As thousands of people gather at Ramlila Maidan to support activist Anna Hazare's demand for a strong Lokpal, the Supreme Court has advocated active participation of citizens in affairs of the country, saying democracy cannot work unless people go out and share their views.
Describing democracy as “a government by the people via open discussion”, a bench headed by justice Mukundkam Sharma quoted a 1989 SC judgment: “The democratic form of government itself demands its citizens an active and intelligent participation in the affairs of the community.”
The bench rejected UP government’s decision not to allow screening of Prakash Jha’s film ‘Aarakshan’, saying in any democratic society there were bound to be divergent views and it was for the state government concerned to maintain law and order situation.
“Public discussion with people’s participation is a basic feature and a rational process of democracy, which distinguishes it from other forms of government. Democracy can neither work nor prosper unless people their views,” it said, quoting from the SC verdict in S Rangarajan vs P Jagjivan Ram and Another.
“Public discussion on issues relating to administration has positive value,” the bench said. “In a democracy it is not necessary that everyone should sing the same song.”
The court rejected the Mayawati Government's contention that reservation was a delicate issue, which could have an adverse effect on law and order situation. The order came on August 19, the day Hazare reached Ramlila Maidan.
“We are of the considered opinion that reservation is also one of the social issues and in a vibrant democracy like ours, public discussions and debate on social issues are required.
“Such discussions on social issues bring in awareness, which is required for effective working of the democracy...
“Freedom of expression is the rule and it is generally taken for granted,” the bench, which also included justice AR Dave, said.