Did the Modi government violate the norms of secularism in the Ayodhya case? Did the Modi government violate the norms of secularism in the Ayodhya case?

Did the Modi government violate the norms of secularism in the Ayodhya case?

Did the Modi government violate the norms of secularism in the Ayodhya case?

India is a secular republic but sometimes the line between religion and state becomes quite blurred. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram temple being built in Ayodhya on 22 January. Many other leaders also participated in this event.

On that day, the central government as well as many state governments had declared a holiday. After this, many people raised the question whether this meant that the Republic of India had involved itself in a religious event.

Here we will try to know what secularism is according to the Constitution and what the courts have said about it.

The Preamble of the Constitution says that India is a secular country. The word secular was added in 1976 through a constitutional amendment during the reign of Indira Gandhi.

Article 25 of the Constitution gives people the freedom to practice and spread religion with some restrictions. Articles 29 and 30 provide protection to minorities.

Explaining this, senior lawyer and expert on constitutional matters, Dr. Rajeev Dhawan says, "Secularism in India has two aspects. The first part says that you cannot discriminate between religions. The second part says that you have to provide security to minorities.

The Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities the right to open their own educational institutions. It also says that the government cannot discriminate against minority institutions while giving aid.

Secularism (India) has two aspects. The first negative part says that you cannot discriminate between religions. The second positive part says that you have to provide protection to minorities.

Dr. Dhawan says, “When we talk about secularism, in India it means that all religions should be given equal importance. We do not follow the principle of strict separation between religion and state.

It is followed in some countries. France, for example, follows a very strict divide, where the use of symbols of all religions in public life is strictly prohibited.

Dr. G. Mohan Gopal, an expert in constitutional law, says, "The answer to what is India's secularism can be worth a book." Even in the debates of the Constituent Assembly, there was very little clarity on this. This ambiguity is also visible in the decisions of the Supreme Court.

He says, “Even the idea of ​​maintaining equal distance from all religions, which is the main emphasis of the courts, is also taken from Brahmanical texts.”

In a decision of the Supreme Court in 1994, Justice JS Verma quoted the principle of 'equality of all religions' from Yajurveda, Atharvaveda and Rigveda and said that secularism means tolerance for all religions.

Many experts say that it is 'strange' that secularism is being defined through religious texts.

Supreme Court's stance on secularism

The Supreme Court has taken many decisions on secularism. However, critics say that there is no single definition of it.

Vijay Kishore Tiwari, who teaches law and secularism at the National University of Juridical Sciences, says, "The Indian version of secularism is different from the Western concept of secularism. Constitutionally it is ambiguous on the question of separation between religion and state.

“The Supreme Court has also not given any definition of secularism which should be followed, which is also good because it does not come within its scope. In the context of India, separation of state and religion is neither completely possible nor necessary. ,

Sanghamitra Padhi is an assistant professor of law and social sciences at Rampo College of New Jersey. She says, "In some cases, the court has taken an aggressive stance on this issue, saying that secularism is a provision of the Indian Constitution which cannot be amended."

"In some other cases, the Supreme Court's accepted definition of secularism is sensitive to the interests of the majority and infringes on the rights of minority communities. In some other cases it gives special rights to minorities.

Four years before the amendment added the word secular, the Supreme Court in 1972 had held that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. This means that no government has the power to snatch it from the people.

The court had said this during the hearing of a petition when a case came before it in which the government's right to amend the Constitution was challenged.

However, in 1974, two Supreme Court judges wrote that they doubted whether the term 'secular state' could be applied to India, because India does not have a strict wall of partition. He wrote, "There are some provisions in the Constitution which prevent our state from becoming secular."

In 1994, in one of the strongest decisions on secularism, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court had upheld the dismissal of the BJP governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh after the demolition of the Babri Mosque.

The assemblies were suspended by imposing President's rule in these states. In its decision, the court said that these state governments supported communal organizations and helped in the demolition of the mosque. The governors of these states said that despite having majority, the constitutional system of the state had failed.

In this case, the Supreme Court had emphasized on strict separation between state and religion.

One of the judges who delivered the decision wrote that the program or principles of political parties developed on religious lines, tantamount to recognizing religion as a part of political governance, is clearly prohibited in the Constitution. The court had also said that apart from law, there should be secularism in the work of the executive also.

However later this case became weak. The court held in 1995 that a leader's statement that 'the first Hindu state will be established in Maharashtra' did not amount to seeking votes on religious grounds.

