A Bombay High Court judge spoke up on the importance of dissent in educational institutions Tuesday, saying “if the right to dissent is taken away, then you take away the space and opportunity for his (student) fundamental construct”.

The remarks by Justice Gautam Patel came amid widespread student protests in campuses across the country against an amended citizenship law that was passed by Parliament last week.

“Commitment to a plurality of voices and space for dissent is crucial to any educational institution… If you take away that right, I would argue, by an external determination of the student body, you take away the space and opportunity for his (student) fundamental construct,” said Patel.

Justice Patel also said that any government that claims to be a true democracy has nothing to fear from dissent.

Patel dwelled on how the functional — and functioning — autonomy of institutions and statutory bodies is essential to the survival of a liberal civil society and is fundamental to the concept of a democratic republic.

He was speaking at the Vidhi Annual Lecture on the theme ‘Between Scylla and Charybdis: Institutional Autonomy in Democratic Governance’.

” — any government — that claims to be dedicated to the constitution, to democracy, and to liberalism has nothing at all to fear from according a wide functional autonomy to its institutions and their processes. Its future is all but assured. Ideas are bullet-proof,” he said.

Patel’s comment on dissent came soon after Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde said government officers were hesitant in taking decisions as RTI Act was being misused and indicated there could be guidelines framed to regulate the Act.

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