CJI DY Chandrachud, the 50th Chief Justice of India (CJI), presently finds himself in the eye of a storm. Lately, Justice Chandrachud has become the target for unrefined discourses across social media sites. Online campaigns through institutionalised troll armies and digital media ‘influencers’ are having a field day in their pursuit to impugn the revered Chief Justice of India.
Popularly reckoned as the “Judge who dissents,” Justice Chandrachud has, on numerous occasions, utilised ‘Judicial Activism’ to differ from his colleagues in the apex court on many landmark judgements. He is a proponent of liberal principles, and his pursuit of a hypothetically egalitarian society has often brought him at cross ends with right-winged conservative values held dear by the BJP and its supporters.
Let us delve into the matter and deduce how subtle judicial reproofs from a learned dignitary have stirred up the right-wing faction of our country and their allied supporters.
How the self-proclaimed spokespersons of “Nationalism” are trolling the Nation’s top judicial dignitary:
Upon carrying out comprehensive research after collaborations with data analysts from the University of Michigan, Newslaundry (digital news and fact-checking media) discovered that between the 1st of January and the 20th of April 2023, a colossal 7,53,848 tweets got directed against the CJI. Out of these, 1,16,669 tweets were from original posts, and 268 were facsimiles of the original ones.
Certain hashtags got used specifically to target the CJI on matters that had no nexus with either him or his verdicts.
- #NotMyCJI: got used 1,747 times on Twitter;
- #UndemocraticSupremeCourt: featured 366 times;
- #GenderBiasedLaws: featured 349 times;
- #JudiciaryMustApologise: made it across the internet 256 times.
It was interesting to note the organised pattern of behaviour behind these posts. When the analysts screened further, the source of the troll accounts bared an uncanny resemblance with the posts from BJP-leaning digital influencers.
- Abhit Iyer-Mitra, a Right-winger who distinguishes himself as a Defense Economist and Security Analyst, in one of his posts, called the Chief Justice of India a “caricature” and a “violator of the Office Secret Acts (OSA).” He even demanded punishment for Justice Chandrachud. (Brought the Chief Justice under the Gavel!)
- Radharaman Das, a flag bearer of Hindutva ideology and infamous for inciteful and communal tweets, claimed that the CJI was a “five-year-old girl,” and his criticism of the CJI could not extend beyond the paradigms of misogyny and sexism.
- Ram Prasad (another digital ‘influencer’) went all guns blazing in his attempt to vilify the CJI’s stature by calling him a “clown” and a “narcissist.”
We chose to name these few owing to their ‘blue-tick’ authentication and the frequency of their involvement as the ‘valorous commanders’ of the troll armies.
On what basis is the CJI DY Chandrachud getting targeted?
The troll armies use certain repeated allegations against the CJI to throw tantrums over his judgement. Coincidentally, these are the same issues that get uttered by the Prime Ministers in his electoral rallies:
- Nepotism: Justice DY Chandrachud is the son of the former and the longest-serving CJI of India, Justice Yashvant Vishnu Chandrachud. While they peddle their narrative under the camouflage of nepotism, these trolls carefully evade Justice DY Chandrachud’s prestigious accomplishment of a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University.
- Supreme Court Collegium System: Ever since the Modi Government came to power, it has been trying to squash the Supreme Court Collegium System of Judicial appointment by meddling in the judge-appointing process. Despite it being a clear violation of Article 50 of the Indian Constitution (which annotates the separation of the Judiciary from the Executive), the BJP is dedicating much effort to infiltrating the office of the Supreme Court.
- International Links: Since Justice DY Chandradhud has been a laurel of Harvard University and owing to his support of liberal global values, the right-wingers call him a threat to ‘Indian values.’ Using the claims of Rajiv Malhotra, a US Based influencer (ignore his international setting…), they try to illustrate how “India is under attack from left-leaning elites!”
