Liberty Cannot Be Bartered: Ex-CJI

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NEW DELHI — Former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Saturday said liberty is a “permanent value” which cannot be “bartered” and any dilution of civil liberties will lead to disorder and anarchy.

 “Life without liberty is meaningless… Life and liberty must welcome dissent, discord, disagreement. Without them life is a rose without fragrance,” Misra, who had presided over benches which delivered key verdicts related to fundamental rights like liberty, sexual autonomy and dignity, said at the Jagran Forum organised here on the 75th anniversary of the Dainik Jagran.

Quoting former US president Thomas Jefferson, Misra said, “When the Government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the Government, it  is tyranny”.

The former CJI referred to recent judgments by Constitution benches of the Apex Court on issues like decriminalising consensual gay sex and allowing women of all age groups into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. He stressed that the right to choose was a key part of liberty.

“When the court struck it (provision criminalising homosexuality) down, various opinions were drafted but the basic was that you must have choice, dignity and autonomy,” he said.

Civil liberties are the cornerstone of the nation and their “dilution” will “lead to disorder anarchy”, he said, stressing that protection of civil rights should be the sole guiding force.

The CJI also said that if anybody plays with the Constitution, “then he should know that he is compromising with the rights of his future generations”

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