Constitution Day Fundamental Rights and Duties   A Discussion
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Constitution Day Fundamental Rights and Duties A Discussion

October 8, 2019

In the program news analysis, we now bring
you a discussion on Fundamental Rights and Duties. The participants are Dr. Suraj Singh, Constitutional
Expert and Kamar Agha, senior journalist. Constitution day or Samvidhan Divas is celebrated
on November 26th in India to honor B.R. Ambedkar, known as architect of Indian Constitution. On this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly
of India adopted the Constitution of India and it went into effect on 26th January 1950. November 26th was chosen in 2015 by the Prime
Minister Narendra Modi as the Constitution Day to spread the importance of Constitution
and spread the thoughts and ideals of Dr. Ambedkar. Q. Professor Suraj Singh, what do you think
about the significance of this day? Constitution is the fundamental law of the
land. So, having a day designated for celebration
of the adoption of the Constitution was something which was overdue. So the government has done an excellent job
because it will raise the awareness of the people about the fundamental law of our land. Because Constitution defines the basic rights
and basic duties both of citizens as well as the government. So, in Part III of the Constitution, we have
certain fundamental rights which are the basic rights which can be enforced in court of law
like freedom of speech and expression, right to live human dignity, right of equity, right
of freedom of religion. So, all those are enshrined in Part III. In Part IV, there are certain directive principles
which may not be enforced but which are fundamental guidelines for the governance of the country. Gradually through interpretation, the Supreme
Court of India has included those directive principles also as fundamental rights. For example: Right to Education which was
in directive principles but now it has become a Fundamental Right also for up to age of
14. Similarly, right to healthy environment. So, these have also become rights through
interpretation. Now apart from rights Professor Agha, there
are certain Fundamental Duties also. On this day, the preamble of the Constitution
read in all schools. Actually, the government of India, especially
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted promotion of Constitution especially the young people
should understand about the Constitution and they should know about their rights and duties
both of the Constitution. Therefore, main focus at this stage is on
the schools, colleges, universities. Seminars are being organized, quiz competitions,
essay competitions, online / offline on different topics of Constitution are being organized. Lectures are also being organized on this
day. That way you know, it becomes very important
day for the Constitution because India is a democracy and in a democratic setup, government
wants that people should know their rights and duties. Particularly the preamble crystalizes the
very ideals for which freedom struggle was really fought. It has been adopted in the name of “We the
people of India”. So, the sovereignty in the India lies with
the people. Though there are three wings of the government:
Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, but people are supreme. And then the ideas in the preamble itself:
Equality, justice (social economic and political), opportunity, integrity of the nation. And in fact, democratic, secular, republic
which are the fundamental nature. In fact, in 1973 the Supreme Court in the
important case to be heard till today i.e. Kesavananda Bharati case interpreted that
there are certain basic features in the Constitution which cannot be taken away even by the Parliament. So, those are enshrined in the preamble. So, teaching preamble to students in both
schools and colleges is a part of liberal education and every educated person must know
what is the basic philosophy behind our governance. So, it is a part of the good governance also. This is very important. In fact, this stage was earlier called as
‘Law day’ which has now changed into Constitution Day or Samvidhan Divas. In 2015, while celebrating Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 125 birthday, Prime Minister Narendra
Modi announced this year-long celebration and November 26th as the Constitution Day. On this day, Parliament House was also illuminated
and that was a very good gesture on part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM said that the Constitution Day to be
celebrated for greater awareness among the youth and to thank the man behind the Constitution. He said whenever we talk about Constitution,
we remember Baba Saheb Ambedkar and our Constitution has a very special place in our lives. So, these are the good words Prime Minister
has expressed on Baba Saheb as well as the Constitution. Emphasis was laid on the young population
of this country. What do you think Dr. Sigh? These are the very ideals that the young generation
has to follow. See the previous generation fought the struggle
for independence so they were already imbued with all the spirit of freedom, spirit of
fighting for rights. New generation, particularly born after 1991
when the liberal policies took place, many of them are not aware as much as the previous
generation was like what kind of a price for freedom we have to pay etc. So, imbuing the same spirit in them and really
inspiring them that what are the ideals our government is working for was some objective
which needed to be constantly reminded to our young generation. So, to that extent celebrating November 26th
as Constitution Day is something which would be a service to our coming generations. In hierarchy of law, Constitution comes first
then laws made by the Parliament, then laws made by states, then laws made by the administrative
wings of the government and various rules and regulations. So, in hierarchy, Constitution is the basic
fundamental norm. In today’s world, if you say what is our dharma,
what is our fundamental faith, that is the Constitution. When debate was going on in JNU on who is
patriotic, who is not, I said a person who has the faith in the Indian Constitution and
the government created under the Constitution is patriotic and the person who wants to disintegrate
the Constitution or Constitutional institutions is unpatriotic. So, the Constitution today defines as to who
is really true patriot and who is not. In America, people when they become citizens,
they take a faith of allegiance to the Constitution. The first thing they say is: “I will be loyal
and faithful to the Constitution of my country”. Same kind of faith we should start in India
also that when somebody becomes full citizen, that his or her allegiance to the Constitution. Q. Indian Constitution is one of the most
elaborate and one of the most prepared with great considerations, taken all the good things
from different constitutions so as to strengthen the democratic forces. In the Constitution, fundamental rights and
