Public intellectuals have “a duty to expose the lies of the State”, Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud said Saturday morning, stressing that in a democratic country it is important to hold governments responsible and guard against the spread of falsehoods and false narratives.
Delivering the Justice MC Chagla Memorial Lecture, Justice Chandrachud’s speech was titled ‘Speaking Truth to Power: Citizens and the Law”, and he cautioned against over-reliance on the government to provide the social, political, economic, cultural and, in the current context, medical truths; he highlighted manipulation of COVID-19 data as an example.
“One cannot rely only on the State for truth. Totalitarian governments are known for their constant reliance on falsehoods to consolidate power… we see there is an increasing trend among countries to manipulate COVID-19 data,” Justice Chandrachud said.
“The phenomenon of fake news is on the rise. The WHO (World Health Organization) recognized this during the COVID pandemic… calling it ‘infodemic’. Human beings have a tendency to get attracted to sensational news… which are often based on falsehoods,” he explained.
Justice Chandrachud also spoke about a “post-truth” world, in which “there is a contest between ‘our truth’ vs ‘your truth’, and a tendency to ignore a ‘truth’ that is not in alignment with one’s perception”.