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Saturday, March 2, 2024

“No such thing as too much dissent… highways and bridges not important, preserving Constitutional Idea of India is”: Mumbai HC judge

Mumbai HC judge Justice Gautam Patel recently opined that there is no such thing as too much dissent in the constitutional scheme of things. Patel was speaking as the Chief Guest at The Leaflet’s Constitution Day talk titled Undermining the idea of India: The Way Forward.

Justice Patel on dissent

An article in the Times of India (ToI) in this regard quotes Justice Patel:

“Governments will come and governments will go, but the idea of India, the Constitutional idea of India, resilient though it has proved to be, must be protected,” Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay high court said on Friday, adding “history will not judge us by our highways or bridges or statues, it will judge us by how well we have preserved the Constitutional idea of India and saved it from being undermined.”

“In the Constitutional scheme of things there is no such thing as too much noise or too much dissent. If there is one thing the Constitution does not contemplate it is the comfort of conformity or the tranquility of the familiar…

…The counter points and counter narratives are now, thanks to technology, almost impossible to silence. There may be more adverse comments and more noisiness now than ever before. But is that not the point. Is it not what our Constitution contemplates or even demands, when it says the idea of India is embedded in the concept of union of states and of its constitutionally mandated choice to give any government its marching orders at defined intervals.”The judge said, “There is only one idea of India. The Constitutional idea. It is in an Article of the Constitution that is seldom discussed or addressed. Article 1. The Article 1 states that India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of States.”… 

…Justice Patel said it is time to stop using terms like ‘ruling party’ and ‘rulers’ as people are ‘governed’, not ruled. It is time to get rid of “colonial linguistic baggage”, he said, adding, “India has no rulers and so long as the Constitution exists it never will be. It may be governed for a limited period of time, but never ruled,” he said…

…He also said there are two “beacons,” one of which is the judiciary, the “last bastion or the final frontier”. “The judiciary frightens the government seeking to cling to power like nothing else does. Our own history shows repeated attempts to weaken the judiciary, most especially during the Emergency, and we are again, by no means, alone. From Turkey to eastern Europe to South America and the United States, this is a tale with regional variations,” said the judge.

Unreasonable dissent blocking development?

It has become fashionable to throw around words like ‘dissent’, ‘idea of India’, ‘constitutional idea’ and the like to sound intellectual. Judiciary has often displayed double standards which is true even in the case of accepting dissent. For the judiciary, only certain sections of the society have the right to protest even if that inconveniences the citizens as did the ‘farmer’ and anti-CAA protests.

Unreasonable PILs (Public Interest litigations) and litigations have become roadblocks in the path of development as PM Modi highlighted while speaking at the Constitution Day celebration in November this year.

“Today no nation exists as a colony to any other nation. Doesn’t mean that colonial mindset has ended. This mindset is giving birth to many skewed ideas. Glaring example of this is the impediments put in the (way of) progress of developing countries. The resources and the path which led to the western countries reaching the status of ‘developed’, today there is an attempt to restrict the same resources and the same path for the developing nations. In the last few decades, these attempts have been variously nomenclatured. But, the internecine agenda of all these attempts is the same – stop the progress of developing nations”, the PM said.

We have seen how international pressure has often been built to make Bharat bow to the whims and fancies of so-called farmers. Similarly, projects such as the Mumbai metro project that would benefit common citizens have been delayed with huge cost overrun due to woke activism and dystopian democracy. Another point raised by Justice Patel is regarding the role of the judiciary. “The judiciary frightens the government seeking to cling to power like nothing else does”, he had opined.

However, the fact remains that the collegium system in practice at present is a means to propagate nepotism while showing no accountability. There are more than four crores pending cases that require the attention of the judiciary but isn’t being attended to.

Judges often casually throw around the ‘constitutional idea of India’ which has no meaning and is used only as a propaganda. Essentially, the constitution is made for the country but the country isn’t made for the constitution. The constitution is subject to changes and amendments must be made in keeping with the changing needs of the nation.

Dissent is important but one section of dissenters can’t be termed as ‘trolls’ just because they don’t fit into the judiciary’s secular narrative while anarchists are allowed to go scot-free in the name of freedom of speech and expression.

(Featured Image Source: The Logical Indian)

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