Justice Dr M Rama Jois (MP)
It is amazing that Congress and a few other political parties, which in their thought, word and deed whether in election or selection, think of caste or religion consequently communal in their outlook call themselves and give certificate to themselves that they are ‘secular, and blame persons and party like BJP who in thought, word and deed are nationalists and follow the ideal Nation First, are being dubbed as communal as the former have tested that such divisive policy gives them electoral dividends.
In support of the above statement I place before the nation the following indisputable facts:
1. Undisputedly, secularism and equality are the two elements or pillars constituting the basic structure of our Constitution. They are incorporated in Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution. Article 14 declars that state shall not deny equality before law and equal protection of all persons. Thus the Article prohibits the state from making any discrimination and denying equality before the law to all persons by using the expression ‘the state shall not do so. This is the general mandate to the state. However, Article 15 makes the mandate specific, it reads:
“15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.-(l) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.”
These two Articles read with Article 44 which directs the state to enact uniform civil code constitute the foundation of secularism. The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Shahbano case declared that so long as Article 44 is not implemented the Constitution would be a dead letter. The Court said so because Muslim personal law makes flagrant discrimination against women only on the ground of sex, as it enables a Muslim male to take as many as four wives and gives husband the right to divorce all or any of them at his whims and fancy. Nevertheless those who oppose enacting uniform civil code call themselves as secular and those who demand the enacting of uniform civil code in terms of Article 44 are dubbed as communal.
2. Despite the mandate of Article 15 those who enact laws enabling formation of separate university for Muslims which is communal, claim to be secular and those who oppose establishment of universities on communal (religious) grounds are dubbed as anti-secular.
3. The Congress party which in its manifesto makes specific provision for Muslims earmarking separate budget in matters relating to education, scholarships and banking on communal lines, which is opposed to Article 14 and 15 again claim to be secular.
4. A party which declares that our Constitution provide equality for all and discrimination of none on the basis of religion and consider Nation First and Nationalism Supreme are being dubbed as communal.
5. Recently, Congressman who became union minister for minorities, which itself is communal and anti-secular, declared the day he became the minister that there would be five separate universities for Muslims, is also regarded as secular. Fortunately this being Constitutionally impermissible idea was rejected by Thorat Committee. Still attempts are being made by communal elements in Congress to somehow get round the Thorat Committee Recommendation by establishing central universities and reserving substantial number of seats to Muslims therein though that is also Constitutionally impermissible who claim to a secular.
It is appropriate to point out that the first non-Congress government at the centre headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee of BJP stood for genuine secularism as it is deep-rooted in Hinduisim or dharma the two words being synonyms. Atal Behari Vajpayee pointed out that concept of secularism of the West and of Bharat are distinct and separate. He said that in the West secularism arose as a reaction and protest to the domination of the church over political rulers, whereas secularism of Bharat was part of our Rajadharma, the Constitutional law of Bharat from times immemorial and mandated that all should be treated equally as is evidenced by the following verses
;FkklokZf.kHkwrkfu /jk /kj;rslee~A
Just as the mother earth gives equal support to all the living beings, a king [State] should give support to all without any discrimination: [ManuSmriti X – 311]
(Narada Smriti vide Dharmakosha P-870 laid down)
The king (State) should afford protection to compacts of associations of believers of Veda (Naigamas) as also of disbelievers in Veda (Pashandis) and of others in the same manner in which he is under an obligation to protect his fort and territory.
These most ancient provisions, show how, in this land, where the Vedas were regarded as Supreme, the disbelievers in the Vedas were to be respected and protected. Vajpayeeji was of the view that this is the secularism of Bharatiya brand, and obeyed it implicitly. BJP firmly and sincerely believes and follows this. But unfortunately the so-called secularists who always think and act on communal lines and follow divisive politics call themselves secular and dub real secularists as communal and practice what Bharat Ratna C Subramanyam called as political untouchability thus:-
“When the Constitution of India came into force on 26th November 1949, the pernicious social system of untouchability was abolished. Article 17 declared untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law”. Serious action is being taken to eradicate the remnants of untouchability existing in any form wherever they exist. It is no longer a debatable point. While so, another form of untouchability has crept into our polity, namely, “political untouchability”. This is mainly based on the concept of secularism, even though each political party has its own view as to what is to be considered as anti-secular. The parties who claim to be secular consider BJP and its allied organisations as politically untouchable. For a different reason the Left parties consider Indian National Congress as untouchable.
These attitudes of dubbing any party or policy anti-people arise out of what I would call, political fundamentalism. Any party or individual who does not agree with one’s own political or economic ideology is dubbed as anti-secular or anti-people”.
It looks as if each political party leader looks upon others as fools or knaves. It is not surprising that the Nation is going through a period of uncertainty and drifting without a positive direction”. [CS Speaks, pp. 334-335]
As a matter of fact, the ethos of our Nation is secular from times immemorial as pointed out above and it is going to be so in future also. It is an article of faith and an element of the basic structure of our Raja Dharma, the Constitutional Law of ancient Bharat and will be continuing as such for all times to come irrespective of the political leader / party coming to power. Right to happiness of all irrespective of religions region castes, is the ideal of our Nation as is inscribed in the Parliament House in golden letters thus:-
iztklq[sklq[kajkK% iztkuka p fgrsfgre~A
“In the happiness of the people lies the king’s (ruler’s) happiness;
In their welfare, his welfare; whatever in his own interest, the king (ruler) shall not consider as good; but whatever is in the interest of his people, the king (ruler) shall consider as good”. (Kautilya’s Arthasastra, P-39-P42-S).300 B.C)
Therefore, earlier the politically motivated division of the people on the basis of religion is demolished it is better for the unity of the Nation. Therefore a powerful National movement should be launched to put an end to the politically motivated propaganda by some of the parties claiming to be secular, dubbing others who stand for ‘Nationalism’ as non-secular.
Mahatma Gandhi in his Book My Picture of Free India has stated that after Independence in the well governed India by the Constitution there is no scope for classifying some citizens as minority as all of us are the children of the same mother India.
In India, where Vedas were held supreme, as pointed out above disbelievers in Vedas were also directed to be protected in the same manner in which the believers in Vedas were required to be protected, which establishes that under Raja Dharma [ancient Indian Constitutional law] “DHARMA also called as Hinduism HAS BEEN SECULARISM-PAR-EXCELLENCE” and was an element of its basic structure. In other words, just as Rule of Law and arbitrariness are regarded as sworn enemies, in modern law in our ancient law, Raja Dharma and theocracy or fundamentalism were sworn enemies. Just as darkness cannot exist when light exists, fundamentalism cannot exist where DHARMA or Hinduism exists. It is for this reason that our Constitution confers the Fundamental Right to all to practice any religion of their choiceunder Article 25.
“Dharma” is the soul of India and secularism is inseparable part of Dharma. The criticism that followers of Dharma or Hinduism are anti-secular is perverse, as such a person cannot be communal at all. On the other hand, it is a matter of common knowledge discernible from the conduct of those who in every one of their actions, attitudes including elections and selections think only of caste and religion and religious minorities under the garb of Secularism who are communal but they speak from house tops that they are secular and dub real secularists as communal. The earlier they give up such divisive and harmful policy and secular Nationalism prevails the better for the Nation.
(The writer is former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court)