‘Every Indian Has To Use His Liberties To Constantly Question The Actions Of Those In Power’ By Justice Ravindra Bhat.

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This article is written by Eugenia Enyonam Datsomor.

Introduction

Liberty is the state of being free in society from oppressive4 restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. Liberty is being independent and having freedom. It is also the right to a privilege.

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is a fundamental right that declares that no person shall be deprived of his or her life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. This is to say that even the constitution allows liberty to citizens.

According to Justice RavindraBhat, we gained our freedom at a great cost. Every Indian, therefore, has to use his liberties to constantly question the actions of those in power because democracy gives no tickets to free meals. It is for us to assert and guard liberty and not be complacent about any encroachment. ‘Connecting Governed, Governing and Governance (G3)’ was the theme during the first anniversary celebrations of the forum and the topic being spoken about was ‘Role of Judiciary in Governance’

Key things mentioned

  1. Justice Ravindra added that ‘Today, when the world is reeling under the impact of the Covid Pandemic, with painful and traumatic consequences disrupting lives and livelihoods, leaving behind despair, destruction and impoverishment, it is more important for people to cherish liberties and constantly question, through every legitimate channel, the moves and policies which undermine the democratic government and displace the liberties that the constitution guarantees.
  2. He further noted that democracy cannot be a hundred percent guidance to the country since it has its own imperfections but rather the involvement of the people by questioning what goes on will also go a long way to help the country. He conveyed this through the statement he made that, ‘Those nations who reposed their trust in a democratic way of governance must be prepared for imperfections. But its people have to exercise their freedom to question those governing them unremittingly and unfailingly, and through this dialogue, realize their aspirations. It may be a fundamental right, right to get your ration card or to change your date of birth, if you don’t get justice internally you have to go to the court- there is no other way. The rule of law through democracy is a continuing work in progress where people’s scrutiny is paramount andcourts are part of the dialogue. There is a thin line that divides the rule of law from the rule by law-one is democracy and the rulers are the people, and the second one is ruled by a monarchy, a dictator, or tyrant. The courts are the last stop to ensure continuity of the rule of law when all else fails!’.
  3. Justice also said that the ability of citizens to talk and question what goes on does not only protect other people but themselves as well.
  4. He also mentioned that the courts are supposed to play a very significant role in government which is why the constitutional framers gave the court the advisory role in matters on the validity of the laws and policies which the Parliament or executive wish to bring forward. He added that courts face the charge of activism when they deal with controversial issues and he opined that in this context one must remember that the courts are placed in a system of checks and balances and that characterizing courts or judges as ‘activist’, ‘strict constructionist’ or ‘conservationist is limiting.
  5. Justice also commended the Supreme Court for their ability to speak multiple times with regard to several issues. He said that ‘These are very important on governance because unless you know what you can speak and what you cannot speak, it is very easy for the state to criminalize any content.
  6. Another aspect he touched on was the issue of reservation –

That is the judgment made by the nine judges in Indira Sawhney in 1992 which mentioned the use of it, ‘as an elaborate discourse on the need to balance the right to equality with the aspirations of those who are in the most marginalized sections of the society and for whom the rule of reservation was brought in’. This is to say that till date not every society or group of people is equal in terms of literacy, finances, and many others. Due to this, the rule of reservation seeks to be of aid to such people who deserve it in society. Per Justice, he stated that ‘Reservation, at leastwithregard to scheduled tribes and most backward classes, is essential and we cannot put a time-limit on it. Speaking personally, I would say it is not possible that we should do away with it as long as society is unequal and people are socially and emotionally backward! So long as the society is unwilling to castoff the shackles of caste, these quotas are needed because they underline empowerment!’.

  1. He also praised the Election Commission for being an arbiter of free and fair elections as they played a vital role in maintaining peace and fairness during elections. As compared to the rigging elections years back.
  2. He also highlighted some precedents that were well-handled by the court as he said that precedents form a very important part of judging current issues. Thus, the judicial interventions when there were gaps of policies with no laws. He gave an example as the Vishaka case was through these guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace were laid down. He also gave other examples such as LaxmikantPandey’s case, and many others.
  3. Justice concludes by mentioning that the court performs a gatekeeping function and has the responsibility to value and uphold the constitution and other laws of India. He as well mentioned that he is proud to be hailing from Kasaragod and Kerala.

Writer’s Opinion

The judiciary is a very important aspect of every country as the judiciary performs a very key role of upholding as well as interpreting the law. Democracy as we practice will not be complete without the judiciary. However, it will also not be complete if the people do not question certain things done in the country. It is therefore the responsibility of each citizen to add up to the progress of the country by doing what they can to ensure peace and that the right thing is done. A democratic and developed country cannot be attained through just an individual but rather can be achieved when everyone puts in an effort to make it work. 

This article is edited by DhruvKapoor, FIMT, affiliated to GGSIPU.

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