reference purpose, ruling based on the contents or logic of any of the forenamed sources. This paper examines all the decisions handed down by the Constitutional Court of Taiwan from 1990 to 2017. Its purpose is to seek out the occasions, the extent, the significance, and the approach of such usage.

Keywords: Judicial Review, constitutional court, comparative constitutional law, Taiwan judiciary

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3 The Standard of Reasonableness in Fundamental Rights Adjudication under the Indian Constitution

Authors: Nandita Narayan


In most constitutional democracies, courts have been the gatekeepers of fundamental rights. The task of determining whether a violation is in fact justified, therefore, is judicial. Any state action, legislative or administrative, has to be tested by the application of two standards – first, the action must be within the scope of the authority conferred by law and, second, it must be reasonable. If any action, within the scope of the authority conferred by law is found to be unreasonable, it will be struck down as unconstitutional or ultra vires. This paper seeks to analyse the varying standards of reasonableness adopted by the Supreme Court of India where there is a violation of fundamental rights by state action. This is sought to be done by scrutinising case laws and classifying the legality of the violation under one of three levels of judicial scrutiny—strict, intermediate, or weak. The paper concludes by proving that there is an irregularity in the standards adopted, thus resulting in undue discretionary power of the judiciary which strikes at the very concept of reasonableness and ultimately becomes arbitrary in nature. This conclusion is reached by the comparison of reasonableness review of fundamental rights in other jurisdictions such as the USA and Canada.

Keywords: Judicial Review, Constitutional Law, India, Fundamental Rights, Reasonableness

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2 Separation of Powers and Judicial Review vis-a-vis Judicial Overreach in South Africa: A Critical Analysis

Authors: Linda Muswaka


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 ranks the Constitution as the Supreme law of the Republic. Law or conduct, inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency. The Constitution binds all persons and legislative, executive and judicial organs of the State at all levels of government. The Constitution embodies a Bill of Rights and expressly allows for judicial review. The introduction of a chapter of rights requires the judiciary to examine the decisions of the legislature and the executive. In a situation where these conflicts with the Bill of Rights, the judiciary have the constitutional power to overrule such decisions. In exercising its adjudicatory and interpretative powers, the judiciary sometimes arrives at unpopular decisions and accusations of judicial overreach are made. A problem, therefore, emerges on the issue of the separation of powers and judicial review. This paper proposes to, through the South African perspective, investigate the application of the doctrine of separation of powers and judicial review. In this regard, the qualitative method of research will be employed. The reason is that it is best suited to this type of study which entails a critical analysis of legal issues. The following findings are made: (i) a complete separation of powers is not possible. This is because some overlapping of the functions of the three branches of state are unavoidable; (ii) the powers vested in the judiciary does not make it more powerful than the executive and the legislature; (iii) interference by the judiciary in matters concerning other branches is not automatically, judicial overreach; and (iv) if both the executive and legislative organs of government adhere to their constitutional obligations there would be a decrease in the need for judicial interference through court adjudication. The researcher concludes by submitting that the judiciary should not derogate from their constitutionally mandated function of judicial review. The rationale being that that if the values contained in the Constitution are not scrupulously observed and their precepts not carried out conscientiously, the result will be a constitutional crisis of great magnitude.

Keywords: Constitution, Judicial Review, Separation of Powers, judicial overreach

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1 Implications of Social Rights Adjudication on the Separation of Powers Doctrine: Colombian Case

Authors: Mariam Begadze


Separation of Powers (SOP) has often been the most frequently posed objection against the judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights. Although a lot has been written to refute those, very rarely has it been assessed what effect the current practice of social rights adjudication has had on the construction of SOP doctrine in specific jurisdictions. Colombia is an appropriate case-study on this question. The notion of collaborative SOP in the 1991 Constitution has affected the court’s conception of its role. On the other hand, the trends in the jurisprudence have further shaped the collaborative notion of SOP. Other institutional characteristics of the Colombian constitutional law have played its share role as well. Tutela action, particularly flexible and fast judicial action for individuals has placed the judiciary in a more confrontational relation vis-à-vis the political branches. Later interventions through abstract review of austerity measures further contributed to that development. Logically, the court’s activism in this sphere has attracted attacks from political branches, which have turned out to be unsuccessful precisely due to court’s outreach to the middle-class, whose direct reliance on the court has turned into its direct democratic legitimacy. Only later have the structural judgments attempted to revive the collaborative notion behind SOP doctrine. However, the court-supervised monitoring process of implementation has itself manifested fluctuations in the mode of collaboration, moving into more managerial supervision recently. This is not surprising considering the highly dysfunctional political system in Colombia, where distrust seems to be the default starting point in the interaction of the branches. The paper aims to answer the question, what the appropriate judicial tools are to realize the collaborative notion of SOP in a context where the court has to strike a balance between the strong executive and the weak and largely dysfunctional legislative branch. If the recurrent abuse lies in the indifference and inaction of legislative branches to engage with political issues seriously, what are the tools in the court’s hands to activate the political process? The answer to this question partly lies in the court’s other strand of jurisprudence, in which it combines substantive objections with procedural ones concerning the operation of the legislative branch. The primary example is the decision on value-added tax on basic goods, in which the court invalidated the law based on the absence of sufficient deliberation in Congress on the question of the bills’ implications on the equity and progressiveness of the entire taxing system. The decision led to Congressional rejection of an identical bill based on the arguments put forward by the court. The case perhaps is the best illustration of the collaborative notion of SOP, in which the court refrains from categorical pronouncements, while does its bit for activating political process. This also legitimizes the court’s activism based on its role to counter the most perilous abuse in the Colombian context – failure of the political system to seriously engage with serious political questions.

Keywords: Judicial Review, Social Rights, Separation of Powers, Colombian constitutional court

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