duties become very important prospect of the Indian Constitution. They have prescribed as fundamental. Fundamental rights are basically the state’s
obligation to its citizens and the duties of the citizens towards the state. These two demarcation is very important. What do you think about the fundamental rights? These are the vital elements of the Constitution
and these rights include guarantee to civil rights, civil liberties such as all Indians
can lead their life in peace and harmony, as a citizen of India, these include individual’s
rights such as equality before the law, freedom of speech and expression, religious, cultural
freedom, peaceful assembly, freedom to practice religion. These are elaborate six rights. I don’t think any other Constitution of the
world spelt so clearly as the Constitution of India. We call them the six lamps of light. They are the beacon which Constitution provides
against any abuse of power by the government or any government agency. We as a lawyer both in High court and Supreme
Court, always take protection under Article 226 before the High court and Article 32 in
the case of Supreme Court when there is a violation of any fundamental right. So, these are the very essence why democracy
is preserved. Because it happens that when a person is in
majority, minority rights: whether they are religious, they are linguistic, or even though
wise if they are minority, they are to be protected. Constitution protects that. It says that they have the right to say within
bounds of law. There are reasonable restrictions on these
fundamental rights also. But as long as you are within the bound of
those reasonable restrictions, then you have the full right to express yourself. You have the full right of non-discrimination
of equality. So, these are the pillars on which our Constitution
and democracy is surviving. Other countries particularly our neighbors
don’t have that kind of strong foundation. That’s why the military and other forces takeover. In India, it can’t because the fundamental
rights are very much preserved. Q. In India, the people are quite aware of
their fundamental rights. Especially this scheme of the government and
the way in which they are going to promote further like rights and duties of the people. So, I think it becomes important for everybody
to know what their fundamental rights and what are their duties. Duties are also one of the very important
aspect of the Constitution. You have the fundamental rights but you also
have duties towards the state, towards the Constitution and you have to perform those
duties. What do you think about these duties which
we have? They were introduced very late I think in
1978. During emergency, these duties were included. Idea was they Gandhi ji always used to say:
rights and duties are always interlinked. Without rights, there cannot be much duties. And without duties there cannot be rights. So, both are equally important that something
we do for the nation and something the nation does for us. In duties, particularly one gives respect
for all different point of views. That’s very important duty. Then there’s one about scientific temper which
says that we must have an open mind to learn new things. That’s also part of the duty. Pursuit of excellence is also one of the duties
i.e., that every citizen will make an endeavor to achieve higher level of excellence. If you really look at these duties, these
are very fundamental aspects in any civilized societies. So, in other words, they are making it clear
what is expected of civilized citizens in the name of duties. Q. So if one has to abide by the Constitution,
this is the basic and most fundamental duty he has to respect its ideals, institutions,
the national flag and the national anthem? Absolutely, all these things of our national
respect and self-respect like flag, national institutions, national anthem we must show
respect towards them. That’s very much the part of fundamental duties. Q. One more thing is: we need to uphold and
protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. Yes, in fact at the moment that is the most
important element that integrity of the nation, sovereignty of the nation is not put to threat
by anybody in the name of either freedom of speech or express anything. So, to that extent there are fundamental rights
with reasonable restrictions and overall as it had been said in the preamble, as pointed
by you, Professor Agha that preamble also says that sovereignty and integrity of India
is also one of our fundamental duties to see to it. Q. Mr. Sing, what do you think about the Swachh
Bharat scheme. Should it be included into the part of the
fundamental duties? Absolutely! It should be included as fundamental duty. You have brought some very important point
here, Professor Agha. As we keep on amending Fundamental duties,
various parts of the Constitution, one amendment which is needed in fundamental duties is Swachh
Bharat. In fact, also among other things being equal,
promoting swadesi, make in India also is also a fundamental duty in a sense. Fundamental duty in the sense, it is subject
to other considerations. Yes, Swachh Bharat is definitely a fundamental
duty and should definitely be included along with the other duties. Q. What are the else important aspects you
think should be included in the duties or how to promote these? When we day scientific temper, various kinds
of superstitions which can be harmful like child marriage (of course they are reducing
now but still) or in many cases honor killings, those kinds of things should be discouraged. Anybody who created any kind of a hostile
atmosphere for different communities, that is to be discouraged. It is understood, but there should be more
specific emphasis on this that duty of respect towards religion, other views on those who
differ from you, should be also considered a fundamental duty of every citizen. Because it is India because of its power of
integration, it’s power of respect for all different kinds of views. No other country in the world is as much having
tolerance and respect for different views as India did. That’s its greatness, that’s not its weakness. Q. We have biggest democracy in the world which
is functioning. Partly the credit goes to the vision of the
Constitution makers who could make both rigid and yet very flexible Constitution. Q. I think it was very appropriate on part
of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the Constitution Day on the 125th birth anniversary
of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and besides this day is very much important to spread awareness
among the youth and other sections of the society. I think people would remember it for a longtime. Hon’ble Prime Minister must be lauded for
this kind of a step taken where the Constitution creation is acknowledged and the awareness
about it to be spread among the young generations and others. Thank you very much, Dr. Suraj Singh. You were listening to a discussion on Fundamental
Rights and Duties. The participants are Dr. Suraj Singh, Constitutional
Expert and Kamar Agha, senior journalist.

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