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Judges on Concept of Equality Under the Constitution

Judges on Concept of Equality Under the Constitution

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Nagesh Chaudhary

On 8th September, 2012, a memorial lecture was organised in Mumbai under the auspices of ‘Adv. N L Belekar memorial lecture’ series. The speaker was ex-supreme court judge B.N. Srikrishna. The subject was ‘Concept of Equality under the Constitution’. J M Shah, chief justice of Bombay high court presided over the function.

Three judges of the Bombay high court spoke on the occasion. J M Shah speaking on the subject has quoted many cases during the course of his tenure as an advocate and judge. But surprisingly, he cited a verse from Manusmriti which according to him professes equality. He also gave the names of Rig Veda and Atharva Veda for advocating equality.

The main speaker, B N Srikrishna started his speech by singing a Sanskrit hymn, Saraswati vandana. He also cited from the Vedas and Upanishads and spoke on how they uphold equality. J M Shah gave the example of Gandhi in support of the subject. But none of the judges uttered even once the name of Dr. Ambedkar whom Dalits and Phule-Ambedkarites call the architect of the constitution. Apparently, for some of the high court and supreme court judges he is not considered as worthy of mention that too in the context of the subject, ‘Concept of Equality under the Constitution’.

Ambedkar condemned Vedas and burnt a copy of the Manusmriti in 1927 as these books propagated Varna-caste (hierarchical) system and untouchability. Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution in framing the constitution is unparalled and his urge for equality in India is also unparalled. It also means the main figure in framing the constitution denounced Vedas and Manusmriti, but the upholders of the constitution in the field of judiciary- the present time judges do not take any hint nor do they give any importance to Dr. Ambedkar.

A single verse in Manusmriti cannot wash out its entire anti-equality contents. However, surprisingly, the judges are propagating these very books and by that giving credibility to utterly anti-equality scriptures.

Such utterances do not fit into the concept of secularism also. Muslim or Christain judges can profess then that equality is in the Koran or the Bible. Should religions be brought in to play while speaking on a subject like, ‘Concept of Equality under the Constitution’? In a way, it will be overlooking the constitution and speaking through one’s own religion. Non-judiciary speakers may resort to such speeches but if the judicial persons go on eulogizing the scriptures, that too, those that are utterly anti-equality, then who can be upholders of the constitution?