At a time when the judiciary is facing criticism and scrutiny from the masses for the colonized, Western-approval seeking mindsets of a section of top judges unduly influenced by the Lutyens lawyer cabal, Supreme Court judge Justice Vikram Nath made an important point about how duties have forever preceded rights in the Bharatiya civilizational context.
Justice Nath emphasised that fundamental duties under the Constitution have always preceded rights. He added that duty towards the social structure comes first, followed by assertion of personal rights and the chariot of life is propelled by two wheels of rights and duties, and duties have forever preceded the existence of rights.
“It would be a deeply flawed thinking if any person feels that his rights trump that of the collective. In proper balancing of both, duty towards the social structure comes first followed by assertion of personal rights with respect to our contemporaries,” he said on the theme “Fundamental Duties vis-a-vis Fundamental Rights” at the 2nd Justice H.R. Khanna National Symposium.
“A citizen of India has the right to life but the Indian Constitution also places a duty on him to respect other peoples’ lives and to avoid putting his own life at risk. The existence of duties allows for enjoyment of rights,” he said.
Justice Nath said fundamental rights were incorporated in the Constitution to ensure a sense of security and equality against the backdrop of a diverse population, and they have to be read along with fundamental duties, and cannot stand alone.
He cited the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana to assert the significance of duties and added that the concept of duties has deep roots in Bharatiya civilisation where the society is based on ‘dharma’. If rights and duties co-exist and strengthen one another, “we can attain the ultimate purpose that rights and duties serve – a welfare society and hence exercising one’s rights also entails respecting the rights of others”, he said
Justice Vikram Nath also emphasised that domestic interest should not be lost sight of while taking international goals forward. He said that though our vision should be for a global competition, but it should also be equally concerned with the interest and rights of all around us in our country.
Justice Vikram Nath is in line to be Chief Justice of Indian in 2027.
This is a welcome development. More such judges, who we hope constitute the silent majority among the top echelons of judiciary, should come forward and speak openly about how Bharat’s institutions need to serve the interests of the people of Bharat and uphold timeless Dharmic ethos on which our civilization is founded. Just paying lip service to the idea of ‘Indianization of judiciary’ is no longer going to cut it. The Constitution is an important (not holy) document for any nation, but it is never frozen in time and needs to adapt to changing ground realities and needs of the citizenry.
At any rate, the writers of our Constitution had never envisaged the current-day collegium system through which judges elect judges, with the elected government acting as a rubber stamp for all effects and purposes. The collegium system was introduced in 1993 after a series of judgements known as the Three Judges Cases. Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution dealing with the appointment of Supreme Court (SC) and High Court (HC) judges have over time been interpreted to mean the very opposite of what the Constitution originally provided for. In doing so, the President’s primacy (acting on recommendation of PM) was replaced by the primacy of the Chief Justice or the Collegium. Even former CJIs have criticized this system, which some critics term a naked power grab taking advantage of the unstable coalition-politics era.
(With IANS inputs)