By Dr. M. Iqbal Siddiqui

In order to defend our fundamental rights, such as Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, Right to Agitate and the like, we have to keep sharp vigil upon the Legislature, Executive as well as Judiciary and Media. If a citizen is aware and educated and comes forward to exercise his or her rights, I am assured that our Constitution will survive by the time,” said Dr. Rajeev Gupta, former Professor of Sociology at the University of Rajasthan. He was speaking at a symposium on Our Constitution, Current Status and Our Responsibilities, organised by the Rajasthan chapter of Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) at Khadi Gramodyog Sanstha Sangh Conference Hall, Jaipur on November 26.

“The biggest challenge before our Constitution is that, a democratically elected government is trying to change the social democratic state into a majoritarian dictatorship. Strange enough is that, they are presenting myths as scientific truths and linking the same with history.

“Another challenge is introduction of sectarian nationalism, which they call ‘cultural nationalism’. They have rendered almost every constitutional institution ineffective and fully destroyed some of them. They are indoctrinating things that may fulfil their patron organisation RSS’s agenda. We are being apprehended by the market which is their economic agenda and thus our constitution and its values are imperilled,” he said.

“We must work hard to save our constitution from market fundamentalism, individualism, majoritarianism and the lies which are being propagated as gospel truth. We will have to oust the political parties as well as individuals who are keen on destroying our constitutional institutions”, he added.

Mr. Javed Khan, Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, elaborated the salient features of our Constitution. He said that our Constitution is very strong as well as flexible. It is strong because no government can go against its basic structure, at the same time it is flexible as Article 368 empowers the Parliament to amend its laws when needed, without disturbing its basic structure. He said that the Constitution is ‘quasi-federal’ in nature, hence according to Article 246, right to make laws has been divided between the centre and the states, whereas some subjects are common to both. The Parliament has to keep the Directive Principles under consideration while framing laws. It is another thing that the governments have failed to abide by the basic values of the Constitution.

He cited Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s speech on 25th November 1949, when he said, “However good a constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However, bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution.”

Mr. Sawai Singh, state president, Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity (FDCA) stated that the ‘king’ sitting at the centre, thinks that whatever he speaks will become law, just like the emperors of old times whose words were taken as the law of the land. He said that the fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution are being denied. He said that recently, the social activists, journalists and even lawyers were booked for finding facts of the Tripura violence against the minorities. Nowadays such blind ‘faithfuls’ have evolved who will not allow you to speak the truth and if you are still keen on speaking the truth, they will pounce upon you, he said. People are afraid to open their mouths against the tyranny they are facing. He was of the opinion that there is a nexus between the communal forces and the corporates in the country.

He said that it is an obligation upon every citizen to carry the constitutional values among the masses, our duty is to assure the people that there is no need to panic, constitution is still there to protect them. He said that ‘the rulers’ of this country should know that democracy cannot be mortgaged. He called the public to stand up and uphold the Constitutional values.

In his opening speech, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqui, executive member APCR said, “We resolved to adopt values like democracy, secularism, inclusive policies and non-communal attitude while winning our freedom. But unfortunately, the people who always opposed democracy and its values, captured the power by means of democracy itself and they began to uproot the same democracy as soon as they attained power. They weakened and demolished the constitutional institutions like the planning commission, election commission, CBI, ED, etc. and even they transferred judges at their will. He said that the ruling party is accomplishing agenda of its patron organisation and heading towards making the constitution ineffective. He emphasised on the need to be aware and prepare the masses to protect the constitution. “We have to be vigilant about the amendments being made, educate the people about constitutional values and be ready for launching a movement if necessary.”

Mr. Syed Saadat Ali, Advocate, State President APCR, said in his presidential remarks that defending the constitution is the duty of every citizen, the constitution should be taught from the primary classes in every school. He said that the APCR is striving to make people aware of their rights as well as duties and common laws they need to know as citizens, we are trying to help the victims of unlawful detention, those who are unable to afford the fees of a lawyer, those who have been implicated in false charges and the victims of atrocities either from the administration or individuals. He assured that the organisation will always strive to uphold and propagate the constitutional values.

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