OP. ED.

“Law and order are the medicine of the body politic and when the body politic gets sick, medicine must be administered.”

-Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (Father of the Indian Constitution)

This 26-11-2019, India celebrates the landmark 70 Years of its Constitution which was formally adopted on 26-11-1949.

This Constitution day holds significance due to some incredible events that took place this year in which the most striking event that overpowered every other event was – Abrogation of Article 370, due to which now Jammu and Kashmir will also acknowledge and celebrate the “Constitution Day”.

Drafting Committee was elected by the Constituent Assembly on 29th August 1947. It held its first meeting on 30th August. Since August 30th it sat for 141 days during which it was engaged in the preparation of the Draft Constitution.  The first Draft Constitution as presented by the Drafting Committee to the Constituent Assembly contained 315 Articles and 8 Schedules. At the end of the consideration stage, the number of articles in the Draft Constitution increased to 386. In its final form, the Draft Constitution contains 395 Articles and 8 Schedules.

The Constitution of India has gone through more than 100 Constitutional amendments. Now the Constitution comprises 466 Articles and 13 Schedules. 

As per Article 79 of the Constitution of India, the Council of the Parliament of the Union consists of the President and two Houses known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head to aid and advise the President, who shall exercise his/her functions in accordance to the advice. The real executive power is thus vested in the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head.

Some of the excerpts from Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s last speech, which would definitely leave us with thoughts and perspectives of our own, have been stated below:

“On the 26th of January 1950, India would be a democratic country in the sense that India from that day would have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The same thought comes to my mind. What would happen to her democratic Constitution? Will she be able to maintain it or will she lost it again this is the second thought that comes to my mind and makes me as anxious as the first.”

“…it is quite possible in a country like India – where democracy from its long disuse must be regarded as something quite new – there is danger of democracy giving place to dictatorship. It is quite possible for this new born democracy to retain its form but give place to dictatorship in fact. If there is a landslide, the danger of the second possibility becoming· actuality is much greater.”

If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do?

The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution.”

“The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions.”

“The third thing we must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy.”

In the end Babasaheb parted with the following words:

Independence is no doubt a matter of joy. But let us not forget that this independence has thrown on us great responsibilities. By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame. Except ourselves. There is great danger of things going wrong. Times are fast changing. People including our own are being moved by new ideologies. They are getting tired of Government by the people. They are prepared to have Governments for the people and are indifferent whether it is Government of the people and by the people. If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer Government for the people to Government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. That is the only way to serve the country. I know of no better.

Preamble to the Constitution of India

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

Now is the time, more than ever, for the powers to be to follow Dr Ambedkar’s advice and abide by the mandate provided by the Constitution of India because India is on the verge of becoming an economic super power and it is essential for the existence of idea of India that the vastly dynamic stratas in the society of the country get proper space to develop within the umbrella of the State’s protection and care, along with the necessary stimulus to the amazingly vibrant corporate sector, in State’s policies.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court has time and again proved that it is rightly the custodian of our Constitution, which gives a sense of belief that the nation will tread the path of light and hope as envisaged by our Constitution givers.
Hot Off The PressNews

On the penultimate day of the Aadhaar hearing, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan continued with his rejoinder before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ.

Below are the highlights from the arguments advanced on Day 37 of the Aadhaar Hearing:

  • Shyam Divan:
    • We’re linking Individuals Aadhaar with their bank accounts and mobile numbers without their permission. It’s called inorganic seeding. Without statutory backing UIDAI collected biometrics of hundred crore people which is the entire population of Europe and North America.
    • From the citizens perspective, there’s authentication tower and enrollment tower. IP address, ID, date, time and purpose of authentication can be known because of the architecture of Aadhaar. Source code of the Aadhaar software belongs to foreign companies. It is impossible to live in contemporary India without Aadhaar.
    • Aadhaar linking is not a one time thing. It’s a continuous process.
    • ID4D 2015 report was relied on by the Attorney General KK Venugopal. World bank had partnered with Accenture to write this report. Therefore the report is not impartial.
    • Collecting biometrics was ultra vires the 2009 notification. Assuming the notification was an act of parliament, even then it would’ve been ultra vires for collecting something as intrusive as biometrics. Also there was no informed consent and penalties that time.
    • UIDAI has been flouting the interim orders of the SC. Aadhaar schemes under section 7 should not involve children, merit education. Exclude schemes for rehabilitation and involve stigma like bonded labourers, exclude food and nutrition, matters related to health.
    • There cannot be retrogression of human rights.
    • Sarva shiksha Abhiyan and mid day meal schemes requires children to furnish Aadhaar to avail benefits of these schemes. This should be completely excluded from section 7. There should be no conditions placed on children to avail these benefits.
    • Aadhaar was even required to participate in essay competition. This is way beyond any reasonable limit of proportionality.
    • Highly vulnerable groups should not be mandated to provide Aadhaar. Even Ujjwala scheme for women rescued from trafficking requires Aadhaar.
  • Sikri, J: The problem is that wrong beneficiaries receive such benefits.
  • Shyam Divan:
    • Even tuberculosis patients were mandated to disclose Aadhaar numbers. 
    • Please don’t consider Section 7 by itself but the overall impact of the Act. This is an over extension of the coercive powers of the State. Section 7 beneficiaries are demoted to the status of second class citizens. Aadhaar authentication is a violation of personal autonomy.
    • Also, Aadhaar is probabilistic. Non retrogression of rights is an important principle of human rights law.
    • This act has a huge impact on human rights. Constitution has an intricate scheme to defend part III with the final defence lying with the SC. Cannot bypass wisdom of Rajya Sabha and Article 111 to pass Aadhaar as a money bill.
    • Demographic information in many situations is also important and should not be trivialised. People must have the choice to preserve and protect it.
    • The architecture of Aadhaar with full traceability enables mass surveillance, and profiling. There are a lot of lawyers who are doing this pro Bono because they believe this is a huge constitutional matter. There’s no commercial interest.
    • The Aadhaar Act will not survive the first five words of the preamble, “We the people of India”.

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  • Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium:
    • State functionaries have a continuing constitutional obligation. If the obligation is not met, it cannot be reversed and the burden of proof cannot be on Individuals to establish their identity.
    • Do children want fake mid day meals? Do poor disabled people want to fake their identity?
    • Section 33 will allow sharing of authentication records. Footprints of ones activities are known by the State. Is there any nexus between such knowledge of the State and delivery of services?
    • You need all the other identity documents like ration cards, along with Aadhaar number. A person can ping the authentication machine three times and get rejected and then get accepted on the fourth ping. How can we subject citizens to this?
    • Is Aadhaar really for the oppressed? Because everyone is now supposed to link it with banks, telecom etc. What exactly is the compelling state interest that has been demonstrated?
    • Admissions to schools is denied for lack of Aadhaar. The legislation is not an enabler, and not used for empowerment. Therefore, it falls on all grounds that is Articles 14, 19 and 21.
    • Data of citizens can be used for political exercise. Aadhaar’s preponderant nature is likely to invade. Aadhaar alters the symbiotic nature between state and citizen.
    • This law is a fetter on self actualization. However noble your intentions maybe, if you step out of the boundaries of the Constitution, then there’s no saving such legislation.

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To read the highlights from the submissions of AG KK Venugopal on the issue of money bill, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Zoheb Hossain, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, click here , here , here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by ASG Tushar Mehta, click here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by the Attorney General, click here, here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the PowerPoint Presentation made by the CEO of UIDAI, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, CU Singh, Sanjay Hegde and Counsel Jayna Kothari, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates KV Viswanathan and Anand Grover, click here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here, here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source: twitter.com/SFLCin