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Basic structure theory of Constitution has stood the test of time, says Akil Kureshi

Speaking at the 22nd Prof Ramlal Parikh Memorial Lecture at Ahmedabad on Sunday on the topic of “Constitution of India - is it fulfilling the dream of Gandhiji”, retired Justice Kureshi also referred to the Kesavananda Bharati judgement of 1973 by the SC, which laid down the basic structure doctrine.

Retired Justice Akil Kureshi (File Photo)

Recounting the evolution of the Constitution of India through debates and subsequent amendments, retired Justice Akil Kureshi reminded that the basic structure theory has stood the test of time and continues to hold in today’s context, adding that, “even if the entire Parliament were to unanimously hold today that India is not a secular country, it cannot do so”.

Speaking at the 22nd Prof Ramlal Parikh Memorial Lecture at Ahmedabad on Sunday on the topic of “Constitution of India – is it fulfilling the dream of Gandhiji”, retired Justice Kureshi also referred to the Kesavananda Bharati judgement of 1973 by the SC, which laid down the basic structure doctrine.

“The basic structure theory has stood the test of time and holds in Indian context today. The most significant impact of this judgement is that it puts certain parts of the Constitution of India beyond majoritarianism… So even if the entire parliament were to unanimously hold today that India is no longer a secular country, it cannot do so,” he said.

Addressing the debate on whether Mahatma Gandhi holds relevance still, the former Chief Justice of Rajasthan and Tripura High Court said, “The way in which all sections of the society and all organisations — political and non-political — of different ideologies and beliefs, use Gandhiji’s reference… we must put this debate to rest forever. Gandhiji will continue to be relevant to this country and to this world as long as the society does not achieve its full ideals of peace and non-violence.”

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Recounting on the framing of the Constitution, the debates and the evolution of ideas and ideals that led to the document that has imprints of Gandhiji, Justice Kureshi noted that the journey of the country began as “an experiment in social restructuring through peaceful constitutional means, a revolution at a scale never attempted before in the history of mankind”.

“Range of topics were debated… should there be a national language? What should be the language? Should it be Hindi? What is Hindi?…should India have a unitary structure or a federal structure… Citizenship was another contentious issue… One school of thought was that those who went to Pakistan, had abandoned the idea of India and should not be welcomed as Indian citizens… But Gandhiji’s influence, looming large, the majority which prevailed was that most of the people who left India, were most likely under duress and not out of choice… This country is inclusive and would not reject their claims,” he said.

First published on: 04-12-2022 at 23:08 IST
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