Skip to main content

Modi govt "interfering" in judiciary, is "destroying" autonomy of statutory bodies

Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
On November 26, the country observes yet another Constitution Day, the day on which in 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted and gave to the people of India a landmark Constitution. The Constitution of India besides being sacrosanct to every citizen of the country is the bulwark of fundamental rights and directive principles, which are a prerequisite for any healthy democracy.
The Preamble, with its emphasis on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity; and its commitment to India being and remaining a “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic spells out the vision and the intrinsic character of the Constitution. 
The Constitution of India with its minute details is undoubtedly a unique one. Thanks to the women and men of the Constituent Assembly, most of the people of India, take genuine pride in our forward-looking and all-embracing Constitution.
Sadly, in the recent past, several efforts are being made to tamper with the Constitution, to negate its essence and even to delete core dimensions like the words secular and socialism which are deeply interwoven into the pluralistic fabric of Indian society. 
The current BJP/RSS combine, including some of their ministers and leading functionaries have gone on record saying that once they have the pre-requisite numbers in Parliament, they will have no qualms of conscience to change fundamentals of the Constitution like that of secularism and equal rights for all.
There have been lofty proclamations for the establishment of a Hindu State by 2020; the annihilation of the minorities particularly the Muslims and Christians. There is talk of a Common Civil Code and that the rights of the minorities have to be abolished.
The waters are constantly being tested. As part of a well-planned strategy, they blow hot and blow cold with their patently anti-national words and deeds, thus defocusing from the serious and pressing problems that grip the ordinary citizen of the country. On November 23, the "Ahmedabad Mirror" in a front-page exclusive exposed how the BJP Government of Gujarat, was demanding that through an online form minority students appearing for the Stds X and XII had first to identify themselves if they were Muslim or not. The hackles of several have been raised in the State, but it is left to be seen if the Government will actually withdraw this anti-Constitutional form.
This is not the first that that they have indulged in such anti-Constitutional and discriminatory acts. Already in 1999, when the then BJP Government in Gujarat, tried to survey the minority communities there, Justice MR Calla of the Gujarat High Court, in a Common Oral Order dated February 16, 1999 of Special Civil Application 1000 of 1999 stated:
"In the opinion of this Court gone are the days of laissez-faire when there used to be criminal tribes or the days of regimentation when there used to be law relating to criminal tribes. Once this country has adopted the Constitution, we have to abide by the same, which is the fountain source of law. No part of the Constitution permits any sort of classification of criminals on any communal basis. 
"A criminal is a criminal, whether he is a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh, or a Christian. A criminal has no caste or community and, therefore, if any survey or census is to be made or any information is sought to be gathered with regard to the survey or census or the move to seek information may be, as a part of routine exercise, cannot be based on a communal footing.
"Here the messages clearly show that they have been issued with reference to the communities such as Christians or Muslims. In any case, such exercise cannot proceed with orientation based on a creed or community. May it be a routine exercise for any purpose including the purpose of collecting information on the items mentioned in the fax messages in question, there cannot be a religion or community wise classification to identify the criminals, from amongst the members of the Indian society."

The survey was immediately withdrawn.
Last October, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling to allow young women entry into the Sabrimala Temple, the BJP national president Amit Shah not merely questioned the judgement but in fact defended the practice of keeping women out. The UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has gone on a city name-changing spree with clear prejudicial overtones against the Muslims of the country. The recent comments by the Prime Minister, the CM of UP and those some others on Ayodhya, and on the Supreme Court's position on the Babri Masjid, should warrant a 'suo moto’.
The judiciary has the fundamental responsibility to safeguard the Constitution. There have certainly been some landmark judgements. However, last January, four senior most judges of the Supreme Court (including Justice Ranjan Gogoi, currently the Chief Justice of India) held an unprecedented Press Conference asserting that unless things are set in order and that the Government stops interfering in the judiciary, democracy will not survive in the country!
The way the Government procrastinated on the appointment of Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court (because he did not give a favourable judgement to the BJP as the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court), is a textbook example.
The Government has not only tried to interfere in the judiciary, but has spared no effort to destroy the independence and the autonomous functioning of other Constitutional and statutory bodies. The Election Commission of India is today very different from what it once was. 
Hate speeches by the BJP candidates and fraudulent voting practices are just ignored. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has become a caged parrot apparently because of the inclination of the CBI Director to open investigations into the dubious Rafale fighter jet deal and the alleged corruption by the Ambanis.
The Reserve Banking of India (RBI) is browbeaten to bend backwards to cater to the whims and fancies of a Government that has sent the country into an economic spiral downwards! Media, the fourth pillar of a vibrant democracy, has been made impotent. Only a handful of those in the electronic and print media will dare take on the Government today. Other important bodies, like the Information Commission, have been made toothless and filled only with their pliable henchmen!
The visionary Dr BR Ambedkar, the father of our Constituent Assembly was perhaps prophetic when he said, “Will history repeat itself?" It is this thought, which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realisation of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds.
Will Indians place the country above their creed or above their country? I do not know, but this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we all must resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood! We must heed his words!
Every citizen of India has a moral obligation to defend all that is sacred in the Constitution. We cannot sit in our comfort zones and allow the values enshrined in our Constitution to be destroyed by these anti-Constitutional elements! “We, the People of India", must rise as one people and realise that it is our Constitution. On Constitution Day, we all need to pledge that a sure way, by which we can protect our Constitution, is by showing these elements the door in the National Elections 2019!
---
*Indian human rights activist. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.