An aphorism common among lawyers claimsthat India does not have one Supreme Courts but many: it reflects the fact that the outcome of a case could change drastically based on a judge’s philosophy.
So when Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar, the second-most most Supreme Court judge on Wednesday was to author a verdict on petitions challenging the unchecked investigative powers of the Enforcement Directorate, commentators did not find it surprising when the bench he led ruled entirely in favour of the investigation agency.
This judgment was Khanwilkar’s swansong, delivered just two days before his retirement. However, it stuck to a definite pattern he demonstrated over the past six years he spent in the Supreme Court. From dismissing privacy concerns about Aadhaar to making bail difficult, given a choice between state power and citizens’ freedoms, Khanwilkar has consistently sided with the state.
His rulings contributed to growing criticism that the Supreme Court is allegedly failing to do its job of acting as a check on the Union government.
Increasing state power
Khanwilkar was heading a three-judge bench on Wednesday when he delivered a judgment upholding the constitutionality of several contentious sections of the Prevention of the Money Laundering Act and the broad investigation powers of the Enforcement Directorate.
The law had been challenged by more than 200 petitioners for…