Ruling parties believe governmental actions are entitled to judicial endorsement and opposition parties expect it to espouse their cause, but the judiciary is answerable only to the Constitution, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said on Saturday even as he rued that in the 75th year of Independence, the country has still not learnt to appreciate wholly the roles assigned by the Constitution to each institution.
“As we celebrate 75th year of Independence this year and as our Republic turned 72, with some sense of regret, I must add here that we still haven’t learnt to appreciate wholly the roles and responsibilities assigned by the Constitution to each of the institutions. The party in power believes that every governmental action is entitled to judicial endorsement. The parties in opposition expect the judiciary to advance their political positions and causes,” the CJI said, adding that “this flawed thinking of all hues flourishes in the absence of proper understanding among people about the Constitution and the functioning of the democratic institutions”.
“It is the vigorously promoted ignorance among the general public which is coming to the aid of such forces whose only aim is to run down the only independent organ. i.e., the judiciary. Let me make it clear. We are answerable to the Constitution and Constitution alone,” the CJI said.
He added that “to enforce checks and balances envisioned in the Constitution, we need to promote constitutional culture in India. We need to spread awareness about the roles and responsibilities of individuals and institutions. Democracy is all about participation”.
CJI Ramana was speaking at a felicitation organised by the Association of Indian Americans in San Francisco.
Citing the example of the United States of America, the CJI also stressed the need for honouring inclusivity “everywhere in the world including in India” and cautioned that “a non-inclusive approach is an invitation to disaster”.
Complimenting the Indian community for its achievements, the CJI said, “It is the tolerance and inclusive nature of American society that is able to attract the best talents from all over the world, which in turn is contributing to its growth. Honouring qualified talents from diverse backgrounds is also essential to sustain confidence of all the sections of the society in the system.”
“This principle of inclusivity is universal. It needs to be honoured everywhere in the world, including in India. Inclusivity strengthens unity in society which is key to peace and progress. We need to focus on issues that unite us, not on those that divide us. In the 21st century, we cannot allow petty, narrow and divisive issues to dictate human and societal relationships. We have to rise above all the divisive issues to remain focused on human development. A non-inclusive approach is an invitation to disaster,” CJI Ramana said.
He told the gathering that “both India and the United States are known for their diversity. This diversity needs to be honoured and cherished, everywhere in the world. It is only because Unites States honours and respects diversity, that you were all able to reach this country and make a mark through your hard work and extraordinary skills”
CJI Ramana said that “a nation that welcomes everyone with open arms, a nation that assimilates all cultures and a nation that honours every language is bound to be progressive, peaceful and vibrant. It is this character that promotes prosperity”.
The CJI said that once upon a time, arriving in countries like the USA for work or study used to be the prerogative of a few privileged families but this has changed “due to the vision of some leaders and chief ministers who have laid a solid foundation for India-centric growth almost two decades ago”.
The CJI added that “such foundations meant for long term growth should never be disturbed. All over the world, with the change in government, policies do change. But no sensible, mature and patriotic government would alter the policies in such a manner which would slow down or halt the growth of its own territory”.
He regretted that “unfortunately, we do not come across such sensibility and maturity in India too often, whenever there is a change in government”.
The CJI also urged the community to start thinking like employers, and not just employees, so as to help India reap the demographic dividend.