Former Chief Justice Kabir’s legacy and some recent instances of judicial activism

Former Chief Justice Altamas Kabir has delivered a few judgments towards the end of his tenure, which are noteworthy.   Among these is Subhas Popatlal Dave v. UOI  in which, contrary to the decade-long tradition of the CJI not dissenting, he was in a minority.

Other Judgments (except Lily Thomas) delivered by him or as part of the Bench are:

State of Maharashtra v. Indian Hotels and Restaurants Assn

This defends the right of the bar dancers to pursue their profession.

Salil Bali v. UOI     

On why juvenile age cannot be reduced.

Faculty association of AIIMS v. Union of India

Constitution Bench dismisses plea for introducing reservation in
super-speciality. It says in Paragraph 19 that the very concept of reservation
implies mediocrity!

Christian medical college v. UOI

2:1 judgment against NEET, in which Justice Kabir was in the majority, has invited a huge controversy. It appears that the judgment was leaked, before it was delivered, with a contributor to the Bar and Bench predicting the ratio of the judgment a few hours before its delivery. Also, the dissenting Judge has apparently recorded his displeasure that time was insufficient to facilitate proper discussion among the Judges.  All these have led to the demand that the Court should review this judgment, and if it fails, the Government should restore NEET.  Today’s Hindu carries an edit, as well as an article on the issue on the oped page.

Lily Thomas v. UOI (Justice Kabir was not part of the Bench which delivered it)

This article in Indian Express compares Lily Thomas with the CB judgment in K.Prabhakaran while Rajeev Dhavan compares Lily Thomas with Saka Venkata Rao, delivered in 1953.  Justice Katju’s critique of Lily Thomas can be found here.

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1 comment
  • In the 'Faculty association of AIIMS v. Union of India' case, you have mentioned, 'It says in Paragraph 19 that the very concept of reservation implies mediocrity!'

    I read paragraph 19 and it says and I quote, 'We cannot take a different view, even though it has been suggested that such an observation was not binding, being obiter in nature. We cannot ascribe to such a view since the very concept of reservation implies mediocrity and we will have to take note of the caution indicated in Indra Sawhney's case.'

    Can you please explain what do they mean by 'we cannot ascribe to such a view.' What view are they referring to?