Welcome to the official blog of the Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates, where we are dedicated to providing litigation support services for matters related to the Constitution. In today’s blog post, we aim to shed light on the prevailing issues surrounding the Constitution, the legal framework in place for their protection, and the steps we can take as a society to combat these acts. Join us as we explore this critical subject and empower you with the knowledge to protect your rights and safety.

Article 142 of the Indian Constitution grants the Supreme Court the unique power to deliver complete justice and ensure effective enforcement of its orders. Positioned under Part VI, titled “The Union Judiciary,” Article 142 confers significant authority upon the apex court to act in extraordinary situations and achieve the ultimate goal of justice. It will explore the nuances of Article 142, its scope, limitations, and the impact it has had on shaping India’s judicial landscape.

Understanding Article 142:

Article 142 empowers the Supreme Court to pass any order or decree that is necessary to do complete justice in any case before it. Unlike other articles that confer specific powers to the courts, Article 142 is exceptional in its unrestricted scope, allowing the court to act in unique situations and devise innovative remedies for complex legal issues.

Salient Features and Powers:

  1. Extraordinary Jurisdiction: Article 142 gives the Supreme Court extraordinary jurisdiction that extends beyond its ordinary powers under various statutes. It enables the court to take exceptional measures when the prevailing laws fall short of delivering justice in a particular case.
  2. Applicability Across All Cases: Article 142 empowers the Supreme Court to use its inherent powers in civil, criminal, or any other type of litigation before it. This inclusive approach allows the court to address any injustices across different realms of law.
  3. Equitable Remedies: The Supreme Court, under Article 142, can pass orders that provide equitable remedies, ensuring that justice is delivered without being bound by the strict confines of statutory provisions.
  4. Harmonization of Conflicting Laws: Article 142 enables the court to harmonize conflicting judgments and laws to ensure uniformity and consistency in the application of the law.

Scope Of Article 142 of the Indian Constitution

The scope of Article 142 of the Indian Constitution is to empower the Supreme Court to pass necessary orders for complete justice in pending cases. It is designed to address complex situations not adequately covered by existing laws. The Supreme Court has wide-ranging powers under Article 142 and can issue various orders. For example, in the case of liquor sales near highways, the court used Article 142 to prohibit alcohol sales within 500 meters of highways. In the Ritesh Sinha case, the court invoked Article 142 to collect mandatory voice samples since existing laws lacked provisions for it. The court has clarified that Article 142 cannot be misused to infringe upon fundamental rights and is meant to uphold and protect those rights.

Judicial Activism: Expanding Judicial Role for Public Interest

Judicial activism is a judicial philosophy that advocates going beyond traditional boundaries to consider the broader implications of laws in the interest of the larger public. It is often seen as the opposite of judicial restraint, where the judiciary refrains from intervening in legislative and executive matters. Judicial activism occurs in three significant scenarios:

  1. Legislative Vacuum: When there is no law governing a specific offence that has occurred, judicial activism comes into play. For example, in the Bhanwari Devi vs. State of Rajasthan case, there was no law against sexual harassment in workplaces. The Supreme Court, using its powers, enacted the ‘Vishaka Guidelines’ to address the issue until the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 (POSH) came into effect.
  2. Executive Non-Compliance: Judicial activism also arises when the executive fails to uphold constitutional rights. In the Hossainara Khatoon case (1979), the Bihar government neglected to address violations of Article 21, which guarantees the right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court’s intervention, in this case, led to the recognition of the right to a speedy trial under Article 21.
  3. Acting on Behalf of Both Legislature and Executive: In certain instances, the Supreme Court takes initiatives on issues that neither the legislature nor the executive have addressed adequately. An example of this is the regulation of firecrackers to protect the environment. Despite existing laws against various forms of pollution, there was no specific law to govern the environmental impact of firecrackers. In response, the Supreme Court provided guidelines to regulate the usage of firecrackers, especially in Delhi, to reduce environmental harm.

Judicial Restraint: Limiting Judicial Power for Balanced Interpretation

Judicial restraint stands as a theory of judicial interpretation that opposes judicial activism, emphasizing the need for judges to limit their authority. Rather than intervening in policy-making and law enactment, courts should focus on interpreting existing laws. While the Supreme Court’s plenary power under Article 142 is considerable, its exercise should be consistent and cautious. This calls for the aspect of judicial restraint.

When exercising judicial restraint, judges should consider three vital components:

  1. Past Precedents: They must examine previous decisions made in similar cases to maintain consistency in their rulings.
  2. Framers’ Intent: Understanding the original intent of the Constitution’s framers helps in interpreting laws within the framework of their vision.
  3. Policy Formulation: Judges should refrain from making new policies based on their decisions and leave policy formulation to experts in the respective fields.

By practising judicial restraint, judges strike a balance between upholding the Constitution and respecting the roles of the other branches of government. This approach fosters stability, predictability, and adherence to the rule of law while ensuring the judiciary’s integrity.

Exercising Judicial Restraint with Article 142: A Critical Analysis

The application of judicial restraint with respect to Article 142 poses several challenges:

  1. Addressing Arbitrariness: The diverse interpretations of Article 142 have proven beneficial in cases where legislation falls short. However, this flexibility may lead to decisions based on irrelevant facts, potentially jeopardizing the principle of fairness and consistency.
  2. Ambiguous Notion of ‘Complete Justice’: The term ‘complete justice’ in Article 142 lacks a clear definition, making it subjective and case-specific. This ambiguity provides ample discretion to the Apex Court, raising concerns about the potential misuse of power.
  3. Lack of Regulatory Framework: Judicial actions under Article 142 are not subject to regulation, leading to grey areas in decision-making. Instances like the ban on e-rickshaws in Delhi without provisions for alternative jobs reflect potential abuse of power.

Limitations and Criticisms:

  1. No Legislative Power: While Article 142 empowers the Supreme Court to pass orders and decrees, it does not grant the court legislative powers. It must act within the confines of the existing legal framework and cannot create new laws.
  2. Concerns about Judicial Overreach: Critics argue that Article 142 gives the court unchecked power, leading to potential judicial overreach. There have been instances where this provision has been used to bypass or modify existing laws, raising concerns about the separation of powers.

Impact on Indian Judiciary:

Article 142 has played a significant role in shaping the Indian judicial landscape. It has allowed the Supreme Court to deliver innovative judgments, resolve complex legal issues, and bridge gaps in the existing legal framework. The court’s ability to grant relief tailored to the specific circumstances of a case has been lauded for ensuring complete justice.


Article 142 of the Indian Constitution stands as a unique provision that empowers the Supreme Court to deliver complete justice when faced with exceptional circumstances. It serves as a vital tool in the court’s arsenal, enabling it to address complex legal issues and harmonize conflicting laws. While its scope and powers have been appreciated for their effectiveness, concerns about potential judicial overreach warrant careful and judicious use of this extraordinary provision. As the Supreme Court continues to evolve, Article 142 will remain a vital instrument in its pursuit of justice for the citizens of India.

We are a law firm in the name and style of Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates at Gurugram and Rewari. We are providing litigation support services for matters related to the Indian Constitution Of India.

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