Fireside Chat with Justice Dr DY Chandrachud, HE Dr Danilo Türk, Former President of Slovenia, Dr Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor at the University of Geneva to begin at 630.

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Fireside chat commences. We will be tweeting the event live. Follow this thread.
Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud taking questions from moderator.

DY Chandrachud J. asked about dissent in democracy and his dissenting judgment in Romila Thapar case.
On individual dissent, Justice DY Chandrachud says it should not be viewed as hindrance to democracy.
Indian Supreme Court is a polyvocal court sitting in different benches.

It is different from American Supreme Court in that Indian Supreme Court is not just a Constitutional court but also a final court of appeal: Justice DY Chandrachud.
If we look at the nature of dissents which we have had in India, those are case which affect Constitutional democracy in India: Justice Chandrachud says.
Unlike civil law tradition where all judges speak with one voice, in common law the core of judging is that it is an expression of yourself (the judge): Justice DY Chandrachud.
If you ask me what I have learnt in the last 20 years, it (dissent) is a form of self-expression for what he/ she considers to be a just society for the future: Justice Chandrachud.
When a judge dissents, he is giving expression to some fundamental values of the Constitution which are embodied in his heart: Justice Chandrachud.
If you don't have judicial dissents, judges craft would not be true to its own conscience: Justice Chandrachud.
Moderator Diana Philip, Senior Advisor - Govt Relations Dell poses next question to former Slovenian President, Dr. Danilo Turk.
Philip asks Dr. Turk on how to achieve greater understanding among different cultures and acceptance of diversity.
Dr. Turk responds to Justice Chandrachud's comment on difference between Common Law and civil law system.

He says dissenting opinions are "really very important in the process of interpretation of Constitution".
On different cultures Dr Turk says:

"Cross- culture is a complex matter and that includes law as well. Civilisations are many cultures are many and the question is how can such complexity be handled"
One has to remove some illusions - like for example that quantity of communication helps. It does not.

Because understanding of different cultures is basically an ethical question. It relates to ethics of every individual and community: Dr. Turk.
The key element of that ethical base of intercultural communication is respect. Respect is essential in terms of self-respect and respect of other: Dr. Turk.
Respect again is difficult quality to attain. It is not something which comes naturally. It is an ethical requirement which among other things requires law: Dr. Turk.
Moderator Mathili Parikh, who is counsel at Bombay High Court poses next question to Professor Laurence Boisson, Professor at University of Geneva.
Do you see a shift in role of international courts, especially ICJ in redefining contours of democratic governance including upholding human right and environmental protection?
ICJ is dealing more and more with issues of democratic governance. It has touched upon self-determination, racial discrimination, genocide, death penalty. It has told states there are requirements under international law which should implemented at domestic level: Prof Laurence.
Same goes for environmental law. Like domestic courts, it is now telling states that Environmental Impact Assessment should be respected: Prof. Laurence.
ICJ is now increasingly being asked to deal with issues which have impact at domestic level: Prof. Laurence.
Diana Philip to Dr. Turk: Do you see role of women growing in the fields like global politics and fields relating to peace and security?
Clearly the answer is yes. This is the historic trajectory. Women are gaining importance, they are more and more involved in decision making in political issues including issues relating to peace and security: Dr. Turk.
They are not yet fully equal in terms of numerical strength but I think the tendency is clearly there and it is historical: Dr. Turk.
Dr. Turk narrates his own experience of his mother's family was sent to labour camp in Germany during World War II and her education was interrupted.

" As a result she insisted her 2 children, my brother and me have to study. I understood little by little how important that was"
Parikh to Dr Laurence: The world of arbitration is called "pale, stale and male". How do you see gender diversity in arbitration growing?
I am optimistic but it is a slow process. Men have to make an effort and open the doors of the club. Women also have responsibility. Men and women in law firms have to play role: Prof Laurence.
It is a cultural issue too. There are cultural and racial hurdles. You have to put this in a cultural context where you have to deal with these issues. I am not so sure that all our societies are ready for that and we have to fight: Dr. Laurence.
It is not just a question of having women somewhere. It is also a question of having diversity: Professor Laurence.
Diana Philip to Justice Chandrachud: There was a vitriolic reaction to the Sabarimala judgment. Could you comment on striking the right balance between societal beliefs and religious customs to reflect notions of gender equality?
One of the unwritten rules is judges should not talk about their own judgments bit you are inviting me to breach the same: Justice Chandrachud.
Dr Turk and Prof Laurence spoke about importance of having women in positions of empowerment and authority.

My icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg was asked how many women would be sufficient in US SC.

She said 9. She said she will be satisfied when all 9 are women: Justice Chandrachud
That is my take as well on empowerment of women: Justice Chandrachud.
Justice Chandrachud explains the reasons behind restrictions on entry of menstruating women into Sabarimala temple.
The reason was that the deity is considered to be celibate and presence of women would affect the celibate nature of deity. That is the belief and we respect that at human beings and judges.

But that has nothing to do with the Constitutional question: Justice Chandrachud.
We struck that down saying even a custom is subject to Constitutional values and rights and there is nothing in religion which is private: Justice Chandrachud.
Religion essentially has a position in the public space of the nation. So we said even a religious custom is amenable to Constitutional control: Justice Chandrachud.
India has a long strong history of temple entry movements. Not merely women as in this case, Dalits were also excluded from temples and a part of Constitutional movement for freedoms was not just a movement for political freedom: Justice Chandrachud.
In India, you cannot understand Constitution by construing it merely as as a document for the transfer of political power from a colonial regime to a home grown regime. It was also a movement for transformation of society: Justice Chandrachud
Our Constitution reflects this deep seated aspiration for transformation in Indian society: Justice Chandrachud.
I have criticised the essential practice test used by Indian Supreme Court as per which the court decide what is a practice which is essential to religion so that it can be upheld: Justice Chandrachud.
I have suggested we must have a different test which is the anti-exclusion principle which means that even if a practice is essential to a religion, if it perpetrates exclusion of a certain class of society, then it should be amenable to Constitutional standards: Chandrachud.
Interestingly there was a very beautifully written dissent in Sabarimala case by my colleague Justice Indu Malhotra: Justice Chandrachud.
There is a perception that because you are woman judge you must necessarily take a particular view point. I think that is wrong. It not the question of having women judges but of having diversity: Justice Chandrachud.
We both agree that court has jurisdiction to scrutinise essential religious practices. But she said courts should ban only oppressive religious practices and not every religious practice: Justice Chandrachud.
Our aspiration for gender justice is not just confined to religious sphere. Recently I delivered a judgment in March to open up Army and Navy for women: Justice DY Chandrachud.
Interestingly, govt in that case told the court that our Russian warships don't have toilet facilities for women and so women cannot be allowed.

We said 'sorry that is not Constitutionally acceptable and cant be a ground to deny women place in armed forces: Justice Chandrachud
Women are coming out of law schools and joining district judiciary in large numbers. I would aspire what Justice Ginsberg said that we need to have more women on positions of power and authority: Justice Chandrachud.
There is nothing in the religious sphere which is private: Justice DY Chandrachud on Sabarimala judgment at Harvard Law event

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