Member of National Human Rights Commission Justice Cyriac Joseph extended his support to JNU Students who had protested against the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, reports The New Indian Express.
Inaugurating a seminar organised by the Kerala Law Academy on ‘Democracy, Tolerance and Human Rights’ he stated that the students' opposition towards capital punishment could not be called "anti-national”.
The Former Supreme Court Judge reportedly stated
“Andhyarujina (former Solicitor General of India) had called it (Afsal Guru's hanging) an execution most foul. The same thing was said by Ram Jethmalani (former Union Law Minister). They were not called anti-national. If they can say that, the students can also say (the same),"
The Hindu reported Justice Cyriac Joseph’s speech where he also said that
“A person cannot be seen as national or patriotic merely by wearing a particular dress, holding the national flag or chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai,’ even while going against the Indian constitutional values and principles. Prohibiting dissent or denying freedom of speech and expression or freedom of religion is against constitutional values, ideas and principles. Those acting against constitutional values and goals are anti-national and unpatriotic,”
He added that “Democratic values in the Constitution could only be protected through the practice of tolerance as observed in the Bijoe Emmanuel Case (National Anthem case) and tolerance in part of the fundamental human right to dignity”.
Senior Journalist M.G. Radhakrishnan, Open Magazine Editor N.P. Ullekh and College principal Lekshmi P. Nair were also present for the event