“Taken Up On Priority”: Justice Chandrachud On UP Bulldozer Demolitions

Justice Chandrachud made these remarks during a lecture at the King’s College in London.

Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud, who is in line to be the Chief Justice of India in November this year for a tenure of two years, said on Monday at an event in London that there is a growing trend in the country where courts are used as the only line of defence to resolve complicated societal and policy-based issues.

Justice Chandrachud made these remarks during a lecture delivered by him at the King’s College in London on the topic “Protecting human rights and preserving civil liberties: The role of courts in a democracy”.

“The growing litigious trend in the country is indicative of the lack of patience in the political discourse. This result is a slippery slope where courts are regarded as the only organ of the State for realization of rights – obviating the need for continuous engagement with the legislature and the executive,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“While the Supreme Court must protect the fundamental rights of the citizens it must not transcend its role by deciding issues requiring the involvement of elected representatives,” he added.

“Doing so would not only be a deviation from the court’s constitutional role but would not serve a democratic society, which at its core, must resolve issues through public deliberation, discourse and the engagement of citizens with their representatives and the constitution,” he said.

In his lecture, he also discussed several judgments of the Supreme Court that have played a key role in the protection of the fundamental rights of citizens. He spoke about various judgments on gender rights and LGBTQ rights.

“The struggles of the LGBTQ community have found a voice in the courts. The members of the LGBTQ community have lived, thrived, endured and loved through the beginning of time,” he said.

“In the face of stigma and prejudice, many have been forced to live their lives closeted from the ‘straight’ society. In turn, they have created their own communities, found liberation in solidarity as they together resisted the heteronormative order and have crafted their own language of ‘being’ when the labels that the society gave them fell short of the diversity that they had to offer to the world,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“LGBTQ liberation movements are gaining momentum today in India and have achieved certain legal milestones,” he added.

When a question was posed to him about the top court not taking up the Uttar Pradesh bulldozer demolitions issue on time he responded saying, “The vacation bench took up the matter on priority. They have issued a notice, which is the first step. Even during vacation, the matter was taken up.”

On being asked about other matters such as Hijab and Article 370 he said that the matters are still pending in court and it would not be appropriate to comment on them.

Recently, a bench of Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Vikram Nath had said that demolitions can only be carried out in accordance with the law and not as a retaliatory measure.

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