The Bombay High Court on Tuesday, while commending tolerance shown in Indian society, said it was a difficult virtue to practise for a country of 1.3 billion people with different identities. The court also said politicians, judiciary, media and others in public life are responsible for upholding fundamental rights in a democracy.
The High Court also said many in India, including tribals, may not be aware of their fundamental rights and it is a difficult exercise for the authorities to promote awareness among them.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik made these observations while hearing a plea filed by Sunaina Holey (38), a Navi Mumbai resident booked for allegedly making offensive remarks on social media against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya in July. Justice Shinde said, “In our country, we need to look at our society, the population and the social fabric. We are one of the few countries. At the end of the day, 130 crore people are living in this country. We have been taught tolerance since childhood. Also, the foreigners who visit, get surprised about harmony in our country. If you compare to any other countries regarding tolerance, we have 130 crore people living together. It is not a joke, it is not easy. The tolerance is creditable.”
Justice Shinde added, “How many persons in our country know about their fundamental rights? That is the problem. It is a difficult exercise, especially for tribal people. Nowadays, the Constitution of India is translated in regional languages including Marathi by the government, which is helpful.”
The court also said while the freedom of speech vests with the citizen, the same should be exercised without infringing the rights of others. “There will be criticism in democratic setup. Even in the judiciary, we are open to it. Contempt is the last resort. Otherwise, precious time of court is wasted in hearing and important matters are sidelined. Ultimately, those who are working in judiciary, media, police, politics, all should work with a free mind and congenial atmosphere be maintained,” Justice Shinde added.
Due to paucity of time, the court posted further hearing on December 17.
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