Justice D.Y. Chandrachud
Justice D.Y. Chandrachud | Photo: National Law University, Delhi | YouTube
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Just over a year ago, Indian liberals were swooning over Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, hailing him as one of the few progressive voices left in the Supreme Court. Agog at his passionately-written dissent notes on Aadhaar and the controversial arrest of five activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, the media hailed him as “a judge who is not afraid to dissent”, “the man who doesn’t mince words”, and “judge with a mind of his own.”

Come November 2019, and the same Justice Chandrachud seems to have disappointed his liberal fans for not writing a dissenting judgment in the Ayodhya verdict, which has allowed for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site.

But this is not new for Chandrachud, who has swung from one extreme of the ideological spectrum to the other with confounding ease. While he may have been the saviour of India’s democratic values and the spirit of dissent for some, Justice Chandrachud himself has made no bones about not having any ideological loyalty, saying he would “better like to be known as a nationalist judge”.

His job is “not to satisfy the conscience” of either the NGOs or those in power, he had once said.

Yet, he remained the knight in shining armour for the liberals, turning into a progressive “rock star” after his two dissent notes. In his judgment holding Aadhaar as “unconstitutional”, Chandrachud said the biometric system had the “potential for surveillance”.

His observation that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy” while hearing a plea against the arrest of five activists became the abiding mantra for liberals to swear by. While the Supreme Court bench had refused to interfere in the matter, Chandrachud had disagreed with the majority view, saying an SIT should be set up to probe their arrest.

In the historic judgment holding privacy as a fundamental right, Justice Chandrachud was one of the five Supreme Court judges to overturn the infamous ADM Jabalpur judgment – authored by his father, late CJI Y.V. Cha­ndrachud, among others – which ruled that the right to life itself could be suspended during an emergency. Justice Chandrachud went on to overrule another judgment by his father which had upheld the controversial adultery law.


Also read: What makes Justice D.Y. Chandrachud the new ‘rock star’ of the Indian judiciary


Inconsistent liberal

But inspiring as some of his judgments may be for liberals, his credentials as a liberal have been somewhat inconsistent, to say the least.

In 2018, Chandrachud, along with former CJI Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar summarily dismissed a bunch of PILs seeking an independent probe into the death of Brijgopal Harkishan Loya in December 2014, and said that the petitions were an attempt to scandalise and obstruct the course of justice.

He went on to say that PILs are “capable of being and (have) been brazenly misutilised by persons with a personal agenda.”

“At one end of that spectrum are those cases where public interest petitions are motivated by a desire to seek publicity. At the other end of the spectrum are petitions which have been instituted at the behest of business or political rivals to settle scores behind the facade of a public interest litigation,” he had said.

That same year, when CJI Misra was at the receiving end of criticism for assigning important cases to himself, Chandrachud was part of a three-judge bench that ruled it was the “exclusive prerogative” of the CJI to allocate cases and constitute benches.

In the controversial Hadiya case, while Chandrachud’s intervention and line of questioning led to the Supreme Court restoring her marriage to a Muslim man, the court fell short of disallowing the NIA from investigating a terror angle in her marriage.

In 2017, Chandrachud was also part of a three-judge bench that banned liquor vends on highways – a judgment that the Supreme Court had to later significantly dilute.

Now, in the Ayodhya verdict, Chandrachud, who is slated to become the CJI for a term of two years in 2022, chose to tread carefully. He refused to dissent in a judgment that unanimously concludes that the site where the Babri Masjid was constructed was the Janmsthan (birthplace) of Lord Ram.

After this judgment, it is unlikely that liberals would be waiting for Justice Chandrachud’s term as Chief with bated breath like they were just about a year ago.

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21 Comments Share Your Views

21 COMMENTS

  1. Article in bad taste. Only liberal view is correct. All judgements should be written by Liberals. You seem to be creating a niche for yourself by carrying all such articles. 🤔🤔

  2. DYC should be please to read this article which clearly shows him to be not following a particular line. There never can be a judgment which can please everyone. Whenever a judgement goes against someone the disappointment will be there but in civilised society it has be accepted with respect. Ones a judge goes on the bench it is not healthy to start looking at his ideology etc. One may have an opinion on it but to start writing about it, is quite damaging to the institution. This amounts to misuse of the freedom of expression. Opinion is Like an —-hole everyone has one, but when and where to bare it is the discretion one must exercise.

