Social morality: Chief Justice on his minority verdict on same-sex marriage

Explaining his minority sentence in The recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said judges do not apply “social morality” while deciding cases. He also pointed out that often decisions made on constitutional issues are a “voice of conscience”.

Speaking at the 3rd Discussion on Comparative Constitutional Law jointly organized by Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, and Society for Democratic Rights (SDR), New Delhi, the CJI noted that he was part of a minority ruling allowing queer people to marry and adopted children, until three judges differed from him and ruled otherwise.

“Our Constitution speaks of fraternity, which means it postulates equality and brotherhood, the unique unity of our civilization,” CJI Chandrachud said. He emphasized that the Indian Constitution was conceived not only as a political document but also as an instrument of social transformation.

The Chief Justice emphasized the importance of addressing the historical discrimination people have suffered and using the constitution as a peaceful means to bring about social change. It also articulates the duty of judges in modern times to use their platform for reason and deliberation, distinguishing them from societies where the rule of law has given way to violence.

“I am a judge and it is my duty to look fundamentally at the history of discrimination that people have suffered and to use the constitution as a peaceful means to achieve social transformation. In so many societies around the world you will find the rule of law giving way to the rule of violence. The key to a stable society is the ability of judges to use the constitution and their own platform as a platform for reason and deliberation,” CJI Chandrahud pointed out.

CJI Chandrachud recognized the importance of the process of deliberation in the courts as it encourages emerging consensus and offers hope for a better future for society. He recognized that judges representing the diversity of the nation and its different cultures, backgrounds and experiences may have different views.

However, the overarching focus, according to the Chief Justice, must remain on understanding the enduring intent of the constitution. “It is essential to recognize the values ​​that are indispensable to the existence of the nation to ensure that democracy and the rule of law flourish and endure,” he said.

Speaking on the role of judges, CJI Chandrachud affirmed their vital role in maintaining stability and societal progress, especially in a fast-changing technology-driven world. He reiterated that the judiciary serves as a stabilizing influence in an ever-evolving society, especially in the context of pluralistic nations like India.

Referring to cases decided by the judges, including same-sex verdicts, the CJI said that the results of these cases are important in themselves, but the process itself is as important as the result.

“Because in the process of debating the constitution that goes on in court, you are fostering a new and emerging consensus.” And in this consensus that has emerged through this process of deliberation, let us hope for a better future for our society,” the CJI said.

Posted by:

Sahil Sinha

Posted on:

October 24, 2023

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