That is not something to be taken lightly when India’s Union Law Minister criticises retiring judges in a severe way. The Minister’s claim that retired judges who disagree with “state policies” are “anti-India” components not only betrays a lack of conceptual understanding, but also raises serious concerns among the public.
The Minister’s concluding comment was intimidating in tone and tempo and foreshadows serious future danger since it is based on the false belief that certain judges are working against India and “would have to pay the price.” It was inappropriate to involve retired judges in the matter. The Minister’s remarks are libellous and highlight more significant concerns that go to the heart of our politics.
Judges who resign from their positions as judges continue to remain citizens of this nation. They haven’t given up their fundamental rights in exchange for the pension they get. Individuals have a responsibility to speak up when they see the legislative branch, the executive branch, or even the court exceeding its bounds since they have a right to free speech and expression.
Questioning the state does not constitute being “anti-national.” It involves acting as a “concerned patriot.” The state must then either defend the policies it has implemented or heed the counsel given and change its direction. Free speech must produce more speech, not disguised generalisations.Those that are brave and outspoken and will continue to voice their minds won’t be intimidated by the comments said. But, the rest of the populace will experience the “chilling impact” of the comments uttered.
The market for ideas will be sparsely filled as a result. The Minister mentioned a seminar where judges and senior attorneys participated and where the topic was “Accountability in Judges Appointment,” but he claimed that the discussion was about “how the government was taking over the Indian judiciary,” so there may be fewer symposia on important topics going forward. There may be dread because no less a person than the Minister for Law and Justice has warned that anyone who cross his line (which contains conceptions of government and the nation as a whole inherent in it) will “face the price.”
All of this will only have a negative impact on the country. The state will not be held accountable for its actions even though they are legal and constitutional since doing so would put the person in danger. He or she is being kept in fear because they have “been warned” that they would “pay the price” if their behaviour does not satisfy the executive’s standards.
In Whitney v. California, nearly a century ago, Justice Louis D. Brandeis said something profound that still resonates today: “Those who won our independence believed that the ultimate goal of the state was to give people the freedom to develop their faculties, and that in its governance the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary.They viewed liberty as a goal and a tool. They thought that courage was the key to liberty and that freedom was the key to happiness.
They held that “freedom to think and speak as one wishes and to assemble as one wishes are means indispensable to the discovery and dissemination of political truth; that discussion would be useless without these freedoms; that discussion with them provides typically adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest threat to freedom is an inert people; and that public discussion is a political duty.
It makes sense to assume that the Prime Minister, who is a dynamic speaker and a strong opponent of many of the policies of the previous administration, would undoubtedly not want his administration to be connected to such a terrifying statement made by his Law Minister.
Moreover, it will be legitimate to hope and anticipate that the two top constitutional officials will now consider this matter and take steps to limit any future harm to India’s constitutional character. Only then will everyone understand that quiet cannot be forced by the law in India. or by the Ministry of Law.