The freedom to criticise is sacred and a public protest is required against the punishment given to human rights activist Binayak Sen, said retired High Court judge M.F. Saldanha at a press meet called by People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) here on Tuesday.

It was a judgment that should never happen again as it destroyed all rights to protest, which was essential for moulding public opinion, he said. Referring to the case, Mr. Saldanha said: “Unfortunately, this judgment is a judicial atrocity. It is very dangerous…. It is wrong to think that people cannot comment on judicial procedure. One cannot make personal comments on a judge, that is all.”

Mr. Saldanha said people might think why they should bother about Dr. Sen in Chhatisgarh. “But people's rights are being taken away. The police are getting encouraged. Such incidents are happening frequently throughout the country,” he said. The judgment was dangerous as it created a precedent. “Tomorrow, another court will say this (judgment) was done in Chhatisgarh case,” he said. He said that in the past too, there had been a scenario during the Emergency when there was no “rule of law” and the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) was used to curb freedom of people.

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