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CJI rights sermon

New Delhi, Dec. 23: Human rights cannot be expected to give way to security concerns, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has said.

“It is often argued that human rights must give way to… internal security since they unduly hinder effective executive action to counter the forces that cause internal disturbances. This argument is untenable in our rights-based system,” Balakrishnan said while delivering a lecture to Intelligence Bureau officials yesterday.

The Chief Justice said human rights violations by security agencies alienate people, “who then fall prey to those working against national interests”.

He sounded a note of caution against hastily bringing in special anti-terror or internal security laws to deal with the threat of terrorism.

“Through such hasty reactions to internal strife, which immediately remove individual human rights, the state becomes an unsuspecting contributor to discord within the nation,” Balakrishnan said.

This often leaves the judiciary to deal with human rights issues, but at a much later stage when the damage may already have been done, he said.

The Chief Justice wondered why special laws like the now-repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act were needed. “It is also important to prevent communalisation or politicisation of such laws.”

Upholding rule of law and human rights in the face of an internal security crisis is a test of the inner strength and moral fabric of the nation and its people, Balakrishnan said.

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