Relevance: GS paper 2, Indian Polity
- Numerical majorities are important in cases involving substantial interpretation of constitutional provisions.
- Constitutional Benches are set up with five or more judges to ensure numerical majorities.
- No judgment can be delivered except with the concurrence of a majority of the judges, but judges are free to deliver dissenting judgments.
Debate on Judicial Majoritarianism
- Jeremy Waldron questions why judges have to resort to head counting to resolve disagreements.
- Differences in judicial decisions can be attributed to a difference in methodology or “judicial hunches”.
- Meritorious minority decisions receive little weightage in terms of outcomes.
- The rate of dissent is subject to influences and can call into question the efficiency of head-counting procedures.
Gap in Understanding
- Ronald Dworkin proffers alternatives, but the rationales underlying head-counting in judicial decision-making need to be questioned.
- The absence of a critical discourse on judicial majoritarianism represents a gap in our knowledge regarding the Supreme Court.
- A.D.M. Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla (1976) – dissenting opinion of Justice H.R. Khanna upholding right to life and personal liberty.
- Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. (1962) – dissenting opinion of Justice Subba Rao upholding the right to privacy.
- K.S. Puttaswamy v. UOI (2017) – judicial stamp of approval for the dissenting opinion in Kharak Singh.