Migrant Crisis: Judiciary Failed India’s Citizens, Says Supreme Court Bar Association President Dushyant Dave
Barring some of the high courts, the judiciary has left citizens to fend for themselves, said Dave.
India's judiciary has failed to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic, Supreme Court Bar Association President Dushyant Dave said in a lecture on Saturday.
Barring some of the high courts, the judiciary has left citizens to fend for themselves. This is not what the Constitution commands and not what constitutional morality demands, said Senior Advocate Dave, referring to Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees the right to life with dignity.
The dignity of hundreds and millions of citizens has completely been taken away. They are virtually left naked in every city, every village, and every highway of this country. And yet, the Supreme Court simply said how can we stop them from walking?Dushyant Dave, President, Supreme Court Bar Association
Dave was referring to an observation made by the top court on May 15 where it said that it was impossible for the courts to monitor or stop migrants from walking home, and that it was the state governments' responsibility to take necessary action.
Even as he criticised the Narendra Modi government for enforcing a nationwide lockdown on March 24 with a four-hour notice, Dave said the Supreme Court chose to sit silent and allowed citizens to suffer.
The Supreme Court Bar Association president also said the court, in its past judgments, had said that it was duty-bound to enforce the fundamental rights of citizens. In this case, Dave said the judiciary completely abdicated its responsibilities.
“What prevents individual judges of the Supreme Court taking suo motu cognizance of these matters? They should not worry that the Chief Justice is master of the rolls. Let them confront the Chief Justice’s power in every high court and Supreme Court and say that Chief Justice if you are not willing to act, we are willing to act,’’ said Dave.
India reported its first case of the coronavirus on Jan. 30. The number of confirmed cases has since risen to 1,25,101, out of which 69,597 are active cases. The nationwide lockdown, the fourth round of which is now in effect till May 31, has led to an exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages.
Can you imagine every migrant family walking on the roads and what they must be going through? What suffering they must be going through and what feelings they must be harbouring in their hearts about this nation, which has completely failed them and left them to fend for themselves?Dushyant Dave, President, Supreme Court Bar Association
Dave said that it was also the responsibility of the lawyers to persuade and galvanize the judges into action, adding that criticism of the judiciary is not contempt of court.
‘’When history is written 100 years down the road we will all be condemned. And it will be written that this generation of Indians failed the nation,” said Dave.