Article 4.1 Sovereign Rights
of the PeopleAny sovereign
appointing a representative to govern on its behalf shall direct
that it be kept informed of all important matters, be consulted
on matters it desired, would participate in decision-making on
matters it wished, and would itself decide when it so chooses.
In democracy, these become the sovereign rights of the people to
information, consultation, participation and referendum. These
are sovereign rights of the people, intrinsic to democracy and
exist even if not provided in a constitution. They inhere in the
people by virtue of being sovereign.
Article 4.11 Right
Information is Power
Based on the
letter `ií this emblem symbolises informed citizens caring for
the nation with responsibility
people have the right to all public information except that
restricted by the society in public interest. The local, state
and union governments shall have to furnish categories of
information that they would like to restrict in public interest,
also indicating the period for which it shall
be thus restricted. The courts shall scrutinise on behalf of the
society whether a particular category proposed to be restricted
was indeed in public interest and the period reasonable.
The local, state and national governments shoul institute
Citizen Information Centres (CICs) in important public offices
at which information not restricted in public interest shall be
available to citizens for a reasonable price. The Local
Governments shall also encourage and licence entrepreneurial
Citizen Information Centres that procure public information from
public offices and make it available to citizens at a
competitive price. Information Technology should be used as a
powerful tool for creating an informed society. All state run
and licensed CICs shall display the logo illustrated alongside
Article 4.12 Right
through public hearings on all urban and regional projects
exceeding 10 meters in height or 1,000 sqm in land area shall be
mandatory. The public hearings shall be organised for all public
and private projects by the concerned local government after
collecting the costs involved from the project authorities. They
shall be conducted by hearing commissioners identified through
an independent process, and organised at identified affected
sites. The report of such public hearings shall be made public
and taken into consideration by public authorities while
deciding the matter.
Article 413 Right to
The local, state
and national governments shall, in consultation with the
Sovereign Rights Commissions, constitute participatory councils
on important matters. The recommendations of such councils shall
be given due consideration while deciding the matter. The
recommendations and the decision taken shall be made public.
Article 4.14 Right
(a) Referendum is
the supreme sovereign right of the people to over rule their
representatives, and not a right of the representatives to seek
support for their action or to abuse authority. Thus provisions
in some constitutions that empower representatives to direct
referendums are flawed. Referendums ordered in some countries by
dictators to legitimise their rule are illegal.
(b) The usual
procedure for referendums is that if a specified number of
citizenís petition for referendum on any issue, the
referendum becomes mandatory. This procedure is cumbersome,
and sometimes leads to referendums on flippant issues through
abuse by signature campaigns. It can also pose practical
problems were illiteracy is high.
Contemporary democracy needs at the national and state levels
a new institution "Sovereign Rights Commission" with
authority to direct referendums, except on issues fundamental
to democracy or the integrity of the nation. There can, for
example, be no referendum on making the state theocratic or a
region seceding. Such an institution shall oversee that the
sovereign rights of the people to information, consultation,
participation, and referendum are properly instituted and are
accessible to the people. Like Gandhi, It will function as a
non-corruptible conscience keeper of the state, based on
the values of the society as a whole, thus preventing
exploitation and promoting righteous conduct.
significant insertions, namely, (1) Dharma and universal values
of humanism, (2) Personal law through referendum within a
community, (3) Religious education at grassroots level, and (4)
Religious conversions to be non-exploitative, have been
introduced in Article 4.9 dealing with "Right to Freedom of
Religion". The provisions of this Part may be further
reviewed and refined in the light of observations of the Supreme
Court and the perceptions at the beginning of the third
All citizens of
India, irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex, place of
birth, or any of them, shall enjoy certain rights regarded
fundamental to democracy. These are right (1) to equality, (2)
to freedom, (3) against exploitation, (4) to freedom of
religion, (5) of culture and education, and (6) to
constitutional remedies. These are described in the Articles
Article 4.3 Right to Equality
Right to equality
covers (1) equality before law, (2) prohibition on
discrimination, (3) equality of opportunity in public
employment, (4) abolition of untouchability and titles; (5)
Freedom of Speech, Assembly, etc; and, Protection in respect of
conviction for offences
Article 4.31 Equality before
The state shall
not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal
protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 4.32 Prohibition on
The state shall
not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion,
race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
(1) No citizen
shall, on any of the aforesaid grounds, be subject to any
disability, liability, restriction, or condition with regard to
(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, and places of
public entertainment; or (b) use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats,
roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly
out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general
(2) Nothing in
this section shall prevent special provisions being made for
women and children or for socially or economically backward
class of people. The state shall also create an environment
wherein persons of any religion are not prevented from
entering places of worship of other religions.
