Amid CAA protests, eight eminent personalities call on citizens to 'introspect and audit' working of Constitution ahead of R-Day

  • Eight eminent personalities, including former Supreme Court judge J Chelameswar and ex-Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, have appealed to people to "introspect and audit" the working of the Constitution ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Republic.

  • The citizenship law, notified on 10 January, grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India till 31 December, 2014, because of religious persecution in their countries.

  • However, the government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has defended the law, saying the minority groups from the three countries have no other option but to come to India when they face religious persecution there.

New Delhi: Eight eminent personalities, including former Supreme Court judge J Chelameswar and ex-Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, have appealed to people to "introspect and audit" the working of the Constitution ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Republic.

 Amid CAA protests, eight eminent personalities call on citizens to introspect and audit working of Constitution ahead of R-Day

File image of former Supreme Court judge J Chelameswar. PTI

"Is the Constitution a mere administrative manual which enables the elected governments to claim legitimacy for abuse of power, and allows the citizens to convert liberty into license disregarding rights of others? Is it simply another text penned by ink, or a sacred text written in the blood of innumerable martyrs who transcended the barriers of caste, religion, region, ethnicity and language?" they asked in an open letter.

Their appeal has come at a time when there have been protests, some of them violent, against the new citizenship law, which critics say discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution. Stressing that peaceful reconciliation of conflicting interests, healthy public discourse, and respect for dissenting views are at the heart of democracy, they urged people to "introspect whether truth and non-violence — the two values held very dear to the heart of the Father of the Nation — continue to inform our actions in the public sphere."

Under the title '70 years of Indian Constitution-A Defining Moment', the signatories of the letter said 70 years of the working of the Constitution provided an "opportunity to celebrate our successes, and also to introspect and resolve to overcome our shortcomings". "We appeal to all citizens to utilise this solemn occasion to celebrate our success, reflect on our current concerns, particularly about our plural, secular society, and resolve to fulfil the Constitutional goals envisaged by Dr Ambedkar and our forefathers as summed up in the Preamble," they said.

Apart from Quraishi and Chelameswar, the letter has been signed by film personality Sharmila Tagore, former Indian Army Commander Lt General Harcharanjit Singh Panag, filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Carnatic musician and creative personality TM Krishna, former chairman of UGC and ICSSR Sukhdeo Thorat and former member of the Planning Commission Syeda Hameed. They said each generation has a "solemn duty to constantly introspect and audit the working of the Constitution".

"The 70th anniversary of the Republic is an appropriate moment to celebrate and introspect by peacefully observing the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January), foundation day of the Election Commission celebrated as the National Voters Day (25 January), the Republic Day (26 January) and the martyrdom of the Father of the Nation (30 January)," they said.

The citizenship law, notified on 10 January, grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India till 31 December, 2014, because of religious persecution in their countries. However, the government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has defended the law, saying the minority groups from the three countries have no other option but to come to India when they face religious persecution there.

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Updated Date: Jan 12, 2020 21:46:29 IST