The inaugural lecture, organised at the London School of Economics (LSE) as a collaboration between the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK and LSE South Asia Centre on Wednesday, included the Supreme Court judge tracing the role of the courts in India.
He described the Supreme Court’s decisions as “aspirational”.
“Law is an aspiration for change, and the answers one gets are based on how you frame the discourse,” said Justice Chandrachud.
“External dissonance is not a mark of weakness but of the strength of a Constitution,” he noted.
The senior judge went on to reflect upon the Constitution as a “transformative document” in which the judiciary and legislature recognise various conceptions of these rights, and that is the language in which political and social issues are generally framed. People with different socio-political views use this language to advocate their rights. In the Indian context, affirmative action is debated on facets of the right to equality.
Justice Chandrachud explored the possibility for conflicting rights to exist within one constitutional framework. He explained how the judiciary interprets rights based on its vision of the common good with respect to the Constitution and while national identities are identifiable by a nation’s past, a constitutional identity draws a balance.
“Our survival depends on our ability to stay awake,” he said.
Engaging with a range of questions from an enthusiastic audience, largely made up of students, Justice Chandrachud spoke on judicial impartiality in the context of social media and media trials, inclusive representation, role of artificial intelligence in adjudication, digitisation and data privacy, amongst other topics.
“The LSE, which incidentally is also celebrating the centenary of Dr B R Ambedkar’s PhD this year, is where the NISAU was born, and for us to mark this triple occasion in the presence of Dr Chandrachud has been a great honour,” said NISAU UK chair Sanam Arora.
“Justice Dr Chandrachud meticulously invoked India’s constitutional ethos that upholds sacrifice and commitment of the founding fathers of our republic towards steadily achieving social, economic and political justice for all,” added Vignesh Karthik, Head of Thought Leadership at NISAU UK.
The event began with Opening Remarks from Professor Alnoor Bhimani, Director of the LSE South Asia Centre.