Majoritarianism antithesis of democracy: Justice Deepak Gupta
New Delhi: While delivering a lecture on Democracy and Dissent at an event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Justice Deepak Gupta on Monday spoke about the importance of dissent in a democracy and criticised the trend to brand those who raise questions at the establishment as "anti-nationals".
Justice Gupta said that while the rule of the majority is integral to democracy, majoritarianism is an antithesis of democracy.
He said, "In a country like India, where democracy is based on the 'first past the post system', more often than not, those in power will not represent the majority of the voting electorate, let alone the majority of people."
"Let us assume they got 51% votes of population, does that mean that the other 49% people should keep silent for next five years and say nothing? Does than mean that those 49% have no voice for the five years...that they must accept whatever is done and not protest against it?"
"So, in a democracy, a government once elected, it is the government for the 100%, and not the government for the 51% or whatever percentage voted for them. Every citizen, whether he voted for you or not voted for you, has a right to participate in the democratic process", the judge said.
He added that dissent must be encouraged. "Without questioning and challenging old norms, new thoughts will not come. If nobody challenges the accepted norms, that society will become a stagnant society," he said.
"Therefore, right to dissent and right to question is not only an inherent part of democracy, it is also the inherent part of right to life itself. If a country has to grow holistically, not only in terms of economic development and military might or anything, civil rights of the citizens must be protected," he added.