Why India Needs A Second Republic Built Around A Dharmic Constitution

Swarajya Staff

Jul 07, 2022, 11:08 AM | Updated 03:39 PM IST

CJI N V Ramana (Twitter)
CJI N V Ramana (Twitter)

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana's remarks that the Indian judiciary is independent and “answerable to the Constitution and the Constitution alone” are problematic.

What to make of it: The judiciary is the official (and only) interpreter of the Constitution, and Article 142 even allows it to make the law in some cases, which means that the judiciary is answerable to the judiciary alone.

  • The judiciary is practically unaccountable even to the Constitution, as the Constitution did not ever say that a collegium of judges will decide all appointments to the higher judiciary.

  • The very low rate of actual impeachments over the last 75 years indicates that even this form of accountability is a dead letter.

Issues with the Constitution: The Constitution is a document that was liberally borrowed from the British-era Government of India Act, 1935, and some bits from European constitutions (Irish, for example), and practically nothing from Indian cultural and civilisational experience.

  • Defending the “Constitution and the Constitution alone” is effectively defending colonialism.

  • What the judiciary has been defending is the Abrahamic and European ideal of secularism when it should be defending an Indic plurality and sensibility that transcends religion.

  • Secularism has damaged no religion more than Hinduism, and the judiciary should learn to recognise the damage it has done to Hindu rights in the process of upholding the Constitution as it stands now.

India needs an unapologetically Dharmic constitution, which balances rights with responsibilities and individual freedoms with community interests.

  • European-style secularism is irrelevant to India, where communities are strong and the state is weak. All communities need to help formulate and adopt such a Dharmic constitution that will not cut into any religious community’s own rights.

  • We need a Dharmic constitution not because Muslims and Christians cannot be allowed to follow their own faiths, but because cultural unity demands respect for some core Dharmic ideas.

  • The constitution should have the aspect of respecting the religions birthed in India and circumscribing the rights of imperialist and expansionist faiths from damaging India’s cultural unity.

Can the Constitution be changed? Any changes in the Constitution will invite screams of “Saffronisation” and “Hindutva is seeking to tear up Ambedkar’s Constitution."

  • The reality is that the present Constitution has been amended more than a hundred times in less than 75 years, making it nothing like the draft left behind by Team Ambedkar.

  • Ambedkar, who accepted the Euro-centric idea of nationhood, did not call for a Dharmic constitution, but one can speculate that if he had lived longer in post-1947 India, he might well have seen the need for a modern constitution that is culturally rooted in India.

Bottom line: The case for a Second Republic, based on an indigenously evolved Dharmic constitution, is the way to go. CJI Ramana is defending something that has done us harm.

Read in full: CJI Ramana Is Off The Mark: We Need A Second Republic Built Around A Dharmic Constitution

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