New Delhi: Wading into the raging row on intolerance, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Sunday said it is a "political issue" and that there is no need to fear till the judiciary is "independent" and the rule of law prevails.
"Yeh siyasi pahlu hain (this is a political issue). We have a rule of law. So long as rule of law is there, so long as there is an independent judiciary and so long as courts are upholding the rights and obligations, I do not think anyone has to fear for anything," the CJI said in an informal interaction with journalists here.
"I am heading the institution which upholds the rule of law and the rights of every citizens will be protected... I think, we are capable of protecting the rights of all sections of people. My institution is capable of upholding the rights of citizens," Justice Thakur said.
The CJI said the issue of intolerance is a matter of "perception" and "Siyasi log iska kaise upyog karten hain, main kuch nahi kehna chahunga (I do not want to comment anything as to how politicians use this).
He said, "India is a big country, we should not be afraid of anything. These are all matters of perception. There is nothing to fear till the judiciary is independent."
"But, we are committed to uphold the rule of law and protect right of all citizens of the society and people from all creeds and religions. There is no fear to any section of society," Justice Thakur said.
Observing that certain rights are available even to non- citizens, including terrorists, he said they are the beneficiaries of the rule of law and can be tried only in conformity of law and "cannot be hanged" without due process.
"In so far as we are concerned, we have no such impediments. We have no such bias and we have no such reluctance. We can protect the rights of all citizens," he said while specifically answering questions on the recent trends and the issue of intolerance.
Making it clear that he was not referring to any particular incident, the CJI said this country has been home to all religions and even those who were persecuted in other countries have "thrived" here.
The Chief Justice said "people persecuted in other societies, have come here and thrived. We have Parsis and their contributions are immense. We have legal luminaries and industrialists. We have people upholding rule of law like F S Nariman, Nani Palkhivala and you know their contributions."