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APPELLANT: Riju Prasad Sarma

RESPONDENT: State of Assam and Ors.CITATION: (2015) 42 SCD 764

BENCH: Justice Fakkir Mohamed Kalifulla, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh

FACTUAL BACKGROUND:The plea of the petitioner was that certain fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution are guaranteed only against State action, and not against private customs or practices. It was contended that the Judiciary is as much a part of State as the Executive and the Legislature and therefore, it cannot permit the continuation of discrimination in violation of Article 14. The writ petition was filed challenging the election of Dolois (head priest of the temple). The only ground stated on behalf of the petitioners was a rebuttal of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution, while the respondents argued that for Part III of the Constitution, Article 12 denotes the term “the State” to include the Government, Parliament of India, Government and legislature of the Statesalso, but it has left out the Judiciary. So, the Judiciary cannot be included and treated as ‘the State’ when it performs judicial functions in contraposition to administrative powers.

ISSUE:Whether judicial decisions by the Judiciary can be included in the State’s action in case of issuance of writs?

HELD:The Court held that if the Judiciary in India function on its judicial side cannot be considered as a State under Article 12 of the Constitution. However, when the Courts deal with their employees or perform in other matters exclusively in an administrative role, they may fall within the definition of the State, for alluring writ jurisdiction. The Court also decreed that writs against the Judiciary would stand against their administrative actions only.It was also observed that the judgments of the High Court and the Supreme Court cannot be subjected to writ jurisdiction and for want of requisite governmental control, Judiciary cannot be considered as State under Article 12. A contextual interpretation must be preferred as it shall promote justice, especially through equitable adjudication in the protection of Fundamental Rights covered by Part III of the Constitution.

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