30 May 2023 3:41 PM GMT
The State does not owe loyalty to any one religion and the Constitution requires that the religious majority in the country shouldn’t enjoy any preferential treatment, Supreme Court Judge Justice BV Nagarathna underscored on Tuesday. “Secularism in the sense that it meant under the Indian Constitution is that the State does not owe loyalty to any one religion. The State equally respects...
The State does not owe loyalty to any one religion and the Constitution requires that the religious majority in the country shouldn’t enjoy any preferential treatment, Supreme Court Judge Justice BV Nagarathna underscored on Tuesday.
“Secularism in the sense that it meant under the Indian Constitution is that the State does not owe loyalty to any one religion. The State equally respects all religions. The vision of the founding fathers was that a nation transcending all diversities of religion, caste and creed; to bring about a new social order based on justice, social, economic and political aspects. The Constitution has sought to establish a secular order under which the religious majority of the population does not enjoy any preferential treatment at hands of the State and religious rights of the minorities are upheld.”
The Judge was speaking at the launch of a Book titled “Constitutional Ideals” organised by DAKSH.
She also stated that unlike in the west, in India, secularism was never born between the conflict between the State and the Church. “It was perhaps, rooted in India’s own past history and culture, and was very much a response to her pluralism”.
The essence of fundamental duties is to achieve “ideal citizenship”. But unfortunately, lack of integrity and possession of ill-gotten wealth has become the order of the day, Justice BV Nagarathna stated while opining that disproportionate assets are barely considered as black marks in today’s times.
“The essence of fundamental duties is to achieve ideal citizenship. It’s not just the relationship between the citizen and the state and duties of a citizen to the state, it also encompasses duties of one citizen to another. For this, we need to cherish and practise values of the Indian Constitution. Among the constitutional values, integrity is the highest. But alas! With the passing of every year, integrity is losing its value in our total value system. Bribery, corruption and flaunting of ill-gotten wealth has become the order of the day and has been entrenched in Indian society. Disproportionate assets possessed by certain persons, especially by those in public life are hardly thought of as blackmarks in our Indian society.”
Justice Nagarathna further lamented that in today's scenario, the word “affordability” is losing its meaning. Back in the day, people used think twice about spending on luxuries or material comforts but the situation has completely changed now, she said.
“While the country has grown economically, and there's greater generation of income among the people, what is of great worry is disproportionate assets. That is income from other than known sources. We may progress as a nation, economically and socially, claim ourselves to be good citizens, have a great Constitution. But if we lack integrity, what is it at the end?”
She also expressed her surprise as to why the family members of bribe-accepting public servants never objected to it. “I wonder why there's no protest from the members of the family of public servants who are indulging it bribery and corruption!”
This being the case, it is high time that citizens pledge to refrain from indulging in such activities no matter the attractions on the other side are, she said.
“The time has now come to take a pledge against graft and also to practise integrity as a way of life. I would appeal to everyone to shun benefits obtained from ill-gotten money. If there's a determination made by everyone to refuse the benefits of graft, the need for such filthy lucre would automatically reduce, if not disappear. For that there's a determination required to live within the known sources of income, whatever may be the attractions of consumerism and materialism.”
Speaking on ‘liberty’, Justice Nagarathna opined that during the initial days, the Supreme Court did not move with the spirit of Chapter III and this changed after a few decades. "They were more cautious and circumspect. The judicial balance was not really tilted completely in favour of the spirit behind Chapter III. But in the subsequent decades, the Supreme Court and the courts in India have interpreted Chapter III in such a way that it has expanded, particularly Article 14 and 21 to include rights of the highest amplitude such as right to bodily integrity, right to die with dignity, right to reproductive choice, right to self-identification of gender, right to privacy”.
Terming Chapter III as an open cauldron, the judge said that it is a space were various rights can be thrown into. "It's not saturated; it's not full. There's a lot of space for the Courts to ensure that many more rights are recognised and for that we require, not only enlightened citizenry but also an enlightened var to assist the courts to merely recognize these rights."
According to the Judge, out of all the four ideals envisaged in the Preamble, fraternity is what has been least understood. “Fraternity will help deepen democratic values despite our religious, linguistic and other differences”, the Judge said before concluding her address.
The event ended with a discussion based on the newly-launched book by Senior Advocate and Co-founder of Daksh, Harish Narasappa and Associate Professor at NLSIU, Bangalore, Aparna Chandra.