Supreme Court judge D Y Chandrachud. Credit: PTI Photo

By  Ashish Tripathi

Supreme Court judge D Y Chandrachud has said that anti-terror legislation or any other criminal law should not be used for muzzling dissent and that deprivation of liberty for even a single day is “one too many”.

He stressed that courts must act as the “first line of defence” in such instances. Justice Chandrachud was speaking at Indo-US Joint Summer Conference on Indo-US legal ties on
Monday evening. He emphasised that no law can be employed to harass citizens and take away their “Criminal law, including anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent or harassing 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,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud said that deprivation of liberty for even a single day is “one too many” and that judges must always be mindful of the deeper systemic issues of their decisions.

“Today, the world’s oldest and largest democracy represent these ideals of a multicultural, pluralist society where their Constitution is focused on a deep commitment and respect for human rights,” the judge said.

Justice Chandrachud’s observations came amid outrage over the death of 84-year-old tribal activist Stan Swamy, who arrested under the anti-terror law in the Elgar Parishad case last year. He died last week in a Mumbai hospital, even as his bail plea remained pending.

Recently, Assam activist and MLA Akhil Gogoi was discharged in a UAPA case after spending about 17 months behind bars over violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

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