Addressing the nation in the latest edition of his monthly radio broadcast ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 26 , while congratulating countrymen on the occasion of Constitution Day, said it was unfortunate that the first amendment of the Constitution ‘pertained to curtailing’ the freedom of speech and expression.
“In keeping with the changing times, circumstances and requirements of the country, previous governments (at the Centre) carried out amendments (to the Constitution) at different times. However, it is our misfortune that the first amendment of the Constitution pertained to curtailing the freedom of speech and expression,” PM Modi said during the 107th edition of his monthly radio address on November 26.
“However, through the 44th amendment, the wrongs committed during the Emergency (during the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi) were duly rectified,” PM Modi noted during his address. The first amendment was passed in 1951 by the Provisional Parliament, members of which had just finished drafting the Constitution as part of the mandate of the Constituent Assembly.
As part of the first amendment, changes were made to articles 15, 19, 85, 87, 174, 176, 341, 342, 372 and 376 of the Constitution. It incorporated the Ninth Schedule to protect land reforms and other laws, after judicial review, while also inserting articles 31, 31A and 31B.
Significantly, under the provisions of Article 31 of the Constitution, laws enunciated in the Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged in a court of law on the ground of violating the fundamental rights of citizens.
Labelling November 26 as an “extremely significant” day, PM Modi said citizens can draw resolve and inspiration to build a ‘Vikshit Bharat’ (developed India) from the citizens’ charter and fundamental duties that are laid down in the Constitution.
“All of us are aware that the Constitution took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to come into being. The oldest member of the Constituent Assembly was Shri Sachidananda Sinha-Ji. The draft of our Constitution was made after undertaking a close and careful study of the Constitution of over 60 countries and holding long deliberations. After reading the draft, before it was eventually adopted, over 2,000 amendments were re-incorporated into the Constitution. Since it came into force in 1950 to this day, a total of 106 amendments have been made to the Constitution,” PM Modi said.
He also lauded Hansa Mehta, one of only 15 women members of the Constituent Assembly, which sat to draft the Constitution, for her fierce advocacy of equal rights for women.
“It’s again inspiring that of the members of the Constituent Assembly who were nominated, 15 were women. One such member was Hansa Mehta-Ji, who raised her voice for the rights and justice for women. I remember that in 2015, when we were celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar (considered as the father of the Constitution), a thought crossed my mind to observe the November 26 as Constitution Day. And since then, every year, we have been celebrating this day as Constitution Day,” PM Modi added.
He said the ‘Nari Shakti Vandanam Adhiniyam’, or the Women’s Reservation Act, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament and became a law following Presidential assent, will boost and facilitate the accomplishment of the country’s resolve to build a developed ‘Bharat’.
“Back in the day, India was one of the few countries whose Constitution enabled voting Rights for women. It gives me immense satisfaction that following in the footsteps of the visionary framers of our Constitution, the Parliament passed the ‘Nari Shakti Vandanam Adhiniyam’. It serves as an illustration of the Sankalp Shakti (strength of resolve) of our democracy. The Women’s Reservation Act will also aid our efforts to build a developed Bharat,” PM Modi said.
Commemorating the victims on the 15th anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, he added, “We can never forget 26th of November. It was on this very day that the country came under the dastardliest terror attack. The terrorists (from Pakistan) spelt fear not just in Mumbai but across the country. However, it was our combined fortitude and resilience that made us rise again from the ordeal inflicted on us by the terrorists and crush terror with full strength and resolve.”
(with inputs from ANI)