Chandrachud vs Chandrachud: a Battle to Ethics

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The son of Justice YV Chandrachud, Justice DY Chandrachud, is currently a judge in the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

A DAY BEFORE, Justice D Y Chandrachud granted bail to television anchor Arnab Goswami in a case of abetment to suicide. While doing so Justice DYC grandly stated: “If we as a Constitutional Court do not protect liberty, then who will?

Varavara Rao

This is a lofty sentiment. One expects no less from the Supreme Court. Will the SC keep the sentiment when 80-year old poet Varavara Rao, in diapers due to urinary infection, is seeking medical intervention?

Will the SC keep the sentiment when 82-year old missionary and activist Stan Swamy, suffering from Alzheimer’s, seeks a sipper to drink water because he can’t hold a glass in his hands?

Will the SC keep the sentiment when in May over 600 civil society members, comprising of activists, lawyers and academicians, has called for the release of lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj and academic Shoma Sen?

Or the release of alleged Maoists Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Hany Babu, Gautam Navlakha, and Anand Teltumbde booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the Bhima Koregaon case.

chandrachudWhat about those arrested for their protests against the CAA and NRC, on the alleged basis of their role in the anti-Muslim pogrom in north-east Delhi in February 2020: Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Umar Khalid?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), more than 67 per cent of 4.33 lakh inmates lodged in 1,400 jails in the country are undertrials. They include 1,942 children also live in prisons along with their mothers. What about their liberties?

Precedent

Coming back to Justice D Y Chandrachud. He is the son of former Justice V V Chandrachud.

After Indira Gandhi’s election to Lok Sabha was countermanded in 1975, and she was debarred from election for six years by Justice Sinha of the Allahabad High Court, she first declared Emergency. Then she went to the Supreme Court for relief.

The 5-judge bench of Supreme Court comprised of Justice A.N. Ray, Justice H.R. Khanna, Justice K.K. Mathew, Justice M.H. Beg and Justice Y.V. Chandrachud. The bench set aside the verdict of the Allahabad High Court. The decision automatically removed the six-year bar on Mrs Gandhi holding any elective office, entailed in the High Court judgement.

Later in 1976, the validity of wide-spread arrests under Emergency provisions were challenged in Supreme Court, a case known as the ADM Jabalpur case. Nine High Courts had already declared the emergency arrests invalid and were releasing people. In a five-judge bench of Supreme Court, Justice Khanna was in favour of invalidating the emergency arrests. But Justice P.N.Bhagwati and Justice Y. V. Chandrachud prevailed.

Thus, the judges gave a decision in favour of Emergency detentions. The Supreme Court upheld the suspension of liberties under Emergency provisions. The Emergency arrests of political leaders thus validated by SC, mayhem was brought upon the nation with increasing ruthlessness. Most political leaders and common voices of dissent were arrested.

Regret

Chandrachud
Justice Y V Chandrachud

Once Emergency ended, and the Janata Party government was in place – in a speech to FICCI in 1978, Justice Y V Chandrachud said: “I regret that I did not have the courage to lay down my office and tell the people, well, this is the law.”

He maintained that he upheld the narrow reading of the law, but that he should have had the courage to stand up and walk out of his chamber and should have resigned instead.

Wherever the history of Emergency is written, the role of Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice Y.V. Chandrachud in validating the excesses of Emergency, and in setting aside the concept of personal liberty, is seen as a black spot in the history of judiciary as well.

Courage

Chandrachud
Justice D Y Chandrachud

The son of Justice Y.V.Chandrachud, Justice D Y Chandrachud, is currently a judge in the Hon’ble Supreme Court and with his exemplary judgements has spent his life seemingly removing the black spot of history from his family name. He is generally seen as a beacon of justice.

With cases pending listed above, with the new case of comic stand up Kunal Kamra now coming to court, it remains to be seen if he makes the same mistakes that his father did?Or would he in these dark times in the nation, where the powers that be routinely subvert the law, uphold the law?

Time will tell, and the time is coming fast when Hon’ble Supreme Court’s will and capacity to uphold justice will be tested on the same yardstick as in the times of Emergency.

Also Read:

Arnab Goswami’s freedom, and my father’s: Sanjiv Bhatt’s Son Responds To Odious Comparisons

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