SC judge:opposing govt can’t be labelled as anti-national

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Supreme Court judge Deepak Gupta on Monday said if attempts are made to quell dissent, then it will have a chilling effect on democracy, as “governments are not always right” and that opposing government can’t be labelled as anti-national.

Speaking at the lecture hosted by Supreme Court Bar Association on democracy and dissent, Justice Gupta emphasized the essence of democracy by stating that majoritarianism is antithesis to democracy. “There have been many recent incidents where people have been called anti-national because they dissented from the government,” he said.

“If some party gets 51% votes, does that mean the other 49% should not speak for 5 years…every citizen has a role to play in democracy….governments are not always right,” said Justice Gupta.

“Just because you take a contararian view, it does not mean disrespect to the country. Whenever there is a clash of ideas, there will be dissent. Right to question is an inherent part of democracy.”

He reiterated that the Opposition has the right to protest as long as peaceful means are adopted. Justice Gupta also cited excerpts from a lecture recently given by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, which said: “Blatant labelling if dissent as anti-national stops deliberative democracy.”

Citing vital components of democracy, Justice Gupta said democracy is considered successful, if it protects the civil rights of the citizens. “Dissent has an important role, it should be encouraged…it leads to finding better ways to run the country”, he added.