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Power resides with citizens in a true democracy: Jagdeep Dhankhar

Mentioning how the rights which we now consider as universal were not universal all the time, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Justice D.Y. C...

Mentioning how the rights which we now consider as universal were not universal all the time, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Justice D.Y. Chandrachud delivered the 8th Dr L M Singhvi Memorial Lecture hosted by the OP Jindal Global University (JGU) recently, on the theme ‘Universal Adult Franchise: Translating India’s Political Transformation into a Social Transformation’. Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar was the chief guest. Dhankhar also addressed the gathering at the Memorial Lecture and defined that power resides with the citizens in a true democracy through their electoral mandate. The lecture commemorated the life and work of diplomat, jurist, lawyer, and parliamentarian L M Singhvi (1931-2007).

Addressing an august gathering of distinguished guests from the Indian legal and political fraternity at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, Justice Chandrachud said, “In India, we find a historic social system in which power was concentrated in the hands of the upper class of society. The rights which we now consider as universal were not universal all the time. They were denied to the oppressed. This was the norm across the world. Those who did not hold power were subjected to several levels of oppression against this power hegemony. Unfortunately, the exercise of democracy was used to retain power by the few the right to vote was controlled and exercised by only those individuals who had already succeeded in society because of their social power and cultural capital. As a result, the idea of democracy itself was controlled by the elites of society. Voting rights were denied to women and members of the marginalized communities because the elite did not want to share the power with them.”

He added how Indian social leaders, such as Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule, coming from the marginalized communities demanded equal citizenship for the oppressed and started initiatives that could educate the masses about their rights. He spoke about the idea of Universal Adult Franchise (UAF) was deliberated and included in the constitutional discourse, leading to the drafting of India’s constitution, as well as how the idea of Panchayati Raj along with UAF led to the deepening of India’s democracy. Speaking about Dr L M Singhvi, he said, “An astute jurist, a fierce parliamentarian, and a prolific writer, Dr Singhvi was an encyclopedia of knowledge in Indian history and culture. He played an important role in shaping Indian public life through his career as a lawyer as well as a distinguished parliamentarian.”

Jagdeep Dhankhar said, "India is a vibrant democracy with our Parliament becoming increasingly inclusive and diverse after each election. It truly represents the mandate of our citizens. We as a nation are on the rise and this rise is unstoppable. Our strength was clearly demonstrated in our handling of the Covid-19 pandemic especially when compared to other countries. We have developed an ecosystem for effective governance, and it is essential to keep our national interest above all. Power resides with our citizens through their mandate and resolve and this power is reflected through the most scientific mechanisms: legislation! We are proud of the Indian Judiciary which has contributed to protect the rights of our citizens.”

Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University said, “It was my great privilege to have known Dr L.M. Singhvi. He was a distinguished advocate and a leading parliamentarian who worked towards translating India’s political transformation into social transformation.”

Welcoming the distinguished gathering, leading advocate, author and legal luminary and his son, Dr Abhishek M. Singhvi reminisced how his father was a man of ideas and intellectual scholarship and that it took him just a few hours to draft the Constitution Day Charter to commemorate the day the Constitution Day. "He was awarded the rank of a Cabinet Minister to work towards Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas on 9th January, when our Father of the Nation Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned to India to lead the freedom movement. He was also seminal in the process of creating an ombudsman which led to the establishment of the Office of the Lokpal and the Lokayukta."


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