VIJAYAWADA: Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second senior-most Supreme Court judge, on Sunday strongly refuted rumours circulating in the social media about his alleged association with a political party, asserting, “I strongly believe that personal beliefs, and preferences must not be brought into this job... I declared my political connections the very next day after becoming a judge. I did not hide it. I thought I would not be eligible for this job if I could not tell the truth that day. Today, the people who talk about me... I don’t know how many great men have made such a declaration... please find out.”
Justice Chelameswar, who held an unprecedented press conference along with three other senior judges earlier this month expressing concern over the selection of benches by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to hear high-profile cases, also clarified that the presser was held to highlight steps the administration had failed in taking to protect the institution. He was delivering the Kantamaneni Ravindra Rao memorial lecture on “Constitutionalsm-Civil Society” at the Siddhartha College here.
Apparently anguished by the aspersions being cast on him, he recalled that his critics had earlier unleashed a similar malicious campaign against him in the wake of his dissenting judgement on the National Judicial Appointments Commission and opined that like the mythological “Mohini-Basmasura” story, the social media narrative could lead to destruction. In the same breath, he cautioned, “There is freedom but it must be used rationally... people can air their views but within the Constitutional framework.” He further said, “I have four more months to retire. I will come here and settle in this district. I am building a house. I will not go to this government or that government or anyone and never beg for any job.”
He also spoke at length on constitutional values, pointing out that equality is the cornerstone of our Constitution. “Inequality has always been there in society. It is the intention of the Constitution to ensure equality in every way... economically, socially and culturally. Today, there is widespread inequality in the country. Democracy is in danger due to the increased money power in elections, dynasty politics and corruption. Everyone must be ethical. That is the best service to the country. The Constitution is not just a book. It is a way of life.”
And then, he raised a pertinent question: “If what the majority believe is the law, where is the need for a Constitution?” To drive home his point, he cited the example of Greek philosopher Socrates. “What the majority believe need not always be a just conclusion. Greek philosopher Socrates never asked anyone to kill others but he used to air his views and ideology. But people thought he was instigating a revolution and condemned him to death. The opinions of the majority change. We need not think it is always correct.”