April 8, 2007

The Magnificent Constitution of India

Prime Minister Hyde, addressing a conference of the chief ministers and the chief justices of India, has cautioned the judiciary of overreaching across its boundary, and trespass into the territory of the legislature. The message is quite obvious, coming in the wake of the fiascoes that the UPA government has suffered at the hands of the only beacon of hope in the Indian government today, the judiciary. The Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court verdicts on the OBC quota diktat, the judicial review of the Ninth Schedule, and the the minority status for the Muslims in the State of Uttar Pradesh, seem to have ruffled not just a few feathers among the politicians of India, who have run amuck with its constitution in the recent months.

PM Hyde warned the honorable justices in the audience,

The dividing line between judicial activism and judicial overreach is a thin one...A takeover of the functions of another organ may, at times, become a case of overreach.

Lest anyone should mistakenly think that he was addressing only a conference of the chief justices, he advised the audience, in a vein similar to that of Yudhishtra's utterance of the word kunjara — an elephant, when Asvathama — Drona's son, was not killed [Asvathama Hatha Kunjara],

All organs, including the judiciary, must ensure that the dividing lines between them are not breached. This makes for a harmonious functioning...

To give his speech the appropriate loftiness due to it, Dr. Jekyll added,

The three wings have well defined roles and functions under our constitution. However, all the wings have a common goal - which is the fulfilment of the hopes of the founding fathers of our republic and as spelt out so clearly in our magnificent constitution.

Of course, Dr. Jekyll, we all know too well how the government of India is committed to the fulfilment of the hopes of its founding fathers, for example,

Article 44 — Uniform civil code for the citizens.- The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Article 45 — Provision for free and compulsory education for children.-The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. [emphasis mine]

Not to forget, how with a stroke of pen from the executive headed by none other than Dr. Jekyll's mentor, the nation was transformed into a Socialist Republic!

There are, in all, 93 amendments to the Constitution of India, over the last 56 years. That's an average of about 2 amendments per year, passed by the legislature, not counting the amendments to the Preamble and the Directive Principles, and the executive orders and the "restatement of the exceptions and modifications" in the appendices. Most of these are not mere window dressings either. The 93rd Amendment of Article 15 of the Constitution is very specific, essentially trashing the intent of the article in amendment, while destroying the spirit of Article 19 in the process:

Amendment of article 15.-In article 15 of the Constitution, after clause (4), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:- "(5) Nothing in this article or in sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 shall prevent the State from making any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30."

Now, who is breaching the thin line dividing the legislature and the judiciary, both sworn to uphold the magnificent Constitution of India?

  1. Rational Fool,

    "How dare you question a man of integrity, sincerity, who moreover, is The Architect of India's Economic Reforms!"

    or, how about,

    "We should accept reality. He is the least bad option. Who do you want as PM, Laloo?"

  2. Oh yes, the way these guys muck around with the constitution when they have a majority and then talk about the sanctity of our magnificent constitution and the grand vision of its authors when it suits them - they make me sick.
    And yes, it is disgusting to see the way they rally round on issues like caste based reservations and concessions for minorities salivating at the vote bank and conveniently keep quiet when it comes to issues like universal free education.
    But I think the judiciary is more active in the recent past than in first fifty years after independence.


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