Mumbai, February 11
The Constitution of India is a remarkable homegrown product of self-governance, dignity and independence and while some speak of it in entirely adulatory terms, many others are cynical about its success, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said on Saturday.
The CJI, who was speaking at the first convocation ceremony of the Maharashtra National Law University in Nagpur, said India's colonial masters did not bestow the Constitution on us.
When the Constitution is viewed from the context in which it emerged, it is nothing short of remarkable, he asserted.
While the Constitution has made tremendous strides, much work needs to be accomplished and the deep rooted inequality that existed in the past persists even today, the CJI further said.
If young law students and graduates are guided by constitutional values then they would not fail, he added.
Referring to the Preamble, he said it is a short but weighty party to the Constitution, and states that "We the people of India give to ourselves this Constitution".
"This is immeasurably significant because it marks the transition of the people of India from the status of subjects to the status of citizens. The colonial masters did not bestow the Constitution upon us as an act of grace. Ours (Constitution) is a document that is home grown…a product of self-governance, dignity and independence," the CJI said.
"The success of our Constitution is generally viewed from two opposite ends of the spectrum. Some people speak of our Constitution in entirely adulatory terms, while others are cynical of the success of our Constitution. The reality is neither here nor there," he said.
As a government document, the potential of the Constitution is "indeed informative", the CJI said.
"When the Constitution is viewed from the context in which it emerged, it is nothing short of remarkable," the Chief Justice of India said, adding the Constitution has made tremendous strides towards a more just and democratic society.
"But much work remains to be accomplished till we rest. The deep-rooted inequality, which fractured our society at the time of Independence, persists even today. The best and surest way to make this inequality a distant dream of the past is to inculcate the spirit of constitutionalism in our society," he opined.
Speaking about difficulties faced by Babasaheb Ambedkar, CJI Chandrachud said Indians are indebted to him for many of the constitutional rights and remedies that we take for granted today.
"The decks were stacked against him because of a society diseased with caste and yet he persisted and went on to become one of the most towering personalities in the history of our country, probably the world," the CJI said of the legendary social reformer and jurist.
Confronted with a situation where one has to choose between saying and doing nothing and saying or doing something, the CJI said saying or doing nothing is probably the safer, less risky option but choosing the more difficult latter option and to attempt to make a realign of law and society with justice is more courageous.
Even an attempt to make the world a better place makes the world a better place, and by doing so people would be upholding constitutional values, the CJI said.
To ensure everyone is a citizen of substance in the truest sense, there has to be fulfilment of the promise in the Preamble that "we will secure social, economic, and political justice for all", CJI Chandrachud said.
Speaking at the convocation, he asserted that William Shakespeare had captured the intangible close to indescribable feeling of saying goodbye to someone or something.
Quoting Shakespeare, the CJI said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow, and sweet sorrow it is indeed to leave the life you shared with your friends and peers behind." He said students are like freshly fallen snow or freshly fallen rain with no marks made upon them, adding that his advice to them was simple, which was to "be guided by constitutional values in your professional life and you will not fail".
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