Supreme Court judge Justice Tirath Singh Thakur who took charge as Chief Justice of India on Sunday has made remarkable statements joining the intolerance debate and discourses going on in the country for the past few weeks.
Thakur was sworn in as the 43rd Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function in Rashtrapati bhavan also attended by Prime Minister Modi. In an interaction with the journalists, he assured the people that they needn’t worry because the judiciary was there to uphold the rule of law and to protect the rights of all sections. Calling the row on the rising intolerance in the country as a ‘matter of perception’, he said that India belonged to all religions and even to those who fled religious discrimination and persecution in their home countries and that there was a ‘need to promote a sense of an inclusive society and mutual respect for other religions’. In the wake of intensifying atmosphere of hate and fear spread among the minority communities, the words of the country’s top judge brings immense relief to the people. India has been witnessing repeated incidents of intolerance after Modi government came to power. Hate speeches provoking the sentiments of minorities, igniting communal riots, the infamous Dadri lynching that triggered widespread condemnation inside the country as well as globally and killing innocents in the name of terrorism as well as those who refused to follow the right-wing ideologies have been carried out repeatedly by the right-wing fanatics. India which was a symbol of tolerance and secularism before the world invited criticisms from global leaders and intellectuals. The government remained silent over all such fascist tendencies sowing fear and anxiety in the minds of people and eventually leading to protests.
What still angered the ruling party were not the brutal approaches of the fanatics but the warning of the patriots that it would lead to the loss of the country’s image and pride. During the discussions in Parliament at the Constitution Day celebrations, the Home Minister as well as the senior Ministers of the ruling party was annoyed for pointing out the decline of tolerance in the country. The Centre has been reluctant to move against the uncivilized tendencies to kill innocents out of trivial reasons by imparting communal colours to issues or take effective steps against it. Even the state governors and Chief Ministers remained silent against the rising intolerance. It was then President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his anxiety warning the nation several times of the consequences and urging the people to hold onto humanism and pluralism under all circumstances. Justice Thakur said that he was not into political arguments and controversies and that as a head of the institution that upholds the rule of law and protects the constitution, he was trying to protect the social order enshrined in the Constitution. His statements coming amid the rising insecurities among the different communities and the attempts of the Centre and those backing the government to aggravate the existing tension in the country, is noteworthy. Moves incorporating the core of his statements are expected from the part of the judiciary. When those driven by Fascists tendencies take on power they might not curtail the activities of their lunatic supporters. If the ruling party had been able to rein them down, tragic episodes like the Dadri lynching and communal riots in Muzaffarnagar wouldn’t have repeated. The authorities dupe the people into believing their affirmations which come only when the protests strengthen. If the citizens are ensured the protection of the law irrespective of caste and religion, it would not just retain the faith of the people in the judiciary but also improve the picture of the country as well. Judiciary could help lend the support required when the principles of democracy are torn apart. Let Justice Thakur lead the way. The determination to make that happen is what is expected by the nation.