Anti-terror law shouldn’t be misused to curb dissent: Chandrachud

‘Deprivation of liberty for even a single day is one too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic issues of our decisions,’ says Justice DY Chandrachud

India's Constitution is focused on a deep commitment to and respect for human rights, said Justice Chandrachud. Representational Visual

Supreme Court Judge Justice DY Chandrachud said on Monday (July 12) that anti-terror law should not be “misused for quelling dissent.” He was addressing an event on the legal ties between India and the United States, NDTV reported.

“Criminal law, including anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent or harassment to citizens. As I noted in my judgment in Arnab Goswami vs the State, our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defence against the deprivation of liberty of citizens,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“Deprivation of liberty for even a single day is one too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic issues of our decisions,” he added.

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Also read: When state strikes: How UAPA locks one up with almost nil chance for bail

The event was organized by the American Bar Association’s International Law Section, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators India, and the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF).

His remarks at the Indo-US Joint Summer Conference on Indo-US legal ties came days after the death of social activist Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the Elgar Parishad case last year. He died last week in Mumbai even as he fought for bail on health grounds.

Then, there was the case of Assam leader Akhil Gogoi. He was freed after one-and-a-half years over violent protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. He has pledged to continue his fight against the UAPA misuse.

Also read: Fix liability for misuse of UAPA by police, politicians

In another case, a Kashmiri man was released a few weeks back after a legal fight of 11 years on being found innocent.

Justice Chandrachud said the United States is a torchbearer in promoting liberty, freedom of speech and expression and religious peace. “India, being the largest democracy, represents ideals of multicultural, pluralist society where the Constitution are focused on a deep commitment to and respect for human rights,” he said.

The top courts in India and the United States have “both been termed as the most powerful courts in terms of their own might,” Justice Chandrachud further said, adding the US “influence on Indian jurisprudence cannot be understated”.

“It has contributed to the heart and soul of the Indian constitution,” he said.

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