Opinion | Matters of personal liberty should not get short shrift
The Supreme Court ought to rethink its caseload and prioritize urgent habeas corpus writ petitions
Last week, in his 2020 Justice PD Desai Memorial Lecture, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud gave a thoughtful speech, titled “The Hues of India: From Plurality to Pluralism", about protecting India’s pluralism by protecting individual rights and liberty. He invoked the word “liberty" 16 times and “freedom" 14 times. Last week, after six months of detention, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, were charged under its Public Safety Act (PSA), a law that allows detention without trial for up to two years. Worse still, hundreds of others are waiting for their day in court for the ruling on their detention. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who expressed enlightened ideas on liberty in his lecture, belongs to a court (with 32 other learned justices) that has not set aside the time to hear habeas corpus cases of hundreds of Indians detained in Kashmir. This apparent contradiction requires further examination.