Trust us to be guardians of citizens’ liberties: CJI Chandrachud | India News

MUMBAI: Trust us to be guardians of citizens’ rights and liberties and know that no case is small enough, said CJI DY Chandrachud on Saturday, citing a case the Supreme Court decided on Friday in which a magistrate had forgotten to write “concurrently” while sentencing a man for power theft to two years’ imprisonment in nine cases; the convict would have faced 18 years in jail if the SC had not stepped in. He was delivering his first speech in Mumbai as CJI at the Ashok Desai Memorial Lecture on ‘Law and Morality: Bounds and reaches’.
“Our Constitution is an educational document which tries to create a new moral order in society. However, principles of non-discrimination and substantive equality will only be effective if social stratification is ironed out to create an equal society,” he said.
Laws are passed by the majority, therefore the discourse on public morality often finds its way into the law, and moral concerns creep into the law, he noted. There is a concept of “adequate morality” and very often it “coincides with the concept of morality of the powerful, dominant group, trumping the weaker section of society. It is the morality of the men, upper castes and able bodied… vulnerable groups are placed at the bottom of the social structure… Members of the marginalised community have little choice but to submit to the dominant culture for their own survival,” he said.
Stating how late Ashok Desai, the ex-attorney general, would fight to uphold rights of citizens, he referred to the latest case before the SC and said, “Look at the poverty of the man, someone who steals electrical wires and poles lies at the margins of society, but he would have to suffer 18 years of imprisonment, only because the trial judge didn’t direct that the sentences would run concurrently and the HC didn’t do anything at all.
We had to intervene (on Friday) in the seemingly innocuous case of a simple citizen of the nation. The point is, sermonising apart, trust us to be guardians of liberties of our citizens and there is no case which is small enough or big enough for every court in the nation a be it the district judiciary, or the HC or SC. Because it’s in us that the confidence of citizens in due process of law and protection of liberties rest. It is through the lives of members of the bar who fearlessly espouse those causes that the flame of liberty burns bright even today.”

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