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19th October 2023 (9 Topics)

Demolishing the frame from outside the Constitution

Context:

After the string of events including the recent one related to NewsClick arrest has revealed that the Constitution's essence is at risk, facing threats not only from textual changes but also from the erosion of its liberal, democratic ethos.

The Severity of Recent Events

  • NewsClick Raids and Arrests: Delhi Police conducted extensive raids on news portal NewsClick. Charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were invoked, alleging links to pro-China elements.
  • Undermining Freedom of Expression: Such drastic actions against the media, including invoking a terrorism law against journalists, highlight a significant threat to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Pattern of Concerning Trends: When viewed alongside other concerning trends like violence against religious minorities and changes in political financing, a troubling pattern emerges, impacting the foundations of democracy and rule of law.

The Role of Courts in Protecting Democracy

  • Court's Role in a Democracy: The role of courts in democracies has long been debated. While unelected, they play a crucial role in safeguarding the democratic process and its integrity.
  • Ensuring Democratic Conditions: Courts must focus on upholding democratic conditions that treat all members with equal respect and concern, encompassing fundamental rights like freedom of speech and expression.
  • Subversion without Textual Changes: Threats to democracy can occur without explicit constitutional amendments. Terrorism charges against journalists and opaque electoral funding illustrate this subtler erosion.

Imperative for Courts to Act

  • Protecting Core Values: Courts possess the authority to preserve democratic principles. Ignoring violations of democratic conditions outside legal texts jeopardizes both the Constitution and the Court's identities.
  • Mitigating Larger Trends: The Court holds ample power to counter the decline in democratic values if it recognizes the broader implications of ongoing trends. Its response is critical for both the nation and the institution.
  • Defining the Future: How the Court addresses this challenge will have profound implications, not only for the people but also for the Court's own legacy and role in upholding democracy
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