THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Backing students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who protested against the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member Justice Cyriac Joseph said that the students' opposition towards capital punishment could not be called "anti-national".
"Andhyarujina (former Solicitor General of India) had called it (Afsal Guru's hanging) an execution most foul. The same thing was said by Ram Jethmalani (former Union Law Minister). They were not called anti-national. If they can say that, the students can also say (the same)," Justice Cyriac Joseph said while inaugurating a seminar at the Law Academy Law College here.
Stating that patriotism was not the "monopoly of a particular religion", Justice Cyriac Joseph said that merely because a person wears a particular dress or holds aloft the national flag, he or she could not be called patriotic. Critcising the policies of the government was not anti-national, he added.
The jurist said that prohibiting dissent or denying freedom of speech and expression was against constitutional values. Democratic values in the Constitution can only be protected by practising tolerance, he added.
Asianet News Editor M G Radhakrishnan presided over the function. Open Magazine Executive Editor Ullekh N P was also present on the occasion.