Government has no right to stifle peaceful protest: SC Judge Deepak Gupta

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 25, 2020 Published on February 25, 2020

Supreme Court Judge Deepak Gupta said majoritarianism is anti-thesis of democracy

Supreme Court Judge Deepak Gupta on Monday said “quelling and discouraging” dissent can have serious repercussions on democracy and no government has the right to stifle a protest unless it turns violent, NDTV reported.

Justice Gupta further added that governments cannot always be right and he sees “majoritarianism as an anti-thesis to democracy.”

Justice Gupta said this while speaking at an event in New Delhi on ‘Dissent and Democracy’. He also raised concerns over people branding dissenters as anti-nationals, as per media reports.

Justice Gupta also said that if some party gets 51 per cent votes, does that mean the other 49 per cent should not speak for five years? Adding that every citizen has a role to play in democracy and governments are not always right.

He added: Having a "contrarian view" does not mean disrespect to the country. There will be dissent whenever there is a clash of ideas, and the right to question is an "inherent part of democracy”.

Justice Gupta mentioned Gandhi, Marx, Mohammad’s way of dissent to challenge old thoughts and said that if all follow the well-trodden path there will be no expansion of mind and vistas, NDTV reported.

He added that he has seen bar associations passing resolutions saying they will not appear as some matter is anti-national. He asserted that this should not be done and no one can be denied legal aid.

Justice Gupta said a society will not develop until rules are questioned.

The remarks came amidst Delhi witnessing violent clashes that broke out in pockets of Jafrabad, Maujpur-Babarpur, Gokulpuri, Johri Enclave, and Shiv Vihar, between protesters and supporters of the new citizenship law, according to media reports.

Last week, Justice DY Chandrachud had also described dissent as democracy’s safety valve and said that branding those who dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic "strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values.”

Published on February 25, 2020
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