By Guddugurki Anju Rao
A laid back layman perhaps thinks of lawyers as mere decoders of complicated laws and employers of its knowledge to win cases, or pronounce a judgement or two. He finds it good for his society, something he is mostly not circumspect about himself. This lay man needs to come across not just knowers, but imbibers of the law of the land to believe the years of hard work that can yield him profusion of confidence. In this regard, Mr. Harish is one such passionate imbiber who pours life to the phrase: you need to see it to believe it.
Reading out the Preamble to the Indian Constitution word to word from his mind’s eye, Mr. Harish left the Political Action Interns stunned to the point of realisation that there is a lot to learn. Explaining key concepts in and around the Constitution of India, Mr. Harish made the latter seem the most comprehensible object of study. A repository of accurate knowledge, he disseminated myriad historical and legal facts to the interns defending the lengthiest constitution in the world, here on Friday.
Did You Know? Factual Basis a Must
1. Every law must have its basis in the constitution, making the latter the mother of all laws.
2. The preliminary draft of the Indian constitution was written by B.N Rau, the Mother of the Indian Constitution, much before Dr. B.R Ambedkar’s draft committee was set