Friday, July 22, 2011

Indian Constitution Violates Itself

 Article 341 Para 3 v/s Article 15 Para 1 and 2        By Madhu Chandra
Article 15 of the Indian Constitution gives fundamental rights to all Indian citizens against any form of discrimination either by the state or any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. Every Indian is proud about this guarantee without much knowing that the same constitution violets itself on the basis of religion. The Scheduled Caste, known untouchable or Dalits suffer under this violation for sixty one years.       
The President Order 1950 enacted Para 3 of Article 341, which discriminates Dalits on the basis of religion against fundamental rights guaranteed under Indian Constitution. The Presidential Order 1950 disqualifies Dalits to be members of Scheduled Caste known untouchable, if they choose any religion other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Dalits who converted to Sikhism was disqualified until rectified the error by amending of Para 3 of Article 341 in 1956. So was also those Dalits who converted to Buddhism until 1990.
Pure form of constitutional violation by its own constitution, it still exists without any attempt to rectify it when the matter of interest related to those Dalits who have converted to Islam and Christianity.
It is a direct punishment to Dalits under the constitutional Presidential Order of 1950. It is like a punishment to Dalits, “if you leave Hinduism and convert to any other religion, which is also guarantee by Article 25 of Indian Constitution to profess any faith or religion of your choice, the constitutional provision will be taken away. This punishment includes the affirmative action programs for Dalits and legal provision like the Prevention of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Atrocity Acts 1989.
The constitutional provisions and affirmation action facilities are barred from those Dalits who have converted from Hinduism to any other religions, first to Sikhism till 1956, Buddhism till 1990 and continues to those who converted to Christians and Muslims. If this is not the violation of its own constitutional fundamental rights on the basis of religion, then what is the Article 341 Para 3?
As the constitution also provides the constitutional remedies, so the Sikh Dalits and Buddhist Dalits have struggled to get their fundamental, birth and constitutional rights and they got it after discrimination for six years to Sikhs and 40 years to Buddhist.
What about Christians and Muslims? They too have been fighting for their fundamental rights but unfortunately, their cry is not heard for last sixty one years. Commissions after commission were setup to look into the struggle and almost all of them have recommended to include Dalits converted to Islam and Christianity, including the latest Commission for Minority Religion and Linguistic Minority also known as Misra Commission, setup by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in 2005.
Misra Commission has submitted its report to UPA Government on May 22, 2007 with recommendation to delink religion from Presidential Order 1950. Interestingly, rather surprisingly, UPA government has kept silent after Misra Commission report that the government is studying the report again. If UPA government wants to study Misra Commission reports, when then commission was setup?
The struggle continues and so also faith-based discrimination under Indian state to its own people. Dalit Christians from across the nation have decided to launch four days hunger strike at national capital city from July 25 – 27 and mass rally on 28, to bring pressure upon the government during Manson Parliament sessions.

The Chronology Dalit Christian reservation demands is listed at this link 

Madhu Chandra is a social activist and research scholar based in New Delhi. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council Spokes Person of North East Support Centre & Helpline and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations 

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