Equality of opportunity in public employment
shall have equality of opportunity in matters relating to
employment or appointment to any office under the State. All
types of reservations for public employment in existence prior
to the commencement of this Constitution shall stand abolished.
colonial rule, public employment was considered prestigious, and
reservation used as a tool to divide the society. Enormously
increased under the present centralised polity and controlled
economy, public employment is still possibly less than one
percent of the population. Reservation in public employment
increases wasteful state overheads while hardly benefiting
backward communities as a whole.
public employment should be kept trim and public resources
deployed for generating employment opportunities outside the
state. Affirmative action in the form of (a) reservation for
backward communities in state educational institutions, and
scholarships in private institutions, and (2) other things being
equal, preference in professional and business contracts to
persons of backward communities, is provided in article 5.31.
Abolition of untouchability and titles
No citizen or
community can be treated as untouchable or socially ostracised
in any way. Subjecting a person to disability arising from
untouchability shall be an offence punishable under law.
The State shall
not confer any title, not being an academic or military
Freedom of speech, assembly, etc.
reasonable restrictions imposed through law in the interest of
sovereignty, integrity and security of India, public order,
decency or morality, all citizens shall have the right to: (1)
freedom of speech and expression, (2) peaceful assembly, (3)
form associations or unions, (4) freedom of movement, (5)
freedom of residence, and (6) freedom to practise any
profession, anywhere in India.
Protection in respect of conviction for offences
(1) No person
shall be convicted on any offence except for violation of a law
in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an
offence. He shall also not be subjected to a penalty greater
than what might have been inflicted under the law in force at
the time of commission of the offence.
(2) Every person
who is arrested or detained in custody shall be produced before
the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of
such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey from
the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate. Further, no
such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period
without the authority of a magistrate.
Nothing in the
above clauses shall apply to any person who (1) for the time
being is an enemy alien, or (2) is arrested or detained under
any law providing for preventive detention.
(3) No law
pertaining to preventative detention shall be promulgated unless
it has been concurred to by the National Human Rights
Commission, and shall remain in force only so long as such
concurrence is not withdrawn.
Article 4.4 Right
Right against exploitation covers
(1) Prohibition on traffic in human beings and forced labour,
(2) Prohibition on employment of children.
Prohibition on traffic in human beings and forced labour
Traffic in human
beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour
are prohibited. Any contravention of this provision shall be an
offence punishable under the law.
Nothing in this
Article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service
on payment of fair wages for public purpose. In imposing such
service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds
of religion, race, caste or class, or any of them.
Prohibition on employment of children
No child below
the age of sixteen years shall be employed to work, especially
in any factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment. The
state shall create an environment to facilitate through state
and private initiative adequate infrastructure to ensure that
every child has opportunity to education up to high school.
Article 4.5 Right
to freedom of religion
Right to freedom
of religion covers, (1) Freedom of conscience, and profession,
practice and propagation of religion, (2) Freedom to manage
religious affairs, (3) Freedom as to payment of taxes for
promotion of any particular religion; (4) Freedom to attend
religious instructions in certain educational institutions; (5)
Personal law through referendum within a community; (6)
Religious education and festivals at grassroots level; and (7)
Religious conversions to be non-exploitative.
Freedom of conscience
(1) Subject to
public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of
this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of
conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and
(2) Nothing in
this Article shall affect the operation of any existing law or
prevent the State from making any law: (a) regulating or
restricting any economic, financial, political or other
nonreligious activity which may be associated with religious
practise; (b) providing for social welfare and reforms, or
opening religious institutions to all sections of society.
Dharma and Universal Values of Humanism
Dharma is an
ancient philosophical concept of India. As propounded in various
scriptures, its attributes include characteristics such as
rationality, sense of duty, justice, peace, truthfulness,
compassion, nonviolence, rectitude, humanity, spirituality,
tolerance, ethics, service to others, and philanthropy.
According to Hindu tradition, sovereignty does not rest in the
state, but in dharma. Dharma is thus clearly universal values of
humanism and can form the basis of global ethics.
