Supreme Court judge DY Chandrachud on Saturday said that it was the duty of intellectuals to expose the government’s lies, Live Law reported.

The judge, while delivering a virtual lecture, pointed to the spreading of fake news, especially during the coronavirus crisis.

“One cannot rely only on the state for truth,” he said, according to NDTV. “Totalitarian governments are known for their constant reliance on falsehoods to consolidate power. We see there is an increasing trend among countries around the world to manipulate Covid-19 data.”

Independent analyses by journalists have pointed to the possible massive undercounting of Covid-19 deaths in India during the devastating second wave in April and May this year.

Justice Chandrachud spoke about the need to have an independent media, “which will provide us information in an unbiased manner”, he said, according to Bar and Bench.

The judge called on Indians to criticise and question the government. “One can consider speaking truth to power as a right of every citizen which they must have in a democracy but equally a duty of every citizen”, he was quoted as saying by Live Law.

Justice Chandrachud added that educational institutions should be empowered to create an atmosphere where students can learn how to differentiate between truth and falsehood, and “develop a temperament to question power”.

The judge noted that religious and social divisions in the world were increasing. “We live in a post-truth world,” he said. “Social media platforms are responsible but citizens are also responsible. We incline towards echo chambers and don’t like opposing beliefs.”

He added: “We only read newspapers that align with our beliefs. We ignore books written by people who do not belong to our stream. We mute the TV when someone has a different opinion. We do not truly care about the truth as much as we do about being right’.”