By Charti Lal Goel
AS per its preamble the Constitution of India stands for a secular State. The State has no official religion. Secularism pervades its provision, which gives full opportunity to all persons to profess, practise and propagate the religion of their choice. It also ensures freedom for one who has no religion and it scrupulously restrains the State from making discrimination on grounds of religion. Dr Radhakrishnan, former President of India, in his book Recovery of Faith (page 184) says: ?We hold that not one religion should be given preferential status.? Prohibition against discrimina-tion on grounds of religion is incorporated in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, as quoted below:
Article 15(1): The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, cast, sex, place of birth or any of them.
16(2): No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion be ineligible for or discriminated against in respect of any employment or office under the State.
If political parties have alliances with Muslim League, which under its constitution has only Muslims as its members then they are called secular. But BJP, which has Muslims as its All India office-bearers, is still termed communal.
It is very strange and also unfortunate that the Constitution of India itself has harmed its sanctity, under its Article 30, making a discriminatory provision on the basis of religion in the name of protection of the interests of minority. Article 30 reads: ?Rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions: (i) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.? Under these Articles certain privileges and special rights have been given to religious minorities to establish and administer their educational institutions. Why these very rights and privileges could not be given to all religions? Heavens would not have fallen if all religions had been treated alike. Followers of all religions want to protect their culture by establishing and administering institutions. I do not think that the framers of the Constitution desired that only the religion of minorities should flourish and that of the majority should be slowly extinguished.
In my opinion this is where the seeds of divide and separatism were sown between different religions in India. Hindus have many ways of worship and are divided into many sects. There are Jains, Buddhists, Radha-soamis, followers of Ramakrishna Paramhansa (Rama Krishan Mission), etc. Due to the special rights and privileges given to religious minorities by the Constitution, a number of Hindu sects have started claiming the status of minority. It has resulted in creating a schism and bad feelings among different sections of Hindus. It should be a cause of concern for every person interested in the unity of the country. This has also given birth to a thinking that if you discriminate in favour of a minority you remain very much secular as per the Constitution.
There is another very illogical and disturbing development in the country with regard to secularism. Rights of every citizen need to be looked after and protected in the country. If some individual or organisation comes forward for the protection of any right or situation concerning the Hindus, then he or it is called communal. But if anything is said in protection of any right or situation pertaining to Muslims then he remains perfectly secular. So much so, that a Muslim defending a hard-core Muslim retains his image of a perfect secularist. If political parties have alliances with Muslim League, which under its constitution has only Muslims as its members, then they are called secular. But BJP, which has Muslims as its All India office-bearers, is still termed communal.
The Human Rights Commission is also very quick in asking for immediate reports (without verifying the facts) when some Muslim terrorists are killed by the police or armed forces in any encounter. But the same Human Rights Commission does not take suo mottu notice if Hindus are killed either in Kashmir or anywhere else. The Human Rights Commission is also not bothered if Muslim women are treated treacherously and cruelly by their husbands, who can renounce them by saying three times ?talaq? for fear of antagonising the Mullah. This shows bias and discrimination all around. If the Shahi Imam issues a fatwa calling upon Muslims to vote in favour of a political party, it is not communal. If sadhu-sanyasis ask for voting for a party which looks after Hindu interests, they are termed ?communal?. If M.F. Husain, the renowned painter, shows disrespect to Hindu gods and goddesses in his paintings, it remains an art; on the other hand, Satanic Verses is banned because some Mullahs objected to the book.
Such a lopsided develop-ment could be possible because of the discrimination as initially laid down in the Constitution under Article 30.
If the country has to take the path of genuine and truthful secularism, there must be an amendment in the Constitution either by deleting the provision of Article 30 or giving the rights and privileges contained therein to people of all other religions as well.
(The writer is a senior Supreme Court advocate, Member, National Intellectual Cell, BJP and former Speaker, Delhi Vidhan Sabha.)