S.N. SAHU | 27 NOVEMBER, 2019
When Authorities Fail to Preserve and Protect the Constitution, Let People Do It
Ominous developments have shattered our faith in the constitutional scheme of government
Seventy years ago on November 26 the Constituent Assembly formally adopted the Constitution of India.
It is tragic that the Constitution is being trampled upon with impunity. The glaring instances are manifested in the prime minister’s decision to end President’s rule in Maharashtra.
In Parliament’s unilaterally revoking the special status under which Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Union of India.
In the continued suppression of the rights of people, and the continued detention of political leaders, activists and intellectuals of our country on fabricated grounds.
These ominous developments have shattered our faith in the constitutional scheme of government.
The gross infractions committed by the central government repeatedly violate the “constitutional morality” which Dr Ambedkar asked Indians to cultivate in a comprehensive manner. This is a cause of worry and danger to the whole country.
Let us recall the wise words of former President the late Shri K.R.Narayanan, who on the golden jubilee of our Republic voiced concern by saying, “Let us examine if the Constitution has failed us, or we have failed the Constitution.”
He said so when the first NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee was toying with the idea of reviewing the Constitution. President Narayanan’s sharp public interrogation led Shri Vajpayee to change his decision, and instead of reviewing the Constitution the government decided to review its working.
It is tragic that the occupants of high constitutional office, be it the incumbent President of India or the Governors of States, who have sworn oaths to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, are not able to live up to the oath’s letter or spirit.
As a result the Constitution is being violated grossly.
Dr Ambedkar cautioned that if constitutional methods were sidelined to realise the objectives of the Constitution, there would be a “grammar of anarchy”. Some kind of grammar of anarchy and acrimony has indeed seized the minds of those at the helm of affairs.
In his speech after resigning from the Cabinet in 1951 Dr Ambedkar said, “To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of Hindu Society untouched, and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems, is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap. This is the significance I attached to the Hindu Code.”
It is tragic that the Prime Minister, who delivered an impressive speech on Constitution Day in Parliament’s Central Hall, openly took a stand against the Supreme Court judgement allowing women of menstruating age to enter the Sabarimala temple, by citing the ground that faith reigns supreme over law and the Constitution.
By giving primacy to faith over law and the Constitution, the Prime Minister was violating constitutional morality.
Similarly, the demand for banning cow slaughter by passing a legislation in the Parliament is a negation of constitutional morality, as it would involve using the instrumentality of law to impose the faith of certain Indians on other Indians, who may profess different faiths or none at all.
In fact even an ardent Sanatani Hindu like Mahatma Gandhi said that the law should not be used to ban cow slaughter, as it would mean imposing a faith associated with the protection of cows upon others who have different faiths.
Gandhi also said that imposing the idea of cow protection, which he believed was integral to the Hindu faith, on through the law would mean compelling everyone to convert to Hinduism.
Such thoughts need to be invoked in defence of constitutional morality.
If at all India is kept together as a nation it is because of the Constitution. Measures against the Constitution therefore negate the unity of India.
Let us as citizens preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, which is facing its worst danger in the 70 years since it took effect.