Supreme Court Justice Madan B. Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court, has said that registering cases against those protesting against the government is a cut in freedom of speech and expression. Justice Lokur said, ‘In recent times there has been a tremendous increase in sedition cases related to expression. Treason is a very serious charge. We had freedom fighters like Gandhiji, Lok Manyata Tilak, who were charged with treason and today the common man is being charged with treason. ‘
Justice Lokur said this while addressing the inaugural session of Madhu Babu Memorial Lecture. It was organized by Odisha Dialogues on Wednesday, with the theme, ‘Can India’s judiciary save democracy’. He referred to a recent incident in Uttar Pradesh in which a man demanded to provide oxygen for his 88-year-old ill grandfather. The Amethi police registered a case against him under the Pandemic Act and accused him of creating fear among the people.
He said, ‘If a person asks for help on social media, is he committing a crime? These are the means and means through which freedom of speech and expression is being curtailed. ‘ Justice Lokur expressed concern over the condition of the judiciary. He said, ‘The judiciary should first organize its house.’
He said, ‘The appointment of judges is being hung for months and in some cases for years. There is a considerable lack of infrastructure. There are 40 per cent vacancies in the High Courts and 20 per cent in the lower courts. There is a lack of transparency in the functioning of the judiciary. Most importantly, the independence of the judiciary is being viewed with suspicion. ‘
Referring to the current state of the judiciary, he said, ‘We need to introspect seriously. Are we doing the right things. ‘ He said, ‘How can the judiciary save democracy? Can it protect itself to some extent? I do not know. I am leaving it to you citizens. ‘
Justice Lokur said that free and fair elections, fundamental freedom and independence of judiciary are some of the components of Indian democracy. On the use of electoral bonds in elections, Justice Lokur said that hundreds of crores of rupees are being raised through opaque electoral bonds and spent on state elections at a time when the country is struggling with lack of resources to fight the epidemic is.
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