IOS Latest Publication “Equality, Justice and Fraternity in Contemporary India” Released

IOS Latest Publication “Equality, Justice and Fraternity in Contemporary India” Released 

New Delhi: “Equality, Justice and Fraternity in Contemporary India”, a book edited by Prof. Md. Zafar Mahfooz Nomani, Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, was released by Prof. Eqbal Husain, Dean, Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia, at a function organised by the Institute of Objective Studies on November 12, 2022.

Presided over by Prof. Z.M. Khan, Secretary-General, IOS, the proceedings of the function began with the recitation of a Quranic verse by Hafiz Athar Husain Nadwi with its Urdu translation.

Conducting the proceedings, the assistant secretary-general of the IOS, Prof. Haseena Hashia, briefly highlighted the characteristics of the book. Referring to the editor of the book, she said that he is a researcher and a teacher of law with expertise in environmental law. He studied the impact of economic zones on the environment and farmers. He wrote several books and contributed several articles in various national and international journals, she added.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Md. Zafar Mahfooz Nomani said that the book was the outcome of the commitment of IOS to constitutionalism and constitutional morality. Commenting on the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, he said that in the Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala case, the Supreme Court of India outlined that the basic structure of the Constitution could not be changed. The case was decided on April 24, 1973. In Golaknath v. State of Punjab, which was decided by the apex court in 1967, the Court ruled that the Parliament could not curtail any of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Thus, the basic features of the Constitution could not be altered. He observed that the period between 1973 to 1990 was marked by judicial activism during which issues like the right to livelihood and Panchayati Raj were debated, discussed and decided. He said that under Article 45 of the Constitution, compulsory education became a fundamental right. The Supreme Court was reeling under a feeling that the country must have constitutionalism and constitutional morality.

Prof. Nomani held that the establishment of an egalitarian society was envisioned by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The dream of the creation of a classless society was yet to be realized. The issue of EWS was being debated, and it was open to the Supreme Court to interpret who a minority was. Reports of the diversity and equal opportunities commissions were waiting for implementation. He questioned why a few sections were lacking behind others in terms of development. He also asked why the aid was not reaching certain sections. He commented that equality in social and economic terms was a part of the Preamble to the Constitution. Similarly, according to Dr. Ambedkar, fraternity was most important, adding that equality and liberty were useless without fraternity. The executive was duty-bound to read and implement the provisions of the Constitution, he concluded.

Speaking as the chief guest, Prof. Eqbal Husain said that the title of the book was based on the topic of the two-day national conference organized by the Institute of Objective Studies in Kolkata on April 22-23, 2017. Thus the book was a compilation of papers presented at the conference. He observed that equality, justice and fraternity were taken from the Preamble to the Constitution. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had moved a resolution in the Constituent Assembly to include fraternity and justice–social and political. Talking about the Preamble, he said that it was a pious agreement, and its utility was explained in several judgments of the Supreme Court. The Preamble also enunciated the nature and mode of governance. Governance should also be democratic from a social point of view. The Preamble pointed out that economic justice should be ensured. He observed that the Constitution ensured political and social democracy. He pointed out that liberty could not be divorced from fraternity. Economic and social justice was included in the Preamble, which formed a basis for a reservation to economically backward sections. He explained the meaning of liberty and the idea of a secular state. He said that equality could not be ensured without the dignity of an individual. The Constitution ensured fair play, and thus, the spirit of it should be maintained, he stressed.

Prof. Z.M. Khan, Secretary-General, IOS, observed that understanding things from a proper perspective is a big challenge today. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was very anxious when the Constitution was drafted. Several things remained in order, but for some time now, the Hindutva ideology diametrically put itself against the spirit and intent of the Constitution. This was so because it believed in a Hinduism-graded society, which had no place in a democratic set-up where every citizen enjoyed the right to freedom of religion. In a democratic political system, it was the duty of the state to ensure that the ultra-religious groups and their activities were put under check. He said that for some time now, India has been witnessing the emergence of the Hindutva ideology, which threatened to develop into majoritarianism. This tendency could lead to dictatorship, which the framers of the Constitution never imagined. He observed that democracy was a commitment to the people to be treated equally. The present situation was tragic because of the plot hatched by the British colonial rulers to keep the pot of bigotry boiling. Referring to Deen, he said how one could know about the world if he had poor knowledge of it. He commented that the madrasas acquired huge properties and presided over them. Friction was bound to exacerbate if society, politics and economics were mixed up. He urged that the true spirit of Islam should be revived. He further asked the Muslims to come forward and work hard.

While extending a vote of thanks, Prof. Haseena Hashia paid rich tributes to the noted scholar of Islamic economics and finance, Dr. Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui, who died in the USA recently. She read out Dr. M. Manzoor Alam’s condolence message on the demise of Dr. Siddiqui. Dua for the maghfirah of Dr. Siddiqui was made.


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