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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019



There is a widely held belief among Indian academics, political and civil society activists, and public-spirited citizens that the Indian Supreme Court is both capable and uniquely structured to help the relatively disadvantaged. The broad scope of rights granted by the Indian Constitution and the relative institutional independence of the Indian Supreme Court bolster this optimistic view of the Court.1 This view also draws support from the perceived inability of the Indian political system to respond to chronic denials of human rights. Political infighting, corruption, inert bureaucracies, and an ossified yet resilient cultural system render the political system structurally incapable of decisive and progressive social change. In contrast, the Indian Supreme Court is free from these constraints.