'Tolerating different views does not mean accepting hate speech': Justice DY Chandrachud at GNLU convocation

Justice Chandrachud was virtually presiding over the 11th convocation of Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) at Gujarat Capital Gandhinagar on Saturday.

Darshan DesaiUpdated: Sunday, August 07, 2022, 10:21 PM IST
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Justice DY Chandrachud |

In a veritable commentary on the current socio-political scenario in the country, Justice D Y Chandrachud of the Supreme Court has asserted that tolerating and accepting various opinions does not translate into accepting hate speech.

Justice Chandrachud averred: "The words famously attributed to Voltaire, 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' must be incorporated into our being.”

“Making mistakes, being accepting and tolerant to the opinions of others by no means translates to blind conformity, and it does not mean not standing up against hate speech," the Supreme Court judge said.

Justice Chandrachud was virtually presiding over the 11th convocation of Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) at Gujarat Capital Gandhinagar on Saturday.

He exhorted the 2020 batch not to bother about the distractions and pressures that social media creates and said those have a limited attention span while their real work was about changing the persistent systems of caste, race, gender and class, which only have long-term impacts.

Justice Chandrachud cited American author Seth Godin to present an analogy of the current and the wind. With its howls and gusts, the wind gets all the attention but it is the current that is persistent and heavy.

He elaborated, "The current is our persistent systems of class, race and gender and the powerful industrial economy. And if I may add, in our context also caste. It can be overcome, but it takes a focused effort."

The Supreme Court judge went on to explain, "On the other hand, the wind is the breaking news, the latest social media sensation and the thin layer of hype that surrounds us. It might be a useful distraction, but our real work lies in overcoming the current, or changing it."

"It also helps to remember, especially in the world of social media with limited attention spans, that a lot of the work we do will only have a long-term impact. That you should not worry too much about the everyday distractions," he said.

In a significant statement, Justice Chandrachud said, “In today's world of polarizing opinions and conflicting actions, legitimizing and balancing thought is a grave responsibility of each citizen - young and old.”

"Stepping into the world as fresh graduates, amid the increasing noise and confusion of political, social and moral clashes of ideology, you must be guided by the paths of your conscience and equitable reason," he asserted.

"Speak truth to power, maintain your composure in the face of unspeakable social injustices and utilize your good fortune and privileged positions to remedy them. It may seem idealistic, but as young wide-eyed graduates, you must aspire to attain utopia - for the harbingers of change are often hopeless dreamers," Justice Chandrachud told the future lawyers and judges.

As many as 247 students were conferred degrees at the convocation, including 171 students of the five-year integrated UG programme, 61 students of the PG programme, 12 students of MBA and three doctoral students.

GNLU conferred 27 gold medals to 16 students of which 15 medals were won by eight girls.

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