Free speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent Fundamental Right, but does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood? The Delhi Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria.
Replying to Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi party’s allegations, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote a blog post titled Falsehood as Free Speech on Facebook bashing Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal and rejected charges of corruption. In the post, he claimed that the allegations of corruption were wrong while it was wrong to use the free speech argument to speak falsehoods. He also claimed that the CBI didn’t raid Arvind Kejriwal’s office, that he’d left cricket administration in 2013 and questioned Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar’s support for Arvind Kejriwal. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Full Text of Arun Jaitley’s Facebook post: FALSEHOOD AS FREE SPEECHFree speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent Fundamental Right, but does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood? The Delhi Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria. A few days ago, a Secretary of the Delhi Government was searched and arrested after being caught red handed for allegedly accepting a bribe. The CBI had conducted the operation. The Delhi Government welcomed the move.Four days later, another official close to the Chief Minister was searched for an alleged offence which related to the pre-Kejriwal period. The Chief Minister raised two pleas. First, that it violates the federal structure of the Constitution. In addition, the Chief Minister used unacceptable adjectives against the Prime Minister and, second, he questioned the purpose of the search and tried to divert attention by linking it to the Delhi Cricket body rather than alleged corruption of this official.FederalismFederalism is not a one way stream. It is not always that the Union Government challenges the spirit of federalism. A State or a Union Territory, by its unacceptable conduct, can also be a threat to federalism. During the UPA Government, the Delhi Government, with no police or investigative powers, registered an FIR against two Union Cabinet Ministers of the UPA Government for voluntarily implementing a decision of the Cabinet. If State Governments start investigating decisions of the Union Cabinet there can be no greater threat to federalism. Delhi is a Union Territory with no Police powers. I had, on 12th February, 2013, written a blog and, as Leader of Opposition, condemned this violation of federalism by the Union Territory of Delhi.If the Union Government were to consider using against the Delhi Chief Minister the adjectives that Mr. Kejriwal used against the Prime Minister, it would be legitimate to contend that this is not in consonance with the federal spirit. When two Chief Ministers, Mamata Banerjee Ji and Nitish Kumar Babu, supported Mr. Kejriwal, notwithstanding the use of highly objectionable words against the Prime Minister, can it be in consonance with the federal spirit? The two Chief Ministers need to redeem themselves by publicly distancing themselves from Mr. Kejriwal’s vocabulary.Now that the heat and dust of the search of an IAS officer’s room has settled down, it is clear that the search had nothing to do with either the Chief Minister or his room. An official was being searched for an alleged offence in his earlier capacities. The CBI has adequately clarified that. Notwithstanding that, an actually false propaganda is being repeated continuously. Why should the Chief Minister place himself as a shield in front of an official who is facing investigation? Why should two eminent Chief Ministers lend themselves to support the blatant falsehood of Delhi’s Chief Minister?The DDCAIt is a part of propaganda technique to deflect attention when you yourselves are in the dock. Finding himself acting as a shield to cover an officer under investigation, the Delhi Chief Minister has attempted to focus attention on me. He repeats endlessly that I misled the Parliament on the Delhi raid and that he has a series of allegations to make against me in relation to my tenure as President of the DDCA – Delhi’s cricket body. The Congress transiently joined Mr. Kejriwal’s company for the reason that its own leaders are in the dock for more than one reason.Even though I am not concerned with cricket administration since 2013, a Member of Parliament has been writing to various governmental bodies with regard to Delhi’s cricket affairs. The UPA Government seized upon the opportunity and referred the complaints to the SFIO which investigated all his complaints over a period of time and submitted a detailed Report on 21st March 2013. The Report concluded in relation to the DDCA being registered under the Companies Act, that:- “thus, in a nutshell, there are certain irregularities / non-compliance or technical violations, but no fraud (was) noticed as alleged”.These technical and procedural violations were all compoundable and were compounded by Members against whom they were alleged. The SFIO, under the UPA regime, investigated and could not find a shred of evidence against me. No personal allegation was ever made against me nor did I ever feel the need of contradicting it. There are fake allegations such as escalation of cost of construction of a stadium. When work expands, cost escalations are integral. A brand new 42,000 capacity world class stadium was constructed by the EPIL, a public sector body at a total cost of around Rs.114 crores. At the same time, the UPA Government renovated two stadiums. The Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium was renovated at a cost of over Rs.900 crores and Dhyan Chand stadium was renovated at a cost of over Rs. 600 crores. I have felt the need for stating the above in order to counter any unsubstantiated, non-specific allegations. I have left cricket administration in 2013. By referring to some facts of 2014 and 2015, he can’t drag me in.FALSEHOOD AS FREE SPEECHFree speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent Fundamental Right, but does free speech include…
Posted by Arun Jaitley on Thursday, 17 December 2015
The ban on cattle slaughter, regardless of their age or use, and the imposition of stringent punishment for violating it has spawned a fiery discourse which has been hypocritically, and erroneously, framed as an incendiary issue between Hindus and Muslims.
