“The allegation against RSS of anti-minority is a baseless propaganda. I have realised, according to RSS, whatever religion you belong to you should be an absolute patriot,” writes the eminent jurist
I was born as a Christian and am practising that religion, a regular church going Christian. My advantage is that I have also learnt many things about RSS. I developed admiration towards this organisation being a disciplined core of this country. As early as 1979, I came to know of many plus points of this organisation, when I was posted as Additional District Judge in Kozhikode, Kerala. The Principal District Judge then was AR Sreenivasan who was impeccably honest and his integrity and rectitude and also the judicial aloofness were unparallel. On top of all the discipline he followed in life was noteworthy. On his retirement, I took over his position as District Judge. Immediately after his retirement, he joined RSS. We used to converse with each other on many matters. Those occasions gave me the advantage of jettisoning many prejudices including the prejudice towards RSS. The smearing propaganda about RSS made by vested interests was eliminated from my mind. Eventually, I became an admirer of RSS.
When objectivity is applied to the smearing propaganda that RSS was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi it appeared to me to be unjust and uncharitable. I learned more about it. Of course, the mere fact that the assassin of Gandhiji happened to be a member of that organisation once upon a time cannot make a disciplined organisation responsible for the murder. I went through the judgment of Justice Khosla on Mahatma Gandhi assassination; the learned judge of Punjab, had completely exonerated RSS as having anything to do with Gandhiji’s assassination. Can the entire Sikh community be responsible for Mrs Gandhi’s assassination? So I believe, the smearing campaign must end in this country.
I had an opportunity to travel with KS Sudarshanji, the former Sarsanghchalak of RSS, from Chennai to my hometown. His scholarship and insistence on simple living were amazing to me. I realised that simple living and high thinking are the hallmarks of the members of this unique organisation. They exchange Christmas cards quoting from a gospel of the Bible and a precept from Bhagavad Gita. That acquaintance gave me an opportunity to learn more about RSS.
The best test I had in my life about this organisation was during the dark months of Emergency when Smt Indira Gandhi suspended some of the vital provisions of the Constitution. The nation was then veritably put under a dictatorship. Then the whole country was benumbed before the whip swished by Mrs Gandhi, the only nonpolitical organisation that worked fearlessly in the subterranean sector was RSS. The result was that the great country Bharat could get liberated from the pangs of dictatorship without total collapse of the nation. We owe very much to RSS for sacrificing many lives and many pleasures of life for the purpose of regaining what our leaders gained for this country, mainly the Fundamental Rights.
In Article 19 of the Constitution, there is a catalogue of freedoms listed for Indian people. But, every such freedom is restricted to the security of the nation. In Constitution, we are very insistent that priority should be given to the security of the nation because we have to live in the state. I find many instances of official activities, governmental and political, where security is given less prominence than vote bank. I am really disturbed. That is a matter on which the country should stand unanimous and uniform with strident voice and declare that we will not tolerate.
The allegation against RSS of anti-minority is a baseless propaganda. I have realised, according to RSS, whatever religion you belong to you should be an absolute patriot. Whichever faith you follow, their only insistence is that you should not have extra-territorial loyalties. I also realise, no one is entitled to tell somebody else that his religion is better than the other’s religion and therefore, he may abandon his religion to join the other. The multiplicity of religions is the gift of God to mankind since all religions have got weaknesses also. So different benefits are conferred on one religion to make all religions when put together to become beneficial to mankind. Besides, a country with composite culture as in India any particular religion’s faith is immaterial, your commitment and your patriotism should be given uppermost priority.
I have a different concept of ‘minoritysm’. On many platforms, I received more brickbats than flowers on this aspect. Who is a minority in this country? Minority is discernible from Article 29 of the Constitution where any section of India can be a minority. It can be based on culture, script and language. Any section which suffers from any disadvantage, could be a minority provided they are numerically less. Faith-wise, minority is recognised only in Article 30 and that is only for one limited purpose—for running educational institutions without being overrun by the steamroller majority. If a person is able to read Article 29 first, as a student of Constitution, it does not envisage minority based on religion or faith. I was a member of 11 Judges bench of Supreme Court which first heard the TMA Pai case. The point of view emerged among the majority of the judges at that time was that the
education envisaged in Article 30 should only be secular education, not professional education. Unfortunately, our bench could not complete the hearing and so the judgment could not be delivered. Many years after my retirement another bench was formed with 11 judges and the final verdict came that education in Article 30 is at any level. Fali S Nariman, in his autobiography, has observed that he regrets having advanced an argument in support of the proposition now upheld by the SC.
In a secular republic, religion should not be one’s identity. Being an Indian should be the identity. TVR Shenoy congratulated Dr Zakir Hussian when he became the President saying that it was the victory for secularism. Dr Hussain said: “Secularism will be achieved only when you do not know my religion.” Another issue which RSS is always blamed for is Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The ideals envisioned by the architects of our Constitution are yet to be realised, mainly owing to the inability in enacting the UCC. The delay in bringing in the UCC is an insult to the founding fathers of the Constitution.
The writer is Retd Judge, Supreme Court of India and a
Padma Bhushan awardee