“Some religious fundamentalists want this country to be theocratic, and if it is to be theocratic they want it to be Hindu theocracy.”
“They want this country to be a theocratic state and all other religious bodies and communities to be secondary citizens.”
“All religious books, whether it is Koran, Bible or Granth Saheb or Avastha, they are all teaching us ethical principles”
There is a concerted effort to change the basic secular character of the Indian Constitution: Justice PB Sawant, former SC Judge
Justice Sawant was on the Supreme Court bench that upheld secularism as one of the pillars of the Indian Constitution.
In conversation with Teesta Setalvad, Justice Sawant shared thoughts about secularism, ethical behaviour, Indian democracy and the integrity necessary to be a judge.
He spoke to Teesta Setalvad about secularism being part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India and how it was simply brought into the Preamble through a Constitutional Amendment to emphasise this fact. If the very nature of the secular state in India, based on its Constitution comes under threat and attack, Justice Sawant said that there would be a “strong contestation” if there were any attempts at changing “even a word in the Indian Constitution as far as secularism is concerned.” The attempts at the conversion of India into a theocratic state where Hindus enjoy superior rights was afoot but would be resisted and challenged, he declared.
A judge should have “integrity of character, independence of mind, and courage to stick to the principles, to abide by the constitution”
“Unless the affairs of the country are governed by the wishes of the people you cannot say you have a democratic government”
Justice Sawant also pointed out that religious texts of every Faith display guidelines to ethical behaviour that can inspire societies and lawmakers. and that those in high office should never forget that they represent the Constitution of a secular state based on diversity and equal rights for all.
While talking about his book The Grammar of Democracy, Justice Sawant highlighted that “as long as we do not ensure (every person’s right to contest an election), we cannot say that we have a truly representative democracy.”
Watch Justice Sawant in conversation with Teesta Setalvad on Hillele.org