This discourse justifies the ban on the ground that the slaughter of cattle, whether the cow or the bull or the ox, hurts the religious sentiments of Hindus, besides offering a slew of economic arguments in support. It also accuses Muslims of completely disregarding Hindu sentiments, consuming beef even though the cow doesn’t necessarily have to be the animal which has to be sacrificed for religious purposes.
This hypocritical discourse isn’t of recent vintage but dates back to the months in which the Constituent Assembly was debating and framing the Indian Constitution. But before reprising that debate, it is pertinent to recall the beef festival that lower caste students of Hyderabad’s Osmania University organised in April 2012, triggering a controversy which dominated headlines for days.
At the time some 2000 students partook of beef biryani even as a singer parodied a popular jingle to croon, “Beef is the secret of my energy.” This wasn’t merely a display of irreverence, but an assertion of what lower caste students believed was an unassailable logic – beef is a taboo for high caste Hindus, not the Dalits, sections of OBCs, Muslims and Christians. These students, therefore, argued that in not serving beef in hostels, the university authorities were showing an unjustifiable predilection for the religious sensitivity of high caste Hindus.
The 2012 episode belies the claims of those who insist beef is the staple of only Muslims and Christians. Indeed, the argument of hurt religious sentiments to ban cattle slaughter is yet another technique of the Hindu Right to create a homogeneous religious community through the imposition of high caste dietary practices on those lower to them in the social hierarchy.
The Hindu Right has sought to achieve its goal of banning cow slaughter through two methods. One, it has sought to create the myth of cow being the symbol of religious veneration in all times, citing this as the reason why beef is a taboo food item for Hindus. This myth has been punctured through several scholarly studies, which have marshalled an impressive range of evidence to establish that beef was prohibited for only high caste Hindus – that too, perhaps, in the last millennium.
Two, the Hindu Right has invoked economic arguments to justify the ban on cow slaughter. Essentially, this harps on the pivotal role the cattle play in the agrarian economy, from providing milk to pulling the plough to being a source of cheap fuel, to being a symbol of wealth. The sheer usefulness of the cow was cited as the underlying reason why it acquired an exalted status in the Hindu religious consciousness.
Both these arguments – religious and economic – were cited to demand a ban on cow slaughter in the Constituent Assembly.
Believe it or not, Muslim members in the Constituent Assembly said they could comprehend the decision to ban cow slaughter to show respect to Hindu religious sentiments. But this reason should be cited unambiguously, they demanded, not incorporated into the Constitution on flimsy economic grounds.
The ferocious debate over the cow is brought out in a fascinating essay, Negotiating the ‘Sacred’ Cow: Cow Slaughter and the Regulations of Difference in India, which academician Shraddha Chigateri has authored.
Incredible though it may sound, a few members in the Assembly wanted an Article prohibiting cow slaughter to be incorporated in the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution. Chigateri notes tongue-in-cheek, “This unique constitutional protection would have meant that the protection of the cow would have been treated on par with other human fundamental rights such as right to life, right to equality, etc…”
It was on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s insistence that cow protection was included in the chapter on the Directive Principle of State Policy, and not as a Fundamental Right. This found expression in Art 48, which states, “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and other milch and draught cattle.”
It is this provision which became the basis for several states to enact laws prohibiting or restricting the slaughter of cattle.
In the Constituent Assembly debate, two members, Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava and Seth Govind Das, cited economic reasons to demand ban on cow slaughter. However, there were subtle differences between their arguments – Bhargava, in contrast to Das, stated explicitly that he wasn’t demanding the ban for religious reasons.
Bhargava’s intervention in the debate bears this out. He said, “To grow more food and to improve agriculture and the cattle breed are all inter-dependent and are two sides of the same coin. [ …] The best way of increasing the production is to improve the health of human beings and breed of cattle, whose milk and manure and labour are most essential for growing food. […] From both points of view, of agriculture and food, protection of the cow becomes necessary.”
Das, on the other hand, also invoked religion in his argument saying, “… Cow protection is not only a matter of religion with us; it is also a cultural and economic question.”
The debate took another turn as a Muslim member from the United Provinces, Z.A. Lari, weighed in, “Mussalmans of India have been, and are, under the impression that they can, without violence to the
principles which govern the State, sacrifice cows and other animals on the occasion of Bakrid.”
He then went on to argue, “If the House is of the opinion that slaughter of cows should be prohibited, let it be prohibited in clear, definite and unambiguous words.”
What could those definite and unambiguous words be? The answer was provided by Syed Muhammad Sa’adulla, a Muslim member from Assam.
He said, “I do not want to obstruct the framers of our Constitution … if they come out in the open and say directly: ‘This is part of our religion. The cow should be protected from slaughter and therefore we want its provision either in the Fundamental Rights or in the Directive Principles … But, those who put it on the economic front … do create a suspicion in the minds of many that the ingrained Hindu feeling against cow slaughter is being satisfied by the backdoor.”
The word backdoor here implied citing economic reasons to justify what was a religious demand voiced by the Hindu Right. Tearing into Bhargava’s contention, Sa’adulla said that organising of agriculture on scientific lines presupposes culling “useless cattle” and introducing better breeds. He rebutted the arguments that the Muslims were the principal opponents to the contemplated ban on cow slaughter, claiming that there were thousands and thousands of Muslims who did not eat beef, and that for Muslims engaged in agriculture cattle were as useful economically as they were to their Hindu counterparts.
To quote Chigateri, “Syed Sa’adulla questioned the argument that Hindu reverence for the cow was always reflected through a taboo on slaughter, arguing that in Assam, when there was a shortage of cattle and a prohibition on the slaughter of milch or draught cattle, it was Hindus who resorted to slaughtering cows with the argument that the cattle were unserviceable and ‘dead weight’.”
Nevertheless, Article 48 was included in the Constitution, its words providing an economic gloss to what was essentially a religious demand. This provision a clutch of Muslim butchers challenged in the courts in the 1950s. The Supreme Court upheld the notion that the cow was held in reverence by the Hindus, but many legal luminaries, such as Prof Upendra Baxi, thought the judges perhaps hadn’t been as rigorous in examining evidence to reach such a sweeping conclusion.
The economic arguments, however, were difficult to sustain. Ultimately, the Supreme Court through a clutch of judgements held that a total ban on bullocks and bulls, despite being of old age and no longer economically useful, amounted to imposing unreasonable restrictions on the butchers – and was, therefore, ultra vires of the Constitution.
However, the Supreme accepted the total ban on cattle slaughter in 2005, through a judgement upholding the Gujarat government’s legislation on the issue. It declared bullocks and bulls are useful, as Chigateri notes, “past a certain age, in terms of added benefits of urine, dung – manure and biogas, especially in this age of alternate sources of energy.”
The court also cited Section g of Article 51 A to support its verdict. This provision enjoins citizens “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creations.” For a country debating euthanasia it might seem touching, in very ironical ways, to demonstrate compassion for the ageing and sick bull.
Violation of the ban on cattle slaughter could lead to the guilty being banished for five years in Maharashtra and 10 years in Haryana. Might not marginalized social groups– Dalits, sections of OBCs, and religious minorities –think that cattle in India enjoy greater privileges than them? When hypocrisy trumps reason, the consequences can only be bathetic.
(Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist from Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, published by HarperCollins, is available in bookstores. Email: [email protected])
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and all the states to “adhere to” its earlier order that no person should be denied any benefits or “suffer” for not having Aadhaar cards, issued by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
“In the meantime, it has been brought to the notice that the Aadhaar identification (card) is being insisted upon by various authorities. We are not going into the specific instances…
“We expect that the Union of India (UOI) and states and all their functionaries shall adhere to the order dated September 23, 2013,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice Chelameswar said.
The bench had earlier said, “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory…”.
At the outset, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, who appeared for one of the petitioners, said that despite the court order, authorities are insisting upon Aadhaar cards for the purposes of lease deed and marriage registrations and it is a matter of “serious concern”.
“Instances have come to our notice also,” the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde and C Nagappan, said and asked Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, to ensure that authorities adhere to its earlier order.
“There is no excuse for you (SG),” it said. The SG responded by saying that the Centre will be writing to all the Chief Secretaries of states in this regard.
The Solicitor General later told the court that as all the states are party, they can be asked to ensure that the order is followed and their officials like District Magistrates are informed about it.
During the hearing, the bench said that even judges of the Bombay High Court, as per a circular, were told to provide Aadhaar number to authorities. However, one of the lawyers said that that issue is now over.
The bench, hearing a batch of pleas against decisions of some states to make Aadhaar cards compulsory for a range of activities including salary, PF disbursals and marriage and property registrations, has now posted the matters for final hearing in the second week of July. The court today also told Subramaniam that he can file an interim plea alleging violation of the order by citing a specific case.
“The general order of this nature will not do” and “we will deal with particular case to ensure compliance”, it said.
Earlier, the court had said Aadhaar will not be mandatory and a person, who does not have Aadhaar, should not suffer in availing of government benefits and services like gas connections, vehicle registration, scholarships, marriage registration and provident fund.
It had asked the Centre not to issue Aadhaar cards to illegal immigrants as it would legitimise their stay.
“The scheme is complete infraction of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). The government claims that the scheme is voluntary but it is not so.
“Aadhaar is being made mandatory for purposes like registration of marriages and others. Maharashtra government has recently said no marriage will be registered if parties don’t have Aadhaar cards,” senior advocate Anil Divan, arguing for Justice (retd) K S Puttaswamy, former judge of Karnataka High Court who has filed one of the PILs, said.
Justice Puttaswamy, in his PIL, has also sought a stay on the implementation of the scheme.
Making Aadhaar mandatory for various purposes raises questions over the government’s authority to implement such types of the scheme, the plea had said, adding it also highlighted “the perils of the manner of its implementation”.
The Centre had said the consent of an individual was indispensable for Aadhaar and it has been launched to “promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof.”