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This article is written by Yoshita Manral of 2nd Semester of Asian law college, Noida.


“In politics, power is sought; in the judiciary, power is entrusted.” This quote by Honourable Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer encapsulates the inherent differences between the realms of politics and the judiciary. However, a growing sentiment suggests that these lines may be blurring, with justices of the Supreme Court sometimes operating as politicians in disguise.

The Supreme Court holds a unique position in any country’s governance structure, tasked with interpreting the law, safeguarding constitutional rights, and ensuring justice. Justices are expected to embody impartiality, independence, and a commitment to the rule of law. However, there has been an ongoing debate about whether justices of the Supreme Court can truly separate themselves from political biases and influences, leading to the perception that they may be politicians in disguise. This article delves into this contentious topic, examining the role of the judiciary, the appointment process, and the potential influences that shape judicial decision-making. By exploring various perspectives this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex relationship between justices and politics.

Keywords- Judiciary, politicians, Rights, Justice, Interpretation, Impartiality, Collegium system, Accountability, Transparency, Legal principles, Public perception, Judicial Integrity


In the words of Honourable Justice H.R. Khanna, “Judges should interpret the Constitution according to its true spirit and philosophy.” The notion of justices of the Supreme Court as politicians in disguise presents a challenging paradigm that calls into question the foundations of our legal system. The Supreme Court, as the highest judicial body in a nation, plays a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice. It is expected that justices exercise impartiality, independence, and fidelity to the Constitution. However, critics argue that the justices may be influenced by political considerations, leading to the perception that they are politicians in disguise. This article critically examines this viewpoint, exploring the factors that contribute to the alleged politicization of the judiciary and the potential implications it may have on the credibility of the judicial system.

The Role of the Judiciary

The role of the judiciary is of paramount importance in any democratic society, and the Indian judiciary holds a significant position in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights and liberties of its citizens. The judiciary acts as the guardian of the Constitution, ensuring that the principles enshrined within it are upheld and that laws and government actions are in conformity with the Constitution. Former Chief Justice of India, Justice R.M. Lodha, aptly described the role of the judiciary by stating, “The judiciary is the final interpreter of the Constitution and the sentinel on the qui vive to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens.”

One of the primary functions of the judiciary is the interpretation and application of laws. The judiciary plays a crucial role in interpreting legislation and resolving legal disputes. It provides clarity and guidance on the meaning and scope of laws, ensuring uniformity and consistency in their application. Through its judgments and decisions, the judiciary establishes legal precedents that serve as a framework for future cases. The judiciary’s role in interpreting laws is crucial in providing certainty and predictability in the legal system. Another essential role of the judiciary is the protection of individual rights and liberties. The judiciary acts as a safeguard, ensuring that the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution are upheld and protected. It ensures that citizens have access to justice and have a platform to seek redress when their rights are violated. The judiciary acts as a check and balance on the powers of the state and protects individuals from any arbitrary or unlawful actions by the government. In the words of former Chief Justice of India, Justice Altamas Kabir, “The judiciary represents the last bastion of hope for the common man.”

The Indian judiciary is known for its commitment to ensuring access to justice for all. It recognizes that justice should not be a privilege for the few but a right that is available to every citizen, regardless of their social or economic background. The judiciary has taken significant steps to enhance access to justice through various means, such as the introduction of legal aid programs and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. These initiatives aim to bridge the gap between the marginalized sections of society and the justice system. The Indian judiciary strives to make justice more accessible, affordable, and efficient.

The appointment process

The appointment process of the judiciary in India has been a subject of intense scrutiny and debate. The manner in which judges are appointed to the Supreme Court can have a significant impact on the perception of the judiciary’s independence and impartiality. The process of judicial appointments in India has witnessed several reforms and controversies, raising questions about the potential influence of political factors in the selection of justices.

The appointment of judges to the Supreme Court is governed by the “collegium system[1].” This system, evolved through judicial pronouncements, involves a collegium consisting of the Chief Justice of India and a group of senior judges who make recommendations for judicial appointments. The process is intricate, involving consultations and deliberations among the members of the collegium. Critics argue that the appointment process under the collegium system lacks transparency and is susceptible to political considerations. They claim that political factors, such as personal affiliations and ideological leanings, may influence the selection of judges. The absence of a structured and objective process for appointments can raise doubts about the impartiality of the judiciary and fuel the perception of justices as politicians in disguise.

One notable incident that sparked controversy regarding the appointment process was the case of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). (justice, 2015) The NJAC was introduced as a constitutional amendment aimed at changing the process of judicial appointments, giving the executive and political representatives a role in the appointment of judges. However, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment in 2015, declared the NJAC unconstitutional, upholding the primacy of the collegium system. This incident highlighted the delicate balance between the judiciary and the executive and raised questions about the potential for political interference in the appointment process. The lack of clear guidelines and criteria for judicial appointments has also been a matter of concern. It has led to allegations of favouritism and nepotism, further reinforcing the perception that political factors may influence the selection of justices. The absence of a comprehensive and objective evaluation process, including consideration of merit, expertise, and diversity, can undermine the public’s confidence in the independence of the judiciary.

Political Factors in Judicial Decision-Making

The intersection between law and politics is a complex and dynamic field, especially when it comes to the role of the judiciary. While judges are expected to be impartial and apply the law objectively, political factors can often influence their decision-making process. This article explores the impact of political factors on judicial decision-making, highlighting relevant incidents that demonstrate the interplay between politics and the judiciary.

