Fundamental rights! 

Fundamental rights are those rights which are essential for the intellectual, moral and spiritual development of individuals. These rights are integral or indispensable for the existence and all-round development of individuals; hence, it’s called ‘Fundamental’ rights. These are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India.

Following rights are the fundamental human rights that every citizen of India has the liberty to enjoy; they form a vital aspect of the Indian constitution. They help in preserving human dignity and allow every citizen to live with selfrespect. They accentuate the fundamental accord of India by guaranteeing the same rights to everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, place of birth, etc.

  • Right to Equality
  • Right to Freedom
  • Cultural and Educational rights
  • Right to Freedom of Religion
  • Right against Exploitation
  • Right Constitutional Remedies

These are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution of India.

The above statements are heavyduty statements for an engineer like me. But these are the bread and butter things for Supreme Court lawyers who make their millions guarding fundamental rights of people. For the lawyers, things look pretty good. The fundamental rights are being challenged quite regularly these days; the lawyers profession is like that of a share trader. Share trader always earns his 0.5% irrespective of whether the buyer and seller make or lose money.

In the last week or so, a lot of fundamental things are being challenged in the Supreme Court. Are the Supreme Court’s comments indicative of the direction that we will see in India?

The first and foremost is a case of death of a fourmonth child of a couple, taking part in peaceful protests at Shaheen Baug. The incident was taken by the Supreme Court “Suo Moto.” (on their own) The child died as it was taken to the protests by its parents. The winter was harsh, and after the child was taken home, it died due to exposure. The Supreme Court has sent notices to both the Central and Delhi government to inquire how this happened. They are expected to report back within a specific time frame.

During the argument, two lady lawyers representing the child’s side made statements as to how CAA and NRC are wrong. They also argued that the poor child was called Pakistani/Terrorist. The Chief Justice Mr Bobde made a valid point. He told the ladies not to stray from the main case. He further said that the matters about CAA/NRC are already in the court, and the current case was not about these issues. Here the topic being discussed is the fundamental right of the child. Why was the child exposed to severe weather? As a minor, it had no control over where it was taken? Why it’s fundamental rights were not protected? Who gave the rights to the parents to expose it to the harsh weather?

People, in general, forget or do not bother about other people’s rights when they are not in the right frame of mind. They trample on the rights of the others. Their mind is so vitiated that they forget that others also have fundamental rights. When one forgets about the rights of their own child, they won’t bother about other people.

Another case is about the fundamental rights of people on the same subject. For a long time, people have blocked the road passing through Shaheen Baug. The Supreme Court said that the protesters have the fundamental right to protest. But many people and institutions have filed petitions in the Supreme Court on the same subject. The Court wondered why the protests are continuing when the matter is sub judice! The Court further said that they have the right to continue to protest. But what about the protesters blocking the road for others? What about the fundamental rights of local commuters who are required to face a long detour due to continued protests? In this event too, both the Central Government and Delhi Government have been asked to file their reply to the Court. The Court has told the protesters to talk to government agencies to give them a suitable place for protesting without disturbing the fundamental rights of others. The Supreme Court has also said that they will provide the final decision after hearing the protesters side!

Another compelling case is about SC/ST reservations. Here the Court has argued that the people in this category had to face discrimination over an extended part of history. The historical wrong needs to be corrected. But it does not mean that it becomes a fundamental right of this group of people. The government can take affirmative action in this case for giving them jobs, but the same rule cannot be applied later when the promotions are offered during the service. It is not a fundamental right of the human that needs to be corrected at every stage. Supreme Court gave a decision that since the matter does not involve fundamental rights, the group should go to the government for resolution. Supreme Court cannot provide a directive to the government.

Another tricky case that the Supreme Court is handling is the Sabrimala case. It applies to Muslim personal law also. For the Supreme Court that it is a significant case, hence they have formed a panel of nine judges to handle the case. The main argument here is whether religious bodies can give a diktat which overrides the fundamental right of women provided by the constitution! It is a classic case of the rights of institutions against the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In a democracy, it is always said that the constitution is supreme.

The last one year has been important for India as the Supreme Court has resolved a significant dispute about the Ram Janmabhumi. Both sides have accepted the result gracefully. I feel that all parties should show the same grace, in future, regarding other notable cases that will prove to us and the world that India is not an anarchic democracy, but it is a working democracy.

The most challenging point is discussed and the disputed is the right to freedom. Everybody has the right to freedom; all the people in our society have this fundamental right. A person or group demands its right and gets it. But while doing this, the group tramples on someone else’s right. In the case referred above, the protesters blocked the road. The blockage caused inconveniences to thousands of people who used the way every day. Such situations create issues which need to be resolved.

One fundamental right you and I have been denied since independence. It is the control over who governs us. Legislators who stand for elections are selected on the socalled winnability of the candidate. The candidates educational background, experience, achievements and most importantly, criminal background are never discussed openly. There are weak rules about these aspects. Now the Supreme Court is hearing a case where election commission has recommended that all this information about the candidates selected be declared in vernacular newspapers, and on the party’s website within a stipulated time of 24 to 48 hours of selection. At that time, parties should also announce why the candidate is suitable for selection. In Delhi Vidhan sabha election, the % of those with criminal background has gone up from 24 % to 43 % from 2015 to 2020! It is our fundamental right to know how a person with murder and rape cases is suitable for election!

It appears the only institution that can bring back normalcy to the current turmoil in India is Court. Let us hope that the liberals and persons who don’t accept anything against their thought process allow the nation to function normally. I sincerely hope that they change their thinking from “My way or Highway”!

