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‘Rights are paper tigers unless given teeth by courts’: Full text of Justice Chandrachud speech

Speaking at an event in King's College, London, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud discussed the Supreme Court's role in the protection of human rights for various sections of India.

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London: Supreme Court Judge Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud Monday discussed the significant role the apex court has played in the protection of human rights for various sections of India, from women to the LGBTQ+ community. He spoke on the relationship between courts and the protection of human rights in a democracy, at an event in King’s College, London.

In his speech, he also mentioned the challenging task of the Supreme Court to do “complete justice” under Article 142 of the Constitution. “Judges are not infallible. Decisions once thought to be final are reviewed by succeeding generations,” Chandrachud said.

He illustrated the various ways in which courts in India have worked to preserve civil liberties within the country, such as allowing challenges to provisions like the Punjab Excise Act of 1914 or granting a person autonomy to choose their profession. Similarly, the Supreme Court’s role in the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India & others case, gave recognition to the suffering that members of the transgender community faced and eventually also led to a review and better understanding of gender identities within Indian laws.

Chandrachud also briefly discussed the court’s role in protecting the rights of convicts who are granted death penalties.

Read the full text of the speech here:

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