Ex-CJI also made a strong plea for cultivating idea of tolerance, acceptance and respecting others' views.
New Delhi: Observing that an individual cannot be bereft of constitutional morality, former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday made a strong plea for cultivating the idea of tolerance, acceptance and respecting others' views.
Misra, who demitted office on October 2, also questioned how anyone can indulge in moral policing when there is a rule of law and a robust and independent judiciary, comments that came against the backdrop of rise in moral policing incidents.
Misra, who headed the benches that delivered a series of judgements on important issues including the criminalisation of politics, adultery, homosexuality, lynching and Sabarimala temple, said constitutional sovereignty was supreme and that India has a robust independent judiciary which is governed by rule of law.
The former CJI was addressing the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
Citing the recent apex court verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages to the Sabarimala temple, he said: "We introduced the concept of constitutional morality and we have said that this morality is one which is evolved by the Constitution.”
“I am happy that I am described as warrior of gender justice. You cannot keep the women of a particular religion out of a temple. Women have to be respected and she is equal partner of a man in life." Therefore, he added, "you cannot keep women away (from the temple)".
Misra, who headed the bench which recommended that Parliament enact a law on lynching, questioned how a man or a group can indulge in moral policing and urged the society to "cultivate the idea of tolerance and respecting the views of others".
He said: "How can a man do moral policing, we have a rule of law, we have a robust, independent judiciary and robust sense of rule of law... In lynching, an individual begins to harbour the attitude to take law into their hands, becoming law into themselves, it is in the backdrop of the idea of tolerance which we must cultivate.”
"We must cultivate the idea of tolerance, the idea of acceptance, the idea of respecting others' views, unless we do that we are violating the rule of law and Constitutional morality."
Stressing on the need for separation of powers by different wings of the state, Misra said courts do not legislate and it was for the Legislature to frame laws.
"In the NCT Delhi case, the court reiterated that Constitutional morality in the strictest sense which conveyed complete adherence to constitutional principles of the country, which every member of the country, should adhere to.”
"Both the constitutional functionaries are required to show constitutional behaviour, trust and morality so that we can have constitutional governance," he added.
He said that as a citizen of India, no one should feel that the Constitution is alien to him nor should he ever feel that he is not a part of it. He mentioned his judgement on Homosexuality and said, "Identity is divinity. Unless you accept this, you lose your divinity endowed by the divinity itself."
Quoting German thinker, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, he said, "I am what I am, so take me as I am".
He also spoke about his judgements in Hadiya case, Khap panchayat and Adultery to highlight the concept of constitutional morality and said the beauty of the Indian Constitution is that it believes in the concept of "I, you and we" which is the fulcrum of constitutional morality.