On Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Justice Vikram Nath cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approach of “thinking globally but acting locally” and said that while advancing international goals, national interests should not not be lost sight of.
Justice Nath, speaking on the theme “Fundamental Duties vs. Fundamental Rights” at the 2nd National Justice HR Khanna Symposium, also said that duties must be done before expecting rights are respected and that it is deeply erroneous to think that individual rights take precedence over that of the collective.
The symposium was hosted virtually by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow & National Law University, Odisha, as well as the Confederation of Alumni of National Law Universities (CAN Foundation).
Justice Nath said Prime Minister Modi’s approach of ‘thinking globally but acting locally’ also implies that while our vision must be to compete globally, it must also be mindful of interest and rights. others in the country.
“Our Prime Minister has time and again insisted on the approach of ‘thinking globally but acting locally’, which implies that our vision must be to compete globally while also being concerned with the interests and rights of all those around us in our country.
“The word ‘locally’ has immense meaning attached to it, which means that when advancing our international goals, national interests must not be lost sight of,” the judge said.
Justice Nath said that fundamental duties under the Indian Constitution have always preceded rights and that in balancing rights and duties, duty to social structure comes first, followed by assertion of personal rights .
“What is the right of an individual? Perhaps the collective duty of others to him. Likewise, what may be one individual’s duty to the collective may be vital to the greater enjoyment of rights by another group of individuals. It would be a deeply mistaken thought if anyone felt that their rights outweighed those of the collective. In a proper balance between the two, duty to the social structure comes first, followed by the assertion of personal rights to our contemporaries,” he said.
Justice Nath said that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin and that fundamental rights were incorporated into our Constitution to provide a sense of security and equality to our diverse population, but they cannot not stand alone and should be read with basic homework.
“An Indian citizen has the right to life, but the Indian Constitution also imposes on him the duty to respect the lives of others and to avoid endangering his own life. The existence of duties allows the enjoyment of rights. There is a fundamental duty for each fundamental right. In case a person does not fulfill his duties, the concept of rights and duties to have a well-being and peaceful society becomes meaningless,” he said.
“Fundamental duties have always preceded rights and must be seen in their entirety. The Supreme Court of India has also in a host of judgments reiterated the same view,” he added.
The Supreme Court Justice explained that “the chariot of life is propelled by two wheels of rights and duties” and that duties have always preceded the existence of rights in all times and in all societies.
“If rights and duties co-exist and reinforce each other, we can achieve the ultimate goal that rights and duties serve – a society of well-being and, therefore, the exercise of one’s rights also implies respect for rights. others. The fundamental pillars of any enduring civilization have been the duties of citizens to one another, from which rights emanate,” he said.
“The very existence of rights is a consequence of the recognition and performance of duties by others and for this reason I am still firmly convinced that duties have always preceded the existence of rights in all ages of all societies,” he said.
Justice Nath referred to Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita to affirm the importance of duties and said that the concept of duties has deep roots in Indian civilization where the society is based on ‘dharma’.
Even at the international level, conventions affirm that everyone has duties to the community and developed countries prioritize duties over individual rights, he said.
While recalling his experience as Chief Justice of the High Court of Gujarat during the pandemic, Justice Nath said that the courts try to protect people’s basic rights while asking them to uphold their basic duties.
“What I mean is that for the exercise of fundamental rights, citizens can go to the courts, but for the exercise of fundamental duties, there can be no application under the law “It has to be self-inculcated, self-understood and implemented. I would say that you have to fulfill duties first before you expect rights to be fulfilled,” he said.
In his address, Judge Nath also recalled the contribution of Judge HR Khanna to the protection of the constitutional provisions of the right to life and liberty during the state of emergency and said that “the state of emergency has was one of the most fateful events in our nation’s history when human rights were trampled on the altar of despotism.
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