Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has said that the mere right to change the ruler every few years need not be a guarantee against tyranny. The CJI also noted that elections, political discourses, criticisms and voicing of protests are integral to the democratic process. The CJI was virtually addressing the 17th Justice P D Desai Memorial Trust lecture, organised by the Praleen Trust, on the topic of ‘Rule of Law’.
During his address, CJI Ramana stated that judges cannot stay in ivory castles and they have to be mindful of the fact that the hype created on social media does not necessarily reflect what is right and what the majority believes. Ramana said that while the masses have performed their duties in the 17 general elections reasonably well, it’s now the turn of those manning the key organisations of the state to ponder if they are living up to the Constitutional mandate.
Reacting on the issue of independence of the judiciary, the CJI stated that the judiciary cannot be controlled, directly or indirectly, by the legislature or the executive. He said if it happens, the rule of law would become illusory.
He also said that media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding a case. “The new media tools that have the enormous amplifying ability are incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, good and bad, and the real and fake. Therefore, media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases. It is, therefore, extremely vital to function independently and withstand all external aids and pressures. While there is a lot of discussion about the pressure from the executive, it is also imperative to start a discourse as to how social media trends can affect the institutions… The above, however, should not be understood as meaning that judges and the judiciary need to completely disassociate from what is going on. Judges cannot stay in ‘ivory castles’ and decide questions which pertain to social issues,” the Indian Express quoted the CJI as saying.
The CJI also emphasised the principles of the rule of law. CJI NV Ramana said that the first principle embodies that laws must be clear and accessible. He said that laws should be worded in simple, unambiguous language.