Justice Dr D.Y. Chandrachud has said laws to combat terrorism should not be misused to put down dissent or harass citizens into silence and courts must act as the first line of defence against the deprivation of liberty.
Addressing the India-US Joint Summer Conference on Indo-US legal ties, he said no law can be employed to harass citizens and take away their freedom. Referring to his judgment in the Arnab Goswami vs. the State, he observed deprivation of liberty for even a single day is one too many. “We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic issues of our decisions.”
The topic of the Summer Conference was “New challenges and shared interests between US and India” and Justice Chandrachud spoke on the “Role of the Supreme Court in protecting fundamental rights in challenging times”. The event was organized by the American Bar Association’s (ABA) International Law Section in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators India (CIArb) and the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF).
At the outset, Justice Chandrachud said while the US and India have formed a strategic bilateral partnership in areas of defence cooperation, trade and economic ties, energy and climate change, science and technology and the like, he would like to discuss a deeper relationship. “A “constitutional relationship”, if I may say so, of respect for democracy, rule of law and a rule based international order, and espousal of the values of freedom, liberty, justice and equality for all.”
Justice Chandrachud also spoke of the influence of the American Constitution. “The American influence on the Indian Constitution cannot be understated, as it contributed to the heart and soul of the Indian Constitution – the fundamental rights under Articles 14 to 32,” the Justice said.
He spoke of the menace of congestion in Indian prisons amidst the coronavirus pandemic, referring to the court-ordered setting up of high-level committees to release convicts on bail or parole. He said the pandemic had posed a stiff challenge to the liberty of the people in the midst of pandemic-induced lockdowns that had impacted the marginalised due to their socio-economic status. They didn’t have work denying them wages which impacted their well-being and their ability to combat the disease through hospitalisation and tests, etc.
Read Justice Chandrachud’s full speech PDF belowNew-Challenges-And-Shared-Interests-Between-US-and-India