Amnesty International India executive director Aakar Patel tells Salik Ahmad that our society lags behind the Constitution’s standards in ensuring democratic rights, and it’s high time we caught up. Excerpts from the interview:
Given the rights we enjoy, how progressive are we as a society?
We are far less progressive than our Constitution. The laws we wrote for ourselves, seven decades ago, have run far ahead of where we are as a nation. Our popular or even parliamentary debate lags behind the laws. That makes us fairly unusual. We are outliers, with a liberal and progressive Constitution, but an orthodox and conservative polity.
Is our Constitution sufficiently progressive?
If we were to remove specific laws that are retrogressive or unconstitutional—Section 377 of the IPC was one of them—we have a Constitution with everything classically needed to run a liberal and open polity. We are fine there; where we are not fine is in the...