Calling dissent a “safety valve” of democracy, Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud on Saturday said “blanket labelling” of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the “heart” of the country’s commitment to protect Constitutional values and promote deliberative democracy.
Delivering the 15th PD Desai Memorial Lecture at the Gujarat high court auditorium in Ahmedabad, Justice Chandrachud also said that use of state machinery to curb dissent instills fear, which violates the rule of law.
“The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy,” he said. “Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while a democratically elected government offers us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society,” Justice Chandrachud said.
“Employment of state machinery to curb dissent instills fear and creates a chilling atmosphere on free speech which violates the rule of law and distracts from the constitutional vision of pluralist society,” he added.
Justice Chandrachud’s comments came at a time when the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) has triggered massive protests in many parts of the country. Protesters against the two issues have been targeted by the BJP as ‘traitors’ and ‘anti-nationals’.