RISING COMMUNAL POLARISATION – A THREAT TO INDIA’S FUTURE:Justice A K Ganguly

Thank you and good evening Mr. Dubey, Dr. Faizan Mustafa and the rest of the speakers. I will try to be very brief, within ten minutes I have to conclude. Now, the point is that this communal polarisation is doing great harm to India, I entirely agree and I first say and let me make it clear that this communal polarisation is a weapon of exploitation. Let us understand it first.

When India was made a secular country, it was part of the vision of the framers to make India a secular country because they wanted to create equal citizenship, equal society. This decision to make India a secular country was a part of the decision to make India a democratic country and to make India a welfare country. I don’t agree with the suggestion, of Dr. Faizan Mustafa, that let India become a Hindu Rashtra. I strongly object to this suggestion because if India becomes a Hindu Rashtra, which is the design of some of the persons who are in power now, then India will lose its identity and India will lose its democratic credentials. What is secularism in Indian context? Our secularism is not the secularism we think of in the American constitution as a clear separation between the church and the state. We are on the other hand fostering the idea of secularism for having equal respect for all religions and the constitution has given power to the state to usher in social reforms in order to get rid of religious superstitions. My time is short at disposal, but you know in all cases of entry into temple especially Hindu temple, the Supreme Court has till now, till the last judgment in the Kerala Sabarimala case have allowed the entry contrary to the principles of religious autonomy. This has been done on the principle of social reform.

So, this religious bigotry which has been sounded in three judgments of Supreme Court, which have (been) soundly criticised in my book ‘Hindu Law and the Constitution’, first is the Hindutva judgment, second is the Manohar Joshi judgment and the third is the Ismail Farouqui judgment which was also the case relating to the demolition of Babri Masjid. In the first case I have said that Indian ethos is multiple ethos, you cannot equate ‘Indianism’ with Hinduism. If you do that then you will completely rob India of multi-cultural-linguistic diversity which is recognised in the constitution. The next judgment which is given by Justice Verma, the learned judge said the call to build Hindu Rashtra in Maharashtra, making Maharashtra the first Hindu Rashtra was the call given by Manohar Joshi, despicable but it is not a corrupt practice. I wonder how could the learned judge say so. If it’s a despicable thing, what’s the meaning of despicable? that something which cannot be exempted and by saying so he made Manohar Joshi the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, (how can it not be a corrupt practice). The third judgment is even more curious, where the learned judges said that offering Namaz in a mosque is not a part of Islam. How can he say that? On what ground? But, that was what it was said. That was a majority judgment in Ismail Farouqui case and my book has categorically criticised it. When the present judgment came on the Babri Masjid demolition I said it’s a strange judgment because what are you doing? You are giving legitimacy to the demolition of a mosque. It has been established that there was no Hindu shrine under the mosque, there might be some shrine but not a Hindu shrine, and the mosque was standing for 500 years. For muslim its his right under Article 26 to preserve it, to administer it and that right is a fundamental right only subject to public order, morality and heatlh. Nobody can say that maintaining a mosque is opposed to public law, morality and health. You will be surprised to know that the reason judgment of the constitution bench of the supreme court, there is no discussion on Article 26. Its an atrocious judgment. I have spoken against it in various places. It’s a judgment which you will find very difficult to swallow.

So, the secularism which has been provided is what is known as ameliorative secularism. It is for the benefit to the society, benefit of the country. It is coming out of the spirit of India. You cannot demand a Hindu Rashtra and say it is India, because India is a secular country even before the constitution. Secularism was inherent in India. If you see the majority, the Hindus they have the highest regard, they cannot be Hindu unless they are tolerant. They have the highest regard for the faith of every other person around them. Muslims, there’s no question of muslims leaving the country, they are very much part of the country as a hindu. As I have said repeatedly, this method of polarisation is a weapon of oppression. This is the same way the British divided and misruled us. It’s the same way how the present rulers are trying to divide India and trying to give us a sense of false security and false happiness.

When I find that a person, for eating a particular flesh, is beaten up and sometimes beaten to death. Its hardly a redress for a person for marrying out of love, affection and respect for each other. Where does the religion come in. You see, normally poor people don’t have the luxury of religion and the religious divide is mostly giving the benefit to the rich and affluent. We will always find throughout history that the clergy has been a close associate of the monarchy. The same thing here but you have to change and that was changed under the constitution. We cannot reverse it. After 70 years of independence, of the maturing of democracy we cannot reverse it, we should not reverse it. We should resist all attempts to reverse it. As a judge has taken the oath to abide by, to uphold the constitution every individual, every citizen has to take that oath. To uphold the constitution means the secular constitution, the socialist constitution. Secularism cannot exist if there is no socialism and democracy. These three concepts are intertwined. One cannot exist without the other. Therefore, you want to reverse the secular tendencies you are also going to injure the other two features of the constitution. We have to uphold our constitution, we have to uphold our secular credentials, we have to uphold our democratic credentials to live in a socialist country. That’s my view, I think I have concluded on this note, and let us take this pledge on the eve of republic day. Thank you for giving a chance for sharing my views. Thank you.

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