Shouldn't misuse anti-terror law to "quell dissent", says Justice Chandrachud

Criminal law, including anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent, Justice Chandrachud said while addressing an event on legal ties between India and the US

Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud
Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud
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NH Web Desk

Anti-terror law should not be "misused for quelling dissent", said Supreme Court Judge Justice Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud during an event on the legal ties between India and the United States

According to a report in NDTV, Justice Chandrachud said, "Criminal law, including anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent or harassment to citizens. As I noted in my judgement 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.”

"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," Chandrachud said.

The Supreme Court Judge was speaking at Indo-US Joint Summer Conference on Indo-US legal ties, reported NDTV.

Chandrachud’s remark came amid uproar over the death of 84-year-old activist Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the anti-terror law- Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or UAPA - in the Elgar Parishad case last year. Swamy passed away last week in Mumbai in the middle of his fight for bail on health grounds.

In another case, Akhil Gogoi, a prominent and young leader of Assam was freed after one and a half year in prison. He was arrested during the strong protests across India against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

The student activist Umar Khalid arrested under the UAPA has completed three hundred days in prison. There are many such activists who have been imprisoned for protesting against the present government policies.

Chandrachud made several other remarks on Indo-US ties and said the United States is a "torchbearer in promoting liberty, freedom of speech and expression and religious peace".


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

"India, being the oldest and largest democracy, represents ideals of multicultural, pluralist society where their constitutions are focused on a deep commitment 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 added.

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

"One of the most cited anecdotes of American influence has been on the right to protection of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the constitution, as against its conception in the Bill of Rights, which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law," Chandrachud said.

"(For) my judgement on decrimalising same-sex relationship between adults, I relied on US Supreme Court decision in Lawrence Vs Texas," he said.

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Published: 13 Jul 2021, 2:34 PM