This is added late in the blog. Nothing to do with fundamental rights but shows how tough the Supreme Court is. This morning they blasted the government and Telcos for not paying a single rupee out of 92000 crore Rupees due. By evening the government has started issuing notices circle wise to Telcos! Telcos are given time upto 11.59 pm tonight!

Traditionally speaking…

Tradition means a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another. This is a great thing that we humans do. Traditions have been formed and continued based on what we have been doing year after year. But what has now happened is that traditions and their real meaning, and their relevance getting is lost in translation. Many of the traditions started in olden times with a specific thought process which was relevant at that time, within the knowledge level of those times but we want to continue using them without thinking! We also know that technology is the boon given to human race by intelligence and hard work of various people. But in case of tradition sometimes technology is becoming a  bane, a cause of great distress or annoyance:

What I feel is that instead of using technology in the right way, it is being used in such a way that it is causing harm. Take the case of crackers. Supreme Court has recently come up with a directive not to burst crackers in Delhi region due to serious pollution issues. There is a big discussion and people are upset about “heavy handed” action against traditions. But a close look at the situation in that area will tell us that traditionally farmers burn their chaff, people burst crackers of Diwali and the air purity goes to an absolute toss! Chaff can be disposed off by using different methods but we don’t want to change the tradition! Instead of being adamant about traditions, people should come together find out ways and means to enhance the joy of traditions, by lighting lovely wick lamps or diyas! Light thousands of them and enjoy the beauty and serenity!

delhi_smog_1478513562325diyas

Bursting crackers and enjoying decorative lighting is part of celebration but crackers without much smoke and cacophony is the order of the day. In olden days what was the population size? How many people burst the crackers? There was no car pollution, there was no coal power plants pollution. With all these modern changes if millions start bursting crackers we have seen what has happened. On top of that people buy crackers which are tied up as 10000 fire cracker garland. With technology the bursting strength and sound has gone up by many decibels. On top of that smoke generated by 10000 crackers is enormous! In my childhood 60 years back I remember about 7/8 of us kids would burst about 80 crackers in one hour, one at a time! These garlands were never our tradition because they never existed. We are making wrong innovations in the right tradition.

10000crackers1

Take the case of Dassara festival. It is naturally celebrated with big fanfare with a lot of flowers, garlands new clothes, it is a total celebration. This is celebrated for nine days with gusto. People dance with gay abandon to celebrate different form of the Goddess on each day! They take out processions, all fine! Now comes the misuse of technology. Since last 20 years or so procession also has big bank of huge speakers generating god knows how many decibels. During such procession which used to pass by our home, we would close the windows tightly shut, even with the windows tightly shut we could not hear a single word on TV at full volume. Only option left to us was to call police. Then the speakers would be toned down to normal volume for 200 feet and then… of course they would go full blast!

Speakers

Sabarimala devasthanam in Kerala is a temple existing from 12th century. It is in a very remote area in hills of Kerala. From olden times due to remoteness and difficult terrain,  and no roads women have avoided to go there. This practice somehow turned into tradition and was surprisingly ratified by High Court in 1991 saying that women within age group of 15 & 50 i.e. their menstruating age should not enter the Mandir as they will desecrate it. Even today in the year 2017 this practice is followed. It is a great mercy on people that Supreme Court has taken up this issue and is reviewing it. Tradition! What tradition? It is well proven beyond doubt that women are equal to men in ALL fields in spite of their monthly difficulties and difficult times during child bearing. The official spokes person of the devsthananam had the gumption to say that, “If women mentioned in above age group were  allowed to enter, then it will turn into Thailand, the Sex Tourism spot!” It is really stretching things too far!  If there is a law that says that this practice be allowed, change the damn law!

sabarimala

High profile and fearless persons, especially ladies, have to face smear campaign if they speak something about overcoming wrong practices followed under the garb of tradition. Why not let the ladies join the funeral pyre as Sati? Why not make her sit away from everybody during that time? Thank god such stupid things are done away with. Traditional thinking still has not changed as can be seen from looking at the sex ratio many states in India, females are between 85 to 92% of male population. Illegal sex tests and abortion are still rampant though governments are trying to do their best. Why? Traditionally one must have at least one son! 

Let us take a vow that we all will break the so called traditions which were practices that are existing but cannot withstand today’s scrutiny of science, knowledge and analysis. It’s fine to write “Happy Diwali” instead of “शुभ दीपावली”. We learnt English in last 100 years but it’s blatantly ok to break such an old tradition. Of course I am joking, these are not traditions but a way of communicating with each other.

Let me tell a story how traditions start. In a place of worship, a priest used to take discourse once in week. Over a period the priest developed breathing difficulties. Then just before one discourse a cat came and sat near the place where the priest sat for his discourse. The priest used to love cats but once the crowd started arriving it would run away. Priest would request someone to get the cat back out of sheer love for the animal. A tradition started that if the cat is not there, no discourse. Later the priest was transferred to be replaced by another priest.

The new Priest started coughing and sneezing when the cat was brought but somehow managed to complete his discourse. He went to a doctor and was told that these bouts were probably because of the furry friend. From next time onwards, before the discourse could start the people thought that the cat needs to be shooed away but it was breaking tradition, so cat was allowed to hang in, with same results to the priest. Over a period tradition continued that discourse would not start without the cat and the priest suffered. Finally people realized that the cat had to go away and priests’ health improved. This priest was transferred and old priest came back…. Tradition?