Judicial Review: Meaning and Significance

This system in India has been guided by the principle of "process created by law," under which it has only one test, namely whether the law has been made with the procedures of law or not; if not, it will be deemed unconstitutional.

The constitution is the highest law in India, a country where the rule of law is observed. The Indian constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the Indian court system has the authority to overturn any laws that are passed that are in violation of the constitution's fundamental principles.

What is Judicial Review?

A judge reviews the legality of a decision or action through judicial review, which is a type of court hearing that typically, takes place in administrative court. Judicial review is an option when there are no practical ways to contest something. Judicial review is concerned with whether the law has been correctly applied and the proper processes have been followed.

  • In order to protect people's rights and liberties, judicial review is acknowledged as a vital prerequisite for the development of a novel civilization. The High Courts and the Supreme Court of India have a large amount of judicial review power.

The requirement of judicial review arises from Part III (the fundamental rights) of the Indian Constitution's specifically Article 13. It is declared that neither the state nor the union may adopt any regulations that limit or trample upon the fundamental liberties of the people. Any measure passed by the state legislature or the parliament that violates the terms of this article is null and void.

The theory known as "judicial review" refers to the process by which the judiciary examines executive and legislative actions. The court has the authority to examine decisions made by the executive and legislative branches of the government, even though India adheres to the principle of the separation of powers among the three branches of the government (executive, legislative, and judicial).

  • A fundamental component of the constitution is thought to be judicial review (Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain Case).

  • When a government act breaches or is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the Constitution, the courts have the authority to assess the constitutionality of such act and declare it unconstitutional.

  • This indicates that the legislature's ability to enact laws is not unqualified, and that the courts may review the legality and constitutionality of those legislation.

  • The interpretive and observational functions of the Indian court are sometimes referred to as judicial review.

  • Similar to the American Constitution, the Indian Constitution adopted judicial review.

  • With the repeal of the Locus Standi concept, Suo Moto cases and Public Interest Litigation (PIL) have permitted the judiciary to get involved in numerous public matters even when there isn't a clear legal basis for doing so.

History of Judicial Review

The judicial review power of the US Supreme Court is its most distinguishing quality. The judiciary is able to assess laws that might be in conflict with the nation's constitution because they are the guardians of that document. The Supreme Court first used the power of judicial review in the Marbury v. Madison decision (1803), which established the court's authority by restricting congressional authority by ruling that the legislation was unconstitutional.

  • The court found that William Marbury's appointment as a district court justice by the outgoing president, as opposed to the newly elected president at the time and his secretary of state, John Madison, was improper in this case. The secretary of state was thus the target of a writ of mandamus that he filed. The Supreme Court was given jurisdiction by the Judicial Legislation of 1789, but the Marshall court declared that the act was an unconstitutional expansion of the judiciary.

  • In terms of the possibility of judicial review, the Indian Constitution is more oriented toward the U.S. Constitution than the British one. In India, since the parliament is not supreme and cannot establish laws, any laws that are implemented are always subject to judicial scrutiny. In Britain, no court has the authority to declare any law passed by the British parliament to be unconstitutional.

Classification of Judicial Review

There are three classifications of Judicial Review-

  • Reviews of Legislative Actions: This examination implies the authority to make sure that the constitutional requirements are met by laws established by the legislature.

  • Reviews of Judicial Decision- This is evident in the Golaknath case, the bank nationalization case, the Minerva Mills case, the abolishment of privy purses case, etc.

  • Reviews of Administrative Actions- This is a method for maintaining constitutional authority over administrative agencies as they carry out their duties.

Importance of Judicial Review

The following are some reasons why judicial review is important:

  • To sustain the constitutional supremacy principle, judicial review is required.

  • The availability of judicial review prohibits the legislature and government from abusing their positions of authority.

  • It keeps the balance between the federal government's center and the states intact.

  • The clause safeguards citizens' fundamental rights.

  • The notion of the judiciary's independence is protected by this rule.


One of the most potent systems in our Indian Constitution is the judicial review mechanism. As a result, the notion of judicial review has a strong foundation in India and is explicitly sanctioned by the Indian constitution. All of our Indian laws expressly recognize the value of the judiciary and how it aids in maintaining control over the legislative and executive branches of both the federal government and the states. The judicial review system serves as the guardians of our constitution's protection, upholds each person's fundamental rights, allocates authority between the federal government and the states, and specifies the authority of each institution that runs the country. Thus, the government's activities are justified, and the Indian constitution is protected from any unwarranted intrusion by the government.


Q1. What is judicial review under Indian constitution?

Ans. The ability of the court to monitor the legislative and executive branches when they go beyond their authority is one of the checks and balances in the separation of powers. The doctrine differs between jurisdictions; hence, the process and extent of judicial review may vary internationally.

Q2. What are the major principles of judicial review?

Ans. The following are the two major guiding principles of judicial review: The Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the land and supersedes all other laws. With regard to all instances involving constitutional amendment, the parliament has no power to amend the basic provisions (the basic structure of the constitution) that time to time decided by the Supreme Court of India.

Q3. Is a judicial review an appeal?

Ans. A judicial review is an examination of an administrative tribunal or other administrative decision maker's decision. A Supreme Court Justice decides whether the tribunal or decision-maker had the power to make the decision it did. It is not an appeal.