Hinduism is not a
religion but "dharma", that is, a way of life based on
universal values of humanism. Within Hinduism there are various
"panths" or religions. "Dharma" has been
often wrongly referred to as "religion" and
consequently "dharma-nirpeksh" understood as
"secularism". This has led to confusion in concepts.
"Dharma" is truly "universal values of
humanism", "panth" is "religion" and
"panth-nirpeksh" means "secularism". The
official translation for secular is panth-nirpeksh but the habit
of calling it dharma-nirpeksh persists.
Faiths such as
Hinduism and Bahai represent henotheism, that is, oneness of
various manifestations of the only super-consciousness. Most
tribal religions are polytheistic in that they believe in many
gods. Religions such as Christianity and Islam are monotheistic
in that they assert that there is only one god and one group of
prophets and treat followers of other faiths as nonbelievers.
Thus a Hindu naturally accepts Christ and Mohammed as
manifestations of god but Christians and Muslims have difficulty
in accepting other faiths and, at best, "tolerate"
them. Secularism to mean religious tolerance is a Western
concept. It conveys that other faiths are inferior and need to
be tolerated. It also sanctifies conversion of those perceived
to be "nonbeliever".
Social reformers such as Christ
and Mohammed themselves never claimed that they were the only
representatives of god. Self-seeking priesthood in most
religions with intent to establish its hegemony distorted the
universal values preached by all faiths, and divided society.
Hindu priesthood converted castes based on profession to castes based on
birth, placed itself on the top, made a section of society
untouchable, and introduced exploitative rituals and customs.
The Muslim priesthood sanctified four wives and till today
abuses religious dictats called fatwas. Both, Muslim and
Christian priesthood use fair and foul means to convert others
to their faith.
In the epic poem
Gita revered by many western scholars, the godhead Krishna says
that whenever injustice and exploitation becomes unbearable, I
will come again and again. He came as Christ, Mohammed, Sikh
gurus and other social reformers, and in the twentieth century
as Gandhi. Most of them were not accepted in their lifetime.
Today, the survival of society depends upon their preaching.
based on universal values of humanism asserts secularism with
total acceptance of all faiths whereas the western concept of
secularism is of mere tolerance . Faiths such as Hinduism
and Bahai are thus truly secular. The third millennium should
strive for such true secularism based on universal values of
Freedom to manage religious affairs
Subject to public
order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any
section thereof shall have the right to (a) establish and
maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b)
manage its own affairs in matters of religion; (c) own and
acquire movable and immovable property; and (d) administer such
property in accordance with law.
Freedom not to pay taxes for promoting any particular religion
No person shall
be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are
specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the
promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious
Freedom not to attend religious instructions
(1) No religious
instruction shall be provided in any educational institution
wholly maintained out of State funds.
(2) Nothing in
clause (1) shall apply to an educational institution that is
administered by the State but has been established under any
endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction
shall be imparted in such institution.
(3) No persons
attending any educational institution recognised by the state or
receiving aid out of state funds shall be required to take part
in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such
institution or to attend any religious worship that may be
conducted in such institutions unless such person or, if such
person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.
Religious education and festivals at grassroots level
governance, that is village and urban neighbourhood governments,
the grassroots assembly consisting of all adult men and women
constitutes the supreme authority. There is thus a confluence of
community and governance. If therefore the grassroots
parliament, in open assembly, resolves that in the village or
neighbourhood school certain classes in religion and
spirituality shall be held, certain religious festivals will be
arranged, and that participation in them will be optional, it
shall not be treated as a violation of secularism.
In case of a
dispute, it shall be referred to the council of stakeholders at
the subdistrict and finally at the district level whose decision
shall be final. The state and national governments shall have no
jurisdiction over social issues.
Personal laws through in-community referendum
The personal laws of any
community are not a religious but a social matter and should be
based on contemporary perceptions of society. However, since
sentiments are associated with such laws, they should be
sanctified not by priesthood but validated through referendum
within each community. Contemporary thinking is that women
should have equal inheritance rights as men, a person can have
only one spouse, and divorce by consent or decree should be
permissible. These are opposed by high priests of some
communities. In such cases, personal law based on contemporary
thinking versus customary personal law should be referred for
decision through referendum within the community, and the
verdict of the referendum declared the personal law. Well
meaning senior citizens and most women will clearly vote in
favour of contemporary values.