One area where political factors come into play is the appointment process of judges. In many countries, including the United States, judges are appointed by politicians or executive authorities who often consider their own political affiliations and ideologies when selecting candidates. This can lead to the appointment of judges who are more likely to decide cases in a manner that aligns with the appointing authority’s political agenda. For example, in the United States, Supreme Court appointments have become highly contentious, with political parties seeking to appoint judges who share their ideological perspectives. The approach taken by judges In interpreting the law can also be influenced by political factors. The debate between judicial activism and judicial restraint reflects different political ideologies. Judicial activism[2]refers to judges who are willing to go beyond the strict interpretation of the law and actively shape public policy. On the other hand, judicial restraint advocates believe that judges should exercise restraint and defer to the legislative branch. The ideological leanings of judges can impact their decision-making process, leading to differing interpretations of the law.

Incidents such as the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954)[3]in the United States highlight the influence of political factors in judicial decision-making. The Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate schools was a departure from the prevailing political climate at the time but reflected a growing recognition of civil rights. The case demonstrated the role of the judiciary in addressing social and political issues that were deeply ingrained in the fabric of society.

Similarly, in the Indian context, the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize homosexuality in the Navtej Singh Johar case (2018) (Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, 2018) showcased the impact of political factors on judicial decision-making. The Court’s decision reflected changing societal attitudes and a progressive stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Despite resistance from conservative factions, the judiciary played a crucial role in interpreting the law in a manner that aligned with evolving political and social sentiments.

Strategic behaviour and consensus building among judges can also be influenced by political factors. In cases where multiple judges are involved, they engage in deliberations and negotiations to reach a consensus. The desire to secure majority opinions that align with their own ideological perspectives can shape the outcome of the case. The process of consensus building may involve compromises and considerations influenced by political factors, highlighting the political nature of judicial decision-making.

The public perception

Public perception plays a crucial role in shaping the discourse surrounding the judiciary, particularly in the context of the article “Justices of the Supreme Court – Politicians in Disguise.” Public perception refers to the collective views, opinions, and attitudes held by the general public towards the judiciary, specifically in relation to the perception of justices as being influenced by political factors rather than solely adhering to legal principles. In India, there have been instances where public perception has reflected scepticism towards the judiciary’s independence and impartiality.

One such example is the controversy surrounding the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court in 2018. The public perception of political influence was evident when four senior judges of the Supreme Court held a press conference, expressing their concerns about the Chief Justice’s role in assigning cases and suggesting that political considerations were being prioritized over established conventions. This incident led to public debates about the politicization of the judiciary and raised questions about the perception of the judiciary’s independence. Another instance that affected public perception was the handling of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case in 2015. The NJAC was proposed as a constitutional amendment to alter the process of judicial appointments, introducing a role for the executive and politicians in the appointment of judges. The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the judiciary’s independence from political interference. However, the case and its subsequent judgment sparked debates about the judiciary’s ability to resist political pressure and maintain impartiality.

The public perception of the judiciary as Influenced by political factors can also be observed in cases involving high-profile political figures. For example, the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, which revolved around the ownership of a religious site in Ayodhya, garnered significant public attention. The Supreme Court’s judgment in this case, delivered in 2019, was seen as a judiciary. Media coverage of cases, judicial appointments, and controversies surrounding the judiciary can influence how the public perceives the judiciary’s actions and motivations. Biased or sensationalized reporting can contribute to the perception that judges are swayed by political factors, reinforcing the idea of justices as politicians in disguise tempt to balance religious sentiments and legal principles. However, the prolonged legal battle and the politicization of the issue led to perceptions that the judiciary’s decision could be influenced by political considerations.

Addressing public perception requires the judiciary to actively engage with the public and communicate its commitment to independence and impartiality. This can be achieved through increased transparency, accountability, and effective communication. The judiciary can proactively explain its decisions, provide clarity on legal principles, and dispel misconceptions about political influence. For instance, organizing public outreach programs, engaging with civil society organizations, and promoting legal literacy can help bridge the gap between the judiciary and the public, fostering a better understanding of its role in upholding the rule of law.


The question of whether justices of the Supreme Court are politicians in disguise raises important concerns about the judiciary’s independence, integrity, and legitimacy. While political factors may influence judicial decision-making, it is crucial to recognize the judiciary’s critical role in upholding the rule of law and preserving democratic principles. The appointment process, ideological leanings, and public perception all contribute to the complex relationship between justices and politics. Striking a balance between judicial independence and accountability, enhancing transparency, and addressing public concerns are essential steps in maintaining the credibility and integrity of the judiciary in the face of such criticisms. Ultimately, it is imperative to ensure that the Supreme Court remains a bastion of justice and the rule of law, free from undue political influences.


1-https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/everyday-explainers/what-is-the-sc-collegium-how-it-works-8191113/lite/ visited on 04-07-2023

 2-https://byjusexamprep.com/upsc-exam/judicial-activism visited on 04-07-2023

3- https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/347/483/ visited on 05-07-2023

4-“The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014″ https://prsindia.org/billtrack/the-national-judicial-appointments-commission-bill-2014 visited on 05-07-2023

5-“Investigating Judicial Decision Making | Cornell Research” https://research.cornell.edu/news-features/investigating-judicial-decision-making visited on 05-07-2023

6-“Navtej Singh Johar vs Union Of India Ministry Of Law And … on 6 September, 2018” https://indiankanoon.org/doc/168671544/ visited on 05-07-2023

[1] https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/everyday-explainers/what-is-the-sc-collegium-how-it-works-8191113/l ite/ visited on 04-07-2023

[2] https://byjusexamprep.com/upsc-exam/judicial-activism visited on 04-07-2023

[3] “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: 347 U.S. 483 (1954): Justia US Supreme Court Center” https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/347/483/ visited on 05-07-2023


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