‘Right to choose Government is a right to disagree with present Government’

Bombay High Court in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court spoke about dissent on the Constitution Day and said, “There is a need to do away with terms like “ruling party”, as we are “governed” and “ruled”.

In a virtual discussion titled “Undermining the Idea of India: The Way Forward”, Justice Patel said, “It is time we get rid of this colonial linguistic baggage. The right to choose a Government is a right to disagree with the present Government. It is a right to dissent. Because the Constitution compels us to choose every five years, it then becomes a duty and not just a right, so we must do away with terms like ‘ruling party’.”

The talk was hosted by The Leaflet, a legal news website, where Justice Patel spoke about dissent. He said, “The first self-preserving strategy is to criminalise dissent. Another attempt to muzzle dissent is coming from a different quarter — a civil servant has recently said the fourth front of war is coming from ‘Civil Society’. As critics have pointed out what is ‘Civil Society’? Is it in contrast to an uncivil society? Does it include journalists, lawyers, bureaucrats, judges? Are judges a threat to the Government? Ideas are dangerous and ideas are also bulletproof. So is the Constitution of India.”

He went on to say, “A bulwark comes from technology — specifically the Internet. It makes impossible the kind of territorial censorship we used to see. Therefore, it does not matter if someone in America speaks about the idea of two or three Indias. The idea will somehow get through. There is nothing as too much democracy and too much dissent. Governments will come and Governments will go but the Idea of India must live on forever.”

Retired Justice Madan B Lokur of the Supreme Court said dissent is the essence of freedom of speech, democracy and good governance. He said, “Wanton arrests, search and seizure are undermining life and liberty and are troubling on the human rights front. An independent judiciary is a must for the ‘Idea of India’. Unless we have a judiciary that stands up and speaks up, the Constitution will become a piece of document which we discuss on every 26th of November.”

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 2:59:02 AM |

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