On other occasions, the CJI got labelled as “anti-Hindu” and even a “woke-feminist” when his liberal virtues clashed with Right-wing conservatism. Even on matters with no remote nexus with Justice Chandrachud, the troll army used filthy language and imagery to target him under #NotMyCJI.
Who is DY Chandrachud, and why do some consider him the greatest CJI of India?
Dr DY Chandrachud, born on the 11th of November 1959 (age 63), is the son of the former CJI YV Chandrachud and a classical musician Prabha Chandrachud.
He studied at Cathedral and John Cannon School in Mumbai, and St. Columba’s School, Delhi. He pursued Maths and Economics at St. Stephen’s Delhi and law from the faculty of law at Delhi University.
He completed his master’s and doctorate from the prestigious Harvard University, where, owing to his academic excellence, he got bestowed with the revered Inlaks Scholarship. Wielding such ostentatious achievements was not easy in that era, yet this man kept widening the horizons of his learning.
He started his law career for a law firm named Sullivan and Cromwell. After which his career soared:
- In 1998, he became a senior advocate at the Bombay High Court;
- In 1999, he became the Additional Solicitor General of India;
- In 2000, he became a judge of the Bombay High Court;
- In 2013, he became the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court;
- In 2016, he became a judge of the Supreme Court of India;
- He became a part of the prestigious collegium in 2021;
- In 2022, he became the Executive Chairman of the National Legal Service Authority (NSLA);
- In October 2022, he became the 50th Chief Justice of India, an office graced by his father forty-four years before him.
During his illustrious judicial career, DY Chandrachud gave a gamut of groundbreaking judgements:
- In 2018, he was fundamental in scrapping section 377 of the Indian Penal Code by decriminalising homosexuality under Article 21 (Right to privacy) of the Indian Constitution.
- Again in 2018, he ruled in favour of allowing women to enter the premises of Sabarimala temple to safeguard women’s fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution.
- In the Hadiya Case of 2018, he maintained that no court had the entitlement to annul the marriage of ‘two consenting adults.’
- In the Aadhar Case, Justice DY Chandrachud was the only judge to rule against the judgement (4 by 1) validating the centre’s compulsion to register oneself under an Aadhar card. He expressed concerns regarding the breach of privacy and maintained that human beings must not get reduced to a “twelve-digit number.”
- In the Swapnil Tripathi Case, DY Chandrachud agreed to the proposal to allow the “live-streaming” of the court events for the public.
- In February 2021, DY Chandrachud gave a massive verdict by ratifying the “permanent postings demand” of female officers serving in the Army and the Navy.
- In September 2022, he ruled in favour of decriminalising adultery.
Apart from these, he had ruled in favour of allowing passive euthanasia (mercy-killing) and numerous other judgements that are deemed controversial by many pundits of law in India.
DY Chandrachud’s unfettering faith in India’s pluralistic constitution and the aspects of decentralisation of power have troubled those in pursuit of establishing authoritarianism. Hence, the non-conservatives and the neo-liberals see the CJI as a guardian of pluralistic values and a messiah of tolerance in the era of state majoritarianism.
In Modi’s India, very few dignitaries get endowed by their designation to dissent against the state. Justice Chandrachud glimmers as the only beacon of hope in the trenches of ‘echo chambers,’ and he advocates a distinctive alternative to the generalising tendencies of the Center.
In times when India stands on precarious lines of communal hate-mongering and her children dwell on the dilemma of adopting a state-enforced cultural orthodoxy, CJI DY Chandrachud keeps tossing pills that are bitter for many to swallow. Thus, even advocates of “Vedic Tarkashashtra” are retorting to attack Justice Chandrachud’s personal life by calling him names instead of countering the points of his judgement.
We maintain that none should be above criticism as per the freedom of speech and expression (Article 19). But derogatory trolls and abusive language directed towards such a coveted personality can not be an acceptable way of expressing dissent. It is high time we learnt the proper method and causes behind the necessity to “dissent” to invigorate our democracy, or else we will keep fissuring into the void of echo chambers.