Supreme Court judge DY Chandrachud on Tuesday said regular scrutiny of authorities might be the long-term solution to prevent incidents such as the one in which a rape complainant in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district was set on fire, and the controversial killings of the four accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad , Bar and Bench reported.
“It [public deliberations] is a reminder that we will not wait to be shocked by a terrifying tale of human rights abuse, but rather scrutinise the actions of those in power every day to ensure that such abuses never occur in the first place,” he said at a lecture organised by the International Institute of Human Rights Society in New Delhi. “And that’s my answer to the long-term answer to those two visual images that I referred to.”
Chandrachud said the country’s excellent democratic record showed that peaceful transfer of power was the “overriding norm”. However, Indians should question themselves whether democratic rule had “reduced the political, social and economic exclusion faced by many of our citizens”, he added.
The Supreme Court judge highlighted the significance of “participative process” and identification of the complementary role that the political and legal spheres play in a bid to secure human rights. Chandrachud said citizens need to engage in discussions instead of following a “culture of polarisation”, Hindustan Times reported.
“Governance begins when the model code of conduct ends,” the judge said. “Our discourse on governance cannot be as divisive as the trenchant voices of electoral combat. Deliberative arenas, which foster critical public reflection, must be created so that criticism and critique are voiced in an open yet dignified debate.”
Former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, who spoke at the same event, also raised concerns about faith in due process, The Indian Express reported. He said that when a minister in Telangana said the police did what they were asked to do, “it raises a big question; are we junking due process and justice system?” Lodha was referring to senior state minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav’s remarks last week.
In an interview to Hindustan Times on Tuesday, Lodha said the only remedy was to improve the criminal justice system. “Two key directives were to separate investigation from law and order and to ensure that the government does not make unwarranted interference in police functions,” he said. “Both of these directives and many others which have been given by the SC remain unimplemented for more than 13 years.” The former chief justice asserted that the judiciary was not divided on such a matter as its work was to maintain rule of law.