Main hoon na: CJI says don’t fear intolerance

New Delhi : In a Shah Rukh Khan type of twist to the entire debate on intolerance, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur has said there is no need to fear or worry till the judiciary is “independent” and upholds the rule of law. In an informal exchange with media persons, Justice Thakur said: “”Yeh siyasi pahlu hain (this is a political issue). We have a Rule of Law. So long as Rule of Law is there, so long as there is an independent judiciary and so long as courts are upholding the rights and obligations, I do not think anyone has to fear for anything. I am heading the institution which upholds the Rule of Law and the rights of every citizen will be protected… I think we are capable of protecting the rights of all sections of people. My institution is capable of upholding the rights of citizens. Certain rights are for the citizens and certain rights are for non-citizens also and we are capable of protecting the rights.” Chief justice Thakur further said: “India is a big country, we should not be afraid of anything. Yeh sab perception ki baten hain. Jab tak judiciary independent hai, kisi baat ka dar nahi hona chahiye (These are all matters of perception. There is nothing to fear till the judiciary is independent).”

He however made it clear that he would not be commenting on the political aspects of the issue that has triggered a raging debate. “Siyasi log iska kaise upyog karten hain, main kuch nahi kehna chahunga (I do not want to comment anything on how politicians use this). But, we are committed to uphold the Rule of Law and protect the rights of all citizens of the society and people from all creeds and religions. There is no fear to any section of society,” Justice Thakur added. The senior most judge who has recently taken over as the chief justice also added that certain rights are available even to non- citizens, including terrorists, and they too are the beneficiaries of the Rule of Law and can be tried only in conformity with law and “cannot be hanged” without due process.

Defends Kejri’s odd-even formula

Chief Justice T S Thakur has also endorsed the AAP government’s odd-even scheme for plying of private vehicles saying it can be adhered to if it helps in reducing the problem. “We would love to do so if it helps reduce pollution. There is no difficulty in this. I think this is the bare minimum which we can do. People call it sacrifice. This not a sacrifice, this will be symbolic — showing that judges are doing it,” he said when asked if judges would resort to car-pooling to reach the court. He added that he could share the car with his next door neighbour, Justice A K Sikri.

“Odd number hai, ya even number hai, iss se fark nahi padta (whether the car has an odd or even registration number does not matter), because in any case, you reach court in a car,” he added. In a radical step, the Kejriwal government has announced that private vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers will be allowed to ply only on alternate days starting January 1 next year. Reacting to the Chief Justice’s views, Kejriwal said in a tweet, “CJI’s support 2 odd even formula is welcome n huge encouragement. SC judges pooling cars wud inspire millions 2 follow. Thank u My Lords”.

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