- He said constitutional liberties must be protected to preserve democracy
- Don't trust even a great man with power to subvert institutions, he said
- His warning comes amid Congress allegations of subversion of institutes
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday underscored the primacy of the Constitution and warned that to preserve democracy and the country's institutions, the constitutional liberties must be safeguarded.
"We must observe the caution which (British political economist) John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in maintenance of democracy, namely not to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man. Or to trust him with power which enables him to subvert their institutions," the Chief Justice said at an event to mark Constitution Day on Monday. "There is nothing wrong in being grateful to a great man who has rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness," he added.
The Constitution Day, marking the adoption of the constitution in 1950, is "inextricably entwined" in our lives and it is in our best interest to pay attention to its advice, the Chief Justice said. "If we do not, our hubris will result in sharp descent into chaos," he said.
His warning comes amid Congress allegations of subversion of institutes by the government, which have been sharpened after the recent crisis at the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Over the last year, the Congress and the BJP have levelled tit-for-tat political attacks, accusing each other of failing to uphold the Constitution.
In April, following a spate of attacks on people from the Scheduled Castes, the Congress had launched a year-long "Save the Constitution" campaign.
Hours later, BJP chief Amit Shah accused the Congress of trampling on the Constitution for 60 years. The Congress, he said, had also tried to impeach the Chief Justice of India and accused the party of attacking every institution, including the national auditor CAG, the Election Commission, the Army and the Supreme Court at different points of time.
Over the last few months, the Congress has alleged that the BJP-led government was tearing apart the judiciary, the Election Commission, the CBI and the Reserve Bank.