Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud. (Photo Credit: Twitter/ANI)
Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud on Saturday described dissent as democracy's "safety valve", and said branding those who dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic "strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values".
“The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to the protection of constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy,” Chandrachud said while speaking at the convocation ceremony at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU).
Chandrachud said liberal democracies ensure that citizens enjoy the right to express their views in every conceivable manner including right to protest and express dissent against prevailing laws.
“A state, committed to the rule of law, ensures that state apparatus isn't employed to curb legitimate and peaceful protests but to create spaces conducive to deliberations,” said Justice Chandrachud said.
Justice Chandrachud also asked the students to develop the "courage to dissent" and be optimistic and true to their conscience. He asked the budding law professionals to learn to handle failures and do something good every day in life.
“Remember to question. Very often when we grow up in a good family, we are told to abide by authority. But as you grow up in life, it is also important to stand up. Be the dissenters. Because it is only through your power to express your views, to dissent, to have the courage of stating a contrary position that you make others stop and think," he said.
“Courage is the hallmark of a lawyer. And by courage, I don't mean merely the courage of standing up to government. That's not the only courage that I am referring to. People who stand up against the state may make headlines in newspapers. But we want citizens who have the courage to stand up for someone who cannot stand up for themselves," the supreme court judge said.
Justice Chandrachud also said that it needs courage to "stand up against a judge who believes in an issue and he is wrong".
“To stand up before that judge and say, sorry, you are wrong, in a very respectful way. Standing up to your seniors and mentors...” he said. A total 218 students graduated at the 10th annual convocation of the GNLU. He also advised the graduating students to learn to handle failures.
“Failures are occasion to begin anew. Failure teaches you something about life,” he said. Justice Chandrachud also advised students to be optimistic.
“The great danger in our society today is the danger of cynicism. It's not of any form of extremism. But the grave danger we face is the danger of cynicism. Being cynical about society, nation, relationships, about the roads, transport...
“Be optimistic, and keep the flame within you burning bright. Every corner of your life, there will be some opportunity for temptation, whether in professionallife or in personal relationships. Ultimately, you answer your own conscience in whatever you do,” he said.
Justice Chandrachud also asked the students to set their own standards.
“Do a little good turn to someone every day of your life. You do not have to be big social reformer. In electronic age, we live behind our footprints. Burt just as you leave the footprints behind, make sure they are such that you would be happy to think of ten years down the line," he added.
(With PTI inputs)