  3. pseudo-liberals and pseudo-secularists exposed once again!
    If you don’t agree with THEM, you are not a liberal! How contradictory!
    But, probably they forgot that there is a growing size of educated, critically thinking Indians who can understand this contradiction.
    Or may be they are still under the illusion that the country blinds follows them.

  4. It is no surprise that so called liberals have been totally disappointed and disillusioned by the unanimous judgement of Sc on Ayodhya issue. The least they were hoping was 4-1 or better still, 3-2 judgment so that they can continue to further their agenda against BJP using this judgement. In view of his, it is to be expected that the DYC will be the fall guy for this cabal. SC needs to ensure that this PIL industry needs to be scotched completely and one day in a fortnight should be kept for admitting these cases strictly on merits.

  5. Wow. What a breathtaking assertion by the author. So, if anything is not to your liking then of course the fault lies with the other guy!

    The contempt of the liberal pseuds on display.

    Thanks, Sanjay Dhingra for exposing yourself and your liberal pseuds once again. Liberals exposed: it’s a ghastly sight….makes me retch at their utter duplicity.

  6. Well he is not consistent that’s for sure,yes not expecting much from him any more.The days of the great Justice HR Khanna , Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha,Justice Chelameshwar are long over now.
    God Bless our beautiful country.
    I don’t want to loose Hope….

    • What ‘consistency’ are you expecting? Judges are not expected to be political so no judge will pass judgements on the basis of pro or anti BJP reputation granted by armchair liberals like you. Chandrachud’s judgements have always been consistent with the LAW. Problem is you don’t care about law, only politics.

  7. Liberals are an elitist bunch with very little or no tolerance (let alone acceptance) of the views/opinions of others. If you concur with them and their opinions all the time, they consider you to be a part of the gang. The moment you differ, you are labelled a conservative right-wing status quoist.
    Justice Chandrachud is respected for his integrity and impartiality. He surely does not need an endorsement from the liberal/secular cabal.

  8. This argument is nonsensical even from the point of view of common sense let alone a legal view(I am sure any lawyer would just laugh at it). Why should Chandrachud dissent just for the sake of there being a dissenting opinion? What matter is what his judgement is. If he agrees with the other judges that’s the end of it. The problem is these people only care about politics and they don’t realize that in fact the judiciary is an apolitical institution and passes judgements based on law and interpretation of law.

  9. As a son of a former CJI, should we not be surprised at how many of these connected people make it to the bench? There are other examples as well. His use of injudicious language and a lack of appreciation of other perspectives make it totally unfit to be on the court. Nepotism lives on in our unreformed courts.

    • It is not his fault that he is TALENTED son of former CJI of India. Look at his education and then comment. He studied at HARVARD on a SCHOLARSHIP and won the prestigious Joseph H Beale prize.

      • Let’s be clear he was selected by a process that is entirely opaque and ends up selecting children of senior judges and of senior members of the bar far too often. If only going to Harvard was a great criteria, then Rahul Gandhi would also quality. Instead, Rahul has to go through an arduous vetting process by the people through an election. There is no evidence of Justice Chandrachud having gone through any vetting at all. The long delays in the courts, contradictory judgments, injudicious language, and running down others are all examples of a judiciary whose process of selection leaves me with grave doubts. The troublesome conduct of previous chief justices like Thakur (used open threats to rule on law suits that he would hold back in abeyance), Khera (overturned a constitutional amendment that he had a personal conflict with), and numerous other judges leaves me with very little respect for the judiciary. While Chandrachud may be personally educated, I have strong doubts about his suitability based on the kind of language he used. Check out the Sabrimala ruling where the principles of “standing” were ignored and yet another case the very next month where they were cited.

  10. How The Author Sanya Dhingra can expect in every Judgement Chandrachud give his dissent? Because these liberals label Chandrachud as Liberal,should he give always dissent? Liberals in India have gone really mad. Pray God,give wisdom to these mad Liberals in India for better Democracy.

    • The English word liberal denotes a person who is moderate and civilised in his views. Bigots , majoritarians and racists have made it a swear word.

      • Nope, a liberal means a person who favour liberalism as political ideology. They act like a group, just like the author of the piece here shows.

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