Elections no guarantee against tyranny: CJI Ramanna
New Delhi, July 01: Polls may not be a guarantee agains the tyranny of the election, Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana said while delivering the 17th Justice P D Desai Memorial Lecture on Wednesday evening.
"It has always been well recognized that the mere right to change the ruler, once every few years, by itself need not be a guarantee against tyranny," he said. Justice Ramanna also said that COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis and the governments should reflect how it has used the rule of law to deal with the pandemic and protect citizens.
"The idea that people are the ultimate sovereign is also to be found in notions of human dignity and autonomy. A public discourse, that is both reasoned and reasonable, is to be seen as an inherent aspect of human dignity and hence essential to a properly functioning democracy," he said.
"For the judiciary to apply checks on governmental power and action, it has to have complete freedom.
The judiciary cannot be controlled, directly or indirectly, by the legislature or the executive, or else the Rule of Law would become illusory. "Judges should not be swayed by the emotional pitch of public opinion either, which is getting amplified through social media platforms. Judges have to be mindful of the fact that the noise thus amplified is not necessarily reflective of what is right and what majority believes in," he further added.
The new media tools that have enormous amplifying ability are incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, good and bad and the real and fake."
"It is therefore extremely vital to function independently and withstand all external aids and pressures. While there is a lot of discussion about the pressure from the executive, it is also imperative to start a discourse as to how social media trends can affect the institutions."
"The entire world is facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of Covid-19. At this juncture, we necessarily have to pause and ask ourselves as to what extent we have used the Rule of Law to ensure protection to, and welfare of all of our people. I do not intend to provide an evaluation of the same.
Both my office and my temperament prevent me from doing so. But I began to feel that this pandemic might yet be a mere curtain raiser to much larger crises in the decades to come. Surely we must at least begin the process of analysing what we did right and where we went wrong," Justice Ramanna said.