The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Pratikshit Gupta, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
The police and the bureaucracy are accountable to the executive, the executive is accountable to the legislature, and the legislature is accountable to the people, but who is the judiciary accountable to? This is what makes it a “benevolent dictator” of sorts when it takes on roles that go beyond interpreting the law.
A “benevolent” dictator is one who appoints himself to power (it could be through a coup or any other means not prescribed in the law). He rules basically by making out a case that elected politicians are untrustworthy and corrupt, that the whole system is dysfunctional, that an impartial (but unelected) ombudsman can do the right things instead of being guided by vested interests, as he can appoint competent people to jobs without fear or favour, etc, etc.
All populist dictatorships derive their legitimacy from being seen as doing the right things. Pakistan’s army has repeatedly staged military coups using the unpopularity of elected politicians as an excuse. It has often been welcomed by the public for it.
Now consider the case of the Indian Supreme Court. It is unelected and largely unaccountable to anyone. It appoints its own judges and they can’t be removed easily. In recent years, the Supreme Court has been repeatedly foraying into executive and legislative terrain, directing action, making laws, supervising investigations, or generally directing governance.