In the year 2002, the syllabus prepared by NCERT was challenged on the grounds that it included Sanskrit, Vedic mathematics etc. In this case the court upheld the curriculum. One judge wrote, "The policy of neutrality has done the country no good."

On this, former Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam had said in a lecture given in 2009 that this decision ignored the fact that the teachings of only one religion were included in the curriculum.

In 2004, while preventing the then president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Praveen Togadia, from entering a tense district in Karnataka, the Supreme Court had said, "No person can be allowed to do anything that can destroy secularism in the country."

In the same case, the Supreme Court said, "Every citizen of the country, no matter what his religion, should be assured by the state that he is free and protected to practice and propagate his religion."

But in recent times there have been many allegations that the courts are not secular.

Dr. Gopal says, "There are many examples in which courts have taken the help of religious texts for their decisions." He says, "The addendum to the decision on Ayodhya is a religious order."

There is an additional addendum to the decision on Ayodhya. It emphasizes the belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the same place where Babri Masjid was.

Dr. Dhawan even feels that the courts have become weak in maintaining secularism. He says, “In the Gyanvapi case, the Places of Worship Act was completely forgotten.”

Dr Tiwari says, "The courts have also repeatedly demanded a uniform civil code; it is like the agenda of a political party."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi consecrating Ram temple in Ayodhya

According to Dr. Dhawan, the activities of 22 January were against the idea of ​​Indian secularism.

He says, “You should not support and politicize any religion the way it was done. This is not good for India's secularism, which creates distance between the state and religion by pretending to be neutral. Clearly the government does not seem to be doing this.

He asks that you cannot favor one religion to the exclusion of other religions, will the Prime Minister still go there when the mosque is built?

Dr. Tiwari says, “Our constitutional promise to minorities is religious freedom without discrimination. Sadly, these rights are under threat and they do not feel safe.

According to Professor Hilal Ahmed of the Center for Study of Developing Society, the event held in Ayodhya can be seen from two perspectives.

One could say that this was a cultural event, so government involvement is acceptable from a legal point of view. Whereas in the Indian context, donating to a mosque, a temple or a politician or donating for the renovation of a temple would generally be acceptable.

He says, “However, another way to look at it would be to look at the constitutional morality behind it. The state is expected to maintain a principled distance from religious matters. There are two questions here: Is it a religious event or not? Will people of all religions be included in this or will they themselves feel sidelined by it?

He says that from that perspective, organizing Ayodhya could be against the idea of ​​secularism and constitutional morality.

South Asia's peace conflict linked to Kashmir solution: Caretaker Foreign Minister

Pakistan's Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani has said that peace in South Asia is not possible until the Kashmir conflict is resolved according to the UN resolutions.

Pakistan 's Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani has said that peace in South Asia is not possible until the conflict of Jammu and Kashmir is resolved in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

According to Radio Pakistan, Jalil Abbas Jilani expressed these views after inaugurating a photo exhibition in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day at the Pakistani embassy in Brussels on Wednesday.

The exhibition depicts the plight of the people of Indian -administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The foreign minister said in his address that 'the brave sons and daughters of Jammu and Kashmir have bravely resisted all Indian attempts at oppression.'

He said that 'India has failed to suppress the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and their sacrifices will be remembered in history.'

According to the Pakistani Foreign Minister: 'The international community should urge India to stop the ongoing human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir, withdraw the unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, 2019 and implement the UN Security Council resolutions. Put pressure.'

He further said that 'Pakistan stands in full solidarity with the Kashmiri people in their struggle to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination.'

In this regard, Jalil Abbas Jilani wrote on social media platform X: '5th February is a day of solidarity with the helpless Kashmiris of Occupied Kashmir under the illegal occupation of India for the last 75 years.

"Sustainable peace in South Asia depends on the resolution of the Kashmir conflict in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and Kashmiri aspirations."

The exhibition in Brussels shows serious human rights violations in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The Foreign Office wrote on its X account that 'Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani has met the Secretary General of the European External Action Service Stefano Sanino in Brussels. Both expressed satisfaction over the positive momentum of relations between Pakistan and the European Union.

Discussed global and regional developments. Under the Strategic Engagement Plan (2019), it has been agreed to strengthen relations and deepen cooperation in the sectors.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani also met EU Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra in Brussels.

He appreciated the European Union's support for Pakistan's recovery after the devastating floods in 2022.

Ways to strengthen green cooperation between Pakistan and the European Union were also discussed in the meeting.

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