By Manju Gupta
The Kesavananda Bharati Case: The Untold Story of Struggle for Supremacy by Supreme Court and Parliament, TR Andhyarujina, Universal Law Publishing Co., Pp 150, Rs 295
One of the greatest constitutional cases was decided on April 24, 1973 when the Supreme Court introduced in the Constitutional Law of India the axiom that Parliament cannot by an amendment of the Constitution alter the basic structure of the Constitution.
The Kesavanand Bharati case was the culmination of a struggle for supremacy over the power to amend the Constitution between Parliament and Government of the day on the one hand and the Supreme Court of India on the other.
This book discloses for the first time the background in which the Kesavananda case was decided by 13 judges of the Supreme Court and the political overtones of the case. It reveals that prior to the hearing of the case, the government attempted to influence the Court by appointing judges who it expected would decide in its favour. The book also discloses the preconceived views of some of the judges on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution, the internal conflicts and factions among the judges and the charged atmosphere of tension and conflict in court up to the last day of the delivery of their individual judgements. It reveals the unseemly wrangles between judges and counsel to exclude Justice Beg from the Bench after days of hearings on his hospitalisation, which if carried out, would have tilted the balance of judgment against the Parliament and the government.
More importantly, it reveals the stratagem of Chief Justice Sikri on the day of the delivery of judgement on April 24, 1973 by which he formulated that “Article 368 does not enable Parliaments to alter the basic structure or framework of the Constitution.” It was formulated on a paper hurriedly prepared by him without consultation with the judges and passed on for signatures of the judges on the bench. It was signed by nine out of 13 judges in court with four other judges refusing to subscribe to it in protest. The propositions in the paper are considered the ratio of the case and treat as established law. This is narrated in detail.
The book says that towards the end of the hearing in the case, the government came to know of the opinions of the Chief Justice and three seniormost judges who were “against conceding unlimited power of amendment to Parliament” and was in possession of some of the draft judgements prior to their delivery on April 24, 1973. With the knowledge that CJ Sikri and three seniormost judges were deciding against it, the government decided to supersede them even before the official delivery of the judgements on April 24, on the retirement of CJ Sikri the next day or April 25, 1973 and appointed Justice AN Ray as the next Chief Justice, who it was known to the government would decide in its favour.
This book considers the basic structure of the Constitution as expounded in the crucial judgement of Justice HR Khanna in the Kesavananda case which tilted the scales against Parliament/government.
The book also highlights the abortive attempt of Chief Justice AN Ray, who was totally against the so-called “view of the majority” in the case to review the Kesavananda judgement by another bench of 13 judges, two years after the judgement was delivered in the Kesavananda case. For two days, the review was heard after which the bench was suddenly dissolved by the Chief Justice. This gave support to the basic structure.
Finally the book considers the present application of the basic structure theory in recent cases and the judicial power acquired by the Indian judiciary as a result of the limitations put by itself on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution.
This is a very subject specific book and will interest basically lawyers, judges, academicians, historians and law students.
(Universal Law Publishing Co Pvt Ltd, C-FF-1A Dilkhush Industrial Estate, Near Azadpur Metro Station, G.T. Karnal Road, Delhi – 110 033.)
Exposing the roots of terror
By Manju Gupta
The Caliphate’s Soldiers: The Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s Long War, Wilson John, Amaryllis, Pp 295 (HB)
Since the 1990s, several terrorist groups have sprung up in Pakistan but the most notorious and daring is the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), which launched the most heinous attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. This notorious outfit is enjoying the Pakistan state support. Though many countries in the world promote the LeT as just another local South Asian terrorist group, whose aims and ambitions are restricted to Kashmir, this detached study by Wilson John highlights the larger aspirations and substantiates its roots through a close reading of the group’s copious literature, of its leader’s speeches and other items in the public record.
The book traverses a large swath, varying from the LeT’s history to its virulent ideology, to its organisation, resource mobilisation ad operations, beginning from the time of its founder leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
Its target includes besides India, the Southeast Asian countries in the Indian Ocean, across the Pacific, to the US and “ultimately Pakistan itself”, says the author. The LeT condemns the democratic system as a useless practice, rather as a menace, which they want to fight and replace with Islam.
The author, who works for Observer Research Foundation as a part of the think-tank, focuses essentially on a few basic issues: the ideology of LeT, its strategic alliance with the army, its deep anchorage in the security system, its immense power to influence public opinion and events in South Asia and the funding which is responsible for its existence and its growing strength in Pakistan and abroad.
A close scrutiny of LeT – which this volume attempts to make – reveals a clandestine, but extensive and collusive network of terror, duplicity and religious extremism that runs through the corridors of power and politics in Pakistan. As a million-dollar terror organisation with deep links in Pakistan’s military and political leadership, LeT works at multiple levels to further its strategic interest. These objectives are expected to be achieved through a twin-pronged approach – by adopting a dual path of mission to preaching (dawa) and military (jihad), “while dawa was reserved for Pakistan, jihad led for long targeted external states like India and Afghanistan.” The states have, since 9/11 in particular, expanded to include the US and its allies, and Israel. Inside Pakistan, on its dawa mission, the LeT acts primarily as a proselytising group, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam, much on the lines of its Wahabi patrons in Saudi Arabia and UAE. This partnership is reflected in the “enormous amount of petro-dollars that flow from these countries to madrasas and mosques in Pakistan, particularly those run by the LeT in Punjab.”
This is a highly readable book.
(Amaryllis, J-39, Ground Floor, Jor Bagh Lane, New Delhi – 110003; www.amaryllis.co.in)
A retake on Monk who sold his Ferrari
By Manju Gupta
The Secret Letters of the Monk who sold His Ferrari, Rohit Sharma, Jaico Books, Pp 224, Rs 250.00
This is a powerful and moving fable that will resonate with readers for years to come because of the now-famous character of Julian Mantle who falls ill and who cannot go himself on a pilgrimage. He sends his nephew on an international adventure to retrieve Julian’s mementoes and secret letters – writings that reflect what he has learned over many years about living a remarkable life; a collection that may become his legacy.
Jonathan Landry is a man in trouble. After a bizarre encounter with his lost cousin Julian Mantle – a former high-powered courtroom lawyer who suddenly vanishes into the Himalayas – Jonathan is compelled to travel across the planet to collect the life-saving letters and talismans that carry the extraordinary secrets that Julian had discovered.
On a remarkable journey that includes visits to the sensual tango halls of Buenos ires, the haunting catacombs of Paris, the gleaming towns of Shanghai and the breathtakingly beautiful Taj Mahal in India. It is here that he spends three days with his wife Anisha and son Adam, before departing from India to meet Julian who tells him to keep the talismans and the letters.
This offers him transformation lessons for happiness and true success and shows how to live an authentic and meaningful life.
(Jaico Publishing House, A-2 Jash Chambers, 7-A Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai-400 001; www.jaicobooks.com)