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

4 - Suo Motu Intervention and the Indian Judiciary

from Part I - The Supreme Court of India – An Institutional Overview


This chapter examines the practice of the constitutional courts in India taking up matters suo motu (on their own initiative) without being petitioned by a claimant or party, to address a situation the judges regard as requiring extraordinary intervention on the part of the court. We assemble the available data about the incidence of this practice of suo motu intervention, its frequency, form, and results. We seek to explain why and how the Indian higher courts engage in this practice, and speculate about the effects of this practice on the courts and on Indian social and political life. For illustrative purposes, we describe the case of a recent intervention initiated by the Supreme Court, in response to a newschapter report of a gang-rape in a village a thousand miles away.