Right to dissent essence of a vibrant democracy, says Delhi High Court

THE DELHI High Court on Friday stated {that a} democracy ruled by the rule of regulation can be “in serious peril” if “creative voices were stifled or intellectual freedom was suppressed or suffocated”. Quoting French author Voltaire in its order, the court docket stated: “While I wholly disagree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

“The freedoms guaranteed by Article 19 are not liable to be freely expressed only if they fall in line with a majoritarian view. The right to dissent or to have and express a contrarian view with respect to current affairs or historical events are the essence of a vibrant democracy,” stated Justice Yashwant Varma within the order, dismissing a petition searching for a ban on Congress chief Salman Khurshid’s newest ebook, Sunrise over Ayodhya, wherein he equates Hindutva teams with terror outfits like Islamic State and Boko Haram.

The court docket stated the elemental and valuable proper assured by the Constitution can neither be restricted nor denied merely on the perceived apprehension of the view being unpalatable or unpleasant to some. “The freedom to freely express ideas and opinions cannot be permitted to be overshadowed by the ominous cloud of being non-conformist,” stated Justice Varma.

The HC stated the liberty of speech and expression as conferred and assured by Article 19 of the Constitution have to be protected by courts until it’s “conclusively established that the work would fall foul of the constitutional or statutory restrictions on the exercise of that right which apply.”

On Thursday, in the course of the listening to of the petition, the court docket had stated: “Nobody had asked them to read it. They could have shut their eyes and not read it”, after the petitioner’s counsel claimed that the ebook had led to “communal incidents” at 4 locations. “What can we do if people are feeling so sensitive,” Justice Varma had stated.

Justice Varma, within the order, famous that the allegations levelled and apprehensions expressed usually are not primarily based on a holistic studying of the work authored by Khurshid. “In fact, the book in its entirety was not even placed before the court for its consideration,” the court docket stated.