Debates on Standards of Review in the Indian Supreme Court

The Indian Supreme Court has developed and applied certain standards of review to constitutional rights. These standards have had a significant impact in assessing the validity of limitations on the right to equality, and the right to life and personal liberty. The Court has crafted tests for these rights by referring to concepts of “rationality,” “balancing” and elements of the proportionality test.

This paper will examine relevant Supreme Court case law to determine the judicial reasoning behind the evolution of these tests and concepts underlying them. It will (1) examine whether these tests represent an over zealous protection of rights or a deferential acceptance of legislative decisions (2) determine if the court’s jurisprudence represents the adoption of a formalistic/doctrinal jurisprudence or a move towards an antiformal legal philosophy; and (3) analyze the consequences of application of such tests on the definition of these rights.