Copyright. All rights reserved. Ram Jethmalani. 2017.
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In an otherwise hated period of emergency of 1976 the glorious attribute of secularism became the basic feature of the Indian Constitution meant to be a great gift to religious minorities which together were a very large size of the population of India.
I have no doubt that it certainly did neutralize their hostility to the evil that the emergency in fact was. It is recognized by a very important nine Judges-decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in S.R. Bommai v. Union of India reported in (1994) 3 SCC 1, that this is now basic non-repealable feature of the Constitution of India. It made every Indian an equal citizen of India no longer to be identical by his religion caste or language.
The above said Supreme Court Judgment contains following passage:
“25. India can rightly be described as the world's most heterogeneous society. It is a country with a rich heritage. Several races have converged in this sub- continent. They brought with them their own cultures, languages, religions and customs. These diversities threw up their own problems but the early leadership showed wisdom and sagacity in tackling them by preaching the philosophy of accommodation and tolerance. This is the message which saints and sufis spread in olden days and which Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of modem times advocated to maintain national unity and integrity. The British policy of divide and rule, aggravated by separate electorates based on religion, had added a new dimension of mixing religion with politics which had to be countered and which could be countered only if the people realised the need for national unity and integrity. It was with the weapons of secularism and non-violence that Mahatma Gandhi fought the battle for independence against the mighty colonial rulers.
………… Gandhiji when in 1946 he wrote in Harijan "I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The State has nothing to do with it. The State will look after your secular welfare, health, communication, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not my religion. That is everybody's personal concern."
It is the duty of every citizen and politician to preserve this Great feature of the Indian polity; it makes India respected in the comity of nations.
India can remain a great nation only with loyal and absolute adherence to this great achievement. I am all appreciation for the majority Judgment which ruled out as unconstitutional the Islamic rule of Triple Talaq. I have great admiration for the depth and extent of their knowledge of constitution and laws of India but I may be pardoned for suggesting that if I was a judge which I never have been all my life. I would have reached the same conclusion in in a short paragraph of a few lines only. Let me share it with my readers. It would read like this:- Every religion has a core and essence but lot of disposable stuff perhaps useful for a time and under different circumstances. As an admirer of the Islam of the Holy Prophet I have often written that essence of Islam is in two lines of the Holy Quran; first: When you walk in search of knowledge you walk in the path of God and the second: the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of a martyr. Triple Talaq is certainly not, this stuff.
Secularism - now a basic feature of our legal system is nothing but religion being subject to the rule of reason. This Triple Talaq is the most unfair insult to the fair sex. It must not disgrace our legal system to please some intolerant fanatics. However, much I do not admire Prime Minister Modi’s policies and character I am in all appreciation of a charming lady being made the Hon’ble Minister of Defence ofr our vast country. She is a conclusive argument for terminating the disgrace of Triple Talaq. Politicians in India must be careful. Secularism is not safe with most BJP leaders though there are many who are intensely secular but they are either afraid to speak up or sacrifice their convictions for temporary political rewards. They need to be woken up by appeals to their somewhat dormant conscience.