Supreme Court Judge DY Chandrachud on Sunday said that our constitutional culture does not sustain itself and it is up to the citizens to change the constitution.
“Our constitutional culture does not sustain itself. It is up to each of us citizens to take part in the slow but important task of transforming our Constitution from a charter of ideals to a reflection of reality,” he said in his address at the 11th convocation of OP Jindal Global University in Delhi.
“When Benjamin Franklin was leaving the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman met him and asked him what type of government the Constitutional Convention envisaged. He replied: ‘A republic if you can keep it. ‘ His answer is retrospective to all of us in India today,” he said.
Justice Chandrachud, who is in line to take over as the Chief Justice of India in November this year, said promoting social democracy and social justice is not the responsibility of the government and the judiciary alone.
“The judiciary has a major role to play in promoting social democracy. However, the quest for constitutional culture is not limited to the courtroom or the black letter of the law.”
Invoking Dr. B R Ambedkar, the judge described social democracy as a way of life that recognizes social liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.
“Independence Day should not become another ritualistic celebration of our freedom struggle, rather it should become a site for a critical introspection of our progress in fulfilling the values in the Constitution, which our Constitution makers – both women and men – achieved.” expressed a desire to do so,” he said.
Justice Chandrachud also referred to his own recent judgment in July that gave an unmarried woman the right to terminate a pregnancy beyond the 20-week time limit in law on the ground that the status of her relationship had changed. “But what really bothers me is this. In this case, the petitioner had access to effective legal representation to remove legal and social barriers. But think of the many women across India who find themselves in similar situations seeking help—social or legal. This highlights that although women may have access to material choices, the exercise of such options is dependent on material preconditions,” he said.