Underlining that this is the time for “duty towards the country” and “be it people or institutions, our responsibilities are our first priority”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday that in the current global scenario, the world is looking with hope at India amidst its growing economy and international image.
Addressing a gathering in the Supreme Court to mark Constitution Day, the Prime Minister said India, defying initial apprehensions about its stability, is moving ahead with full force, taking pride in its diversity. He credited the Constitution for this success.
Referring to the first three words of the Preamble, ‘We, The People’, Modi said, “We, The People is a call, trust and an oath. This spirit of the Constitution is the spirit of India, that has been the mother of democracy in the world.”
“In the modern time, the Constitution has embraced all the cultural and moral emotions of the nation.”
He said the country is strengthening the ideals of the Constitution and pro-people policies are empowering the poor and women of the country. He said laws are being made simpler and accessible for citizens, and the judiciary is taking several steps to ensure timely justice.
Referring to his emphasis on duties in his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister said it is the manifestation of the spirit of the Constitution.
Calling the Amrit Kaal as ‘Kartavya Kaal’, he said in the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal, when the nation is completing 75 years of Independence, and embarking on the journey for the next 25 years of development, the mantra of duty towards the nation is first and foremost.
“The Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal is the time for duty towards the country. Be it people or institutions, our responsibilities are our first priority,” he said. By following one’s ‘kartavya path’ the country, he said, can attain new heights of development.
Stating that in a week’s time, India is going to attain the G20 Presidency, he underlined the need to promote the prestige and reputation of the country as a team.
“It is our collective responsibility,” he said. “The identity of India as the mother of democracy needs to be further strengthened.”
Recalling that on November 26, India faced the biggest terrorist attack in its history by “the enemies of humanity”, he paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the Mumbai terror attacks.
He said there was a need to increase awareness about the Constitution among the youth for better understanding of topics like equality and empowerment.
“What happened in the debates of the Constituent Assembly at that time, our youth should be aware of all these topics,” he said.
He recalled that the Constituent Assembly had 15 women members and one among them, Dakshayani Velayudhan, was from an underprivileged class who had reached there. He said contributions of women like Dakshaini Velayudhan are rarely discussed, and that she made important interventions on many subjects related to Dalits and labourers.
The Prime Minister cited examples of Durgabai Deshmukh, Hansa Mehta and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and other women members who also made significant contributions to issues related to women.
“When our youth will get to know these facts, they will find the answers to their questions,” he said. “It will build loyalty towards the Constitution which will strengthen our democracy, our Constitution and the future of the country,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said that “from the government side, under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are doing everything possible to strengthen the Indian judicial system”.
He said he is lucky to have “a very close, cordial relationship with the Indian judiciary” and identify issues that need to be addressed together.
Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said judges across India’s courts, ranging from the district courts to the Supreme Court, must reflect upon the constitutional vision of securing justice, equality and liberty.
“There is a need for us to introspect on our actions and decisions and to question our own prejudices and preconceptions. For, until we open our minds to multiple views of persons with varied lived experiences, we would be lacking in our role as judges,” he said, adding that an institution thrives with time only when it functions democratically.
The CJI said that colonial and pre-colonial courts followed an “approach of reluctance, disinclination and inaction in protecting the rights of citizens”, but “with the birth of constitutional democracy, the culture of reluctance was replaced by a call for a dedicated judiciary to protect the rights of citizens”.
“The story of the Indian Constitution is not a story only of legal text and legal interpretation. It is a story of human struggles and sacrifices. It is a story of undoing injustices against the marginalised sections of our society. It must be remembered that the marginalised communities were the first to plant the seeds of the constitutional ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity on Indian soil. The first wave of resistance against the colonial power came from the indigenous communities of India,” he said.
The Constitution, he said, is a social contract between those who were in power historically and those who were oppressed and sought to change the power hegemony and chose to govern themselves.
Attorney General R Venkataramani said, “It is important that the government stop overloading the court with endless statutory appeals alongside a seamless and huge flow of cases from high courts. The conversion of the Supreme Court into a small-cause court must stop even though for one in trouble any court is good enough,” he said.