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Need for more political engagement in a democracy: Justice DY Chandrachud

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Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, talking about the need for political engagement in a democracy, said that the issues requiring the involvement of elected representatives should not be decided by the Apex Court. The judge said, “Supreme Court cannot and must not transcend its role by deciding for elected representatives.”

Justice Chandrachud was speaking at the King’s College in London on the topic “Protecting human rights and preserving civil liberties: The role of courts in a democracy.”

While talking on the subject, Justice Chandrachud said, “Thinking of Supreme Court as a one-stop solution to resolve complicated issues of policy and society shows the waning power of discourse and consensus building.”

The judge said, “It is true that the Supreme Court of India must protect the fundamental rights of persons and perform its constitutional duty.” He further said that we must resolve issues through public deliberation, discourse and the engagement of citizens with their representatives and the Constitution.

Justice Chandrachud said the trend of increasingly rushing to the courts shows how people have started losing patience with political discourse. He said, “This results in a slippery slope where courts are regarded as the only organ of the State for realization of rights — obviating the need for continuous engagement with the legislature and the executive.”

Justice Chandrachud spoke of the various judgments where the Apex Court played an important role in protecting the fundamental rights of citizens and the realization of constitutional goals.

Another topic that was touched by the justice was “gender” which has been an important subject of engagement for the top court. He discussed many historic decisions that have been taken in the Supreme Court on gender rights.

He added that the role of the Supreme Court has moved beyond discrimination and now focuses on the binary division of gender into men and women, gendered notions of certain professions, and discrimination on the basis of gender- in the workplace, within the confines of one’s home, or in society, among others.

Ending his lecture, he stated the fulfilment of the ideals of the Constitution and the protections guaranteed under it cannot only be achieved by exercising our role as citizens once every five years. There must be a continuous engagement with all the pillars of democracy, Justice Chandrachud said.

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