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Constitutional thugs out to "save" the statute

Constitutional thugs out to "save" the statute

Arabinda Ghose
The Organiser
April 23, 2000
Title: Constitutional thugs out to "save" the statute
Author: Arabinda Ghose
Publication: The Organiser
Date: April 23, 2000

The farcical agitation by the Congress Party on April 14, the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, to prevent the "saffronisation" of the Constitution of India, by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government can best be compared with the demand by prisoners sentenced to long prison terms for committing heinous crimes for safeguarding their "legitimate" rights inside the jails.

The Congress Party now led by a lady of Italian origin wants the people of the country to believe that they are the upholders of democracy and secularism and the NDA action in appointing a Commission to review the working of the Constitution is a blatant attempt to "saffronise" it. How this can be done, even if it is intended, the Congress scrupulously avoids mentioning, because even a high school boy or girl knows that it is impossible, given the numbers in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to amend Article of the Constitution without the co-operation of at least the largest party. in the Opposition-the Indian National Congress.

It is relevant at this stage to recall how during the Emergency in 1975-77, the Congress Party had butchered the Constitution in order to perpetuate the rule of one single family in the country and making the Prime Minister of the day, immune from any prosecution in any court for any offence. Had these amendments remained in the Statute Book, not only could P.V. Narasimha Rao escape prosecution in the MPs bribery case which is still on, but also by extension of this logic, neither Laloo Prasad Yadav nor his wife, the dummy Chief Minister of Bihar, could be hauled up by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

As for Congressmen and Congresswomen's love for democracy and commitment to Parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model, here is what A.R.Z. Antulay, Chief Minister of Maharashtra (in 1981-82) had to say about the Constitution on January 19, 1977 (at that time hr, was the General Secretary of the Congress) in London during a speech under the aupsices of the Indo-British Association:

"Ours is not a truly Parliamentary Democracy, as our Parliament does not enjoy sovereignty.... It need not be over emphasised that the will of Parliament in India is subject to the will of the judges, and wisdom of the judges who, not being politicians but practising lawyers prior to their appointment, are, in the very nature of the scheme not equipped with the requisite experience of matters of State and running of the affairs of the Nation during normalcy as also during the periods of national crisis".

After Indira Gandhi came back to power on January 14, 1980, the cry for amending the Constitution was, still shrill. Apart from Antulay, Vasant Sathe too. had pleaded for setting up the Presidential system. This is what Antulay said on December 7, 1980 while moving the economic resolution at the AICC session in New Delhi

".Parliamentary democracy can never, in my humble submission, Madam, bring in the progress as we desire. ...We have got to switch on to the system that is going, to give you, as the people of India desire, a free hand, free for five years to do as they wish you to do. Between the Constitution as designed and the Constitution that is desired, to be done, there is a vast difference...

Shri Antulay had favoured periodic review of the Constitution too. In an interview with Fatma R. Zakaria in the Times of India, published on November 16, 1980, he had said : "Our founding fathers were keen that a review of our present Constitution should be made periodically, they are conscious of the limitations under which the present Constitution was being enacted".

He had further said, quoting veteran Mahavir Tyagi, that those who framed the Constitution "were technically not the representatives of India- "de facto we might claim to be, but de jure we are nor'.

Shri Antulay also told Fatma Zakaria that "Even Shri Nehru assured the members (of the Constituent Assembly) that no Constitution could ever be static; it had to be dynamic and must be changed according to the requirements of the people. I am firmly of the opinion after studying the various Constitutions of the world and the functioning of our own Constitution in the last 30 years that it is high time we discerded this so-called Parliamentary system and adopted the Presidential form of Government..."

(These quotations are from the booklet "Democracy: parliamentary or Presidential? Published by the Government of Maharashtra in February 1981 at the time Shri Antulay was the Chief Minister).

But the real Congress thuggery with the Constitution took place during the Emergency when the 42nd Amendment was enacted by the Indira Gandhi Government, the proceedings in the Lok Sabha being faithfully chronicled by Professor P. G. Mavlankar, who was the Member elected from Ahmedabad in a by-election in October 1972. The quotes in the following paragraphs are mostly from his book "No Sir".

Prof. Mavlankar notes that the Indira Gandhi government was responsible for bringing in 19 amendments to the Constitution between 1971 and 1976-from the 24th to the 42nd. The 39th Amendment in 1975 provided for a new forum for resolving disputes relating to the election of the President, the vice-president and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The 40th Amendment gave immunity to the Prime Minister from criminal proceedings till then enjoyed by the President and the Governors and all of them had been made immune from court proceedings during their term of office.

The 39th-Amendment provided for incorporation of 37 central and State laws in the Ninth Schedule so that they became immune from court proceedings. But the most interesting part of this amendment was the Mischievous Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 1975, which validated the election of Indira Gandhi to the Lok Sabha after the Allahabad High Court had declared her election as null and void on June 12, 1975.

One of the most draconian piece of legislation ever passed by Parliament was the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution during the Emergency. Its provisions were so obnoxious that the Janata Party Government which came to power in 1977 had taken special pains to remove (through the 44th Amendment) many of these measures. Among them was the amendment to Article 74 which made it obligatory for the President to accept the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers (Was it because President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was hesitant to sign on the dotted line declaring Emergency on June 26?).

Yet another was regarding assistance to States by the deployment of armed forces or other forces of the Union (Article 257A). It empowered the Centre to send any armed force or other force of the Union for dealing with any grave situation of law and order in any State. Such force shall act in accordance with the direction of the Central Government and shall not be subject to the control of the State Government said the amendment. (This has been reversed by the 44th amendment and even in Kashmir today, the armed forces of the Union have to obtain the permission of the State Government before undertaking operations against the terrorists).

Article 368 of the Constitution too was amended taking all disputes regarding amendments. to the Constitution beyond the purview of the Courts.

With such records to its credit, only a shameless party can speak about 'saffronisation' of the Constitution. But then who said that Congressmen and Congresswomen have been endowed with the quality of feeling ashamed'?

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