Senior lawmaker and advocate Kapil Sibal feels that the judiciary must be more sensitive to people's concerns over "violation of fundamental rights" and ensure that central agencies are not misused for political reasons.
Mr. Sibal, who had quit the Congress a few months back and is presently an Independent Rajya Sabha MP, said the courts must proactively protect people's fundamental rights and the institutions from being misused. Mr. Sibal said certain judgements of the courts reflect the state of the judiciary in the country.
"I think the judiciary should be more sensitive to these concerns (violation of fundamental rights) and take up the causes. There are only two institutions that can protect the fundamental rights of our citizens: the media by bringing to the fore grave issues of violations that are taking place, and the court. I have seen in the past that in some cases, that has not happened," Mr. Sibal told PTI in an interview here.
When asked whether the Opposition has failed to protect the rights of the people, Mr. Sibal said it is the duty of the courts. "If there is an onslaught on the institutions of this country, if those institutions are being misused for political gains, if people are being incarcerated, who must protect them? The Opposition? No.
"The institutions need protection from the courts. The courts need to be sensitive to concerns, so that agencies are not misused for political purposes. The courts must proactively protect people who are languishing in jails for implausible reasons," Mr. Sibal said.
Mr. Sibal, however, declined to comment on whether the judiciary has been politicised. "I don't want to make any comment on that. The judgements of the courts reflect the state of the judiciary...since 2014, there have been certain decisions that make me worry," Mr. Sibal said.
Mr. Sibal slams BJP-led Union government
The veteran parliamentarian slammed the BJP-led Union government for trying to stifle Opposition voices in the Parliament by banning protests. "This is unprecedented and unacceptable. Never have we seen such a situation. To peacefully protest is a democratic right. They want to stop any form of stir; this is what they want," Mr. Sibal said.
Demonstrations, dharnas and religious ceremonies cannot be held in the precincts of the Parliament, according to a circular issued by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The directive has drawn the ire of the Opposition even as Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has insisted that such notices are being issued for years.
Commenting on the way forward from the present situation in the country, the former Union minister said "people's realisation" of the need for a change to ensure a better future will change the current scenario. "Things won't change unless people realise that in the years to come, the nature of the State will change, and their children and grandchildren may not have the future as envisaged by them," Mr. Sibal said.
Regarding Opposition unity, Mr. Sibal said only time would tell how it will take shape. He, however, ruled out that leadership would be an issue.
Mr. Sibal lauds TMC supremo
"Leaders always emerge. Narendra Modi emerged (as leader of BJP)...before that, we didn't see any leaders emerging in the saffron party for many years," Mr. Sibal said. When asked whether West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee can lead the Opposition, Mr. Sibal lauded the TMC supremo as a "great fighter" but said it was for the Opposition parties to decide.
"Don't make me comment on individuals. She is a great fighter; she has the energy of a leader, but I have no idea what happens in the future," he said.
Rubbishing claims by certain Opposition parties that the country should learn lessons from the Sri Lankan crisis, Sibal said the economic situation in the island nation could not be compared with that of India.
"I think every country has its own environment where such things happen. I don't think you can compare the situation in India with that of Sri Lanka. I don't think we are in a situation where we would default on our debt. I am sure all of us – common people, businessmen and leaders — can get together to ensure that India thrives and gets stronger economically in the years to come," Mr. Sibal said.