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Justice Jasti Chelameswar: Freedom of speech is essential for the survival of democracy

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Justice Jasti Chelameswar, retired as the second most senior Judge of the Supreme Court on June 22, is one of the most respected judges in recent history. His press conference on the allocation of cases in the apex court was seen as most controversial one. However is of the opinion that ‘freedom of speech is essential for the survival of a democracy’.

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Sharing his opinion on the recent controversies in the Supreme Court, as reported by the Bar and Bench, he said, “I believe silence is not an option when things are going wrong. I still believe so. Of course, there are a lot of people, vulnerable people who believed otherwise. It is their opinion, I am entitled to my views. I suppose that is democracy. It is for the future generations to judge who is right, whose view is more sound, and whose view is more beneficial at large.”

A couple of months ago, Justice Chelameswar had called a press meeting, along with other justices of the apex court in which he pointed out how things are not working the highest justice making authority of the country. Speaking on the freedom aspect, he pointed out, “Notwithstanding some abuse of the liberty, freedom of speech is essential for the survival of a democracy. It is a very minor price that we pay for retaining our larger liberties.”

Justice Chelameswar said that he is not afraid of being abused. He said, as quoted by the news website, “I think that is a healthy attitude to have in a democracy. If somebody wants to abuse, let him abuse; what is going to happen? People have abused me; somebody has carried out a relentless campaign over the last six months, attributing all kinds of motives to my press conference.” He further added, “If somebody wants to abuse, it is his liberty. I had taken an oath to protect his liberty and I protected it.”

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