Idea of tolerance part of of constitutional morality: Ex-CJI
New Delhi : Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on Friday said that the idea of tolerance was a part of constitutional morality and abandoning it would mean "violating the rule of law".
"In a pluralist society, we must cultivate the idea of tolerance, acceptance, accommodation and the idea of respecting others. If we don't do it, we'd violate the spirit of law and constitutional morality," Misra said while speaking on "Constitutional morality and the rights" at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.
"When lynching was going on, a case came to the court. What is this lynching? It is when a man or a group does moral policing. How can they do moral policing? There is a law. There is a rule of law.
"We (the court) said that in the lynching cases, the majesty of law cannot be compromised simply because an individual or a group harbours the attitude to take enforcement of law in his hands and gradually becomes the law unto himself," he said.
Misra dwelt on cases in which the Supreme Court invoked the principle of constitutional morality in the recent past, such as in the Sabarimala temple case and in the "turf war" between the Delhi government and the Centre.
"In the Sabarimala temple case, I was presiding over the three-judge bench. We again introduced the concept of constitutional morality. And we have said this morality is not a lexicon morality. It is a morality which is evolved by constitutional framework. Therefore, you cannot keep the women away," Misra said.
He said that the same principle was applied in the Hadiya-Shafin Jahan case.
"The choice was hers (Hadiya). She said she wanted to go with her husband. Two adults saying they are married and they have expressed their choice. Our constitutional morality obligates us to respect it. And we respected it," he said.
"Then this khap panchayat came. The panchayat people argued that we are protecting the society. I said, 'who are you?' If a girl marries a boy, allow them to go. they are adults," he added.
In the Delhi versus Centre case, The apex court interpreted Article 239AA of the Constitution.
"Both the constitutional functionaries -- I do not intend to name them or the positions they hold -- are required to show constitutional behaviour, trust, constitutional expectation, and be guided by the constitutional morality so that you have constitutional governance.
"In a country like ours, it is the constitutional governance which has to reign supreme -- not your will or my will, not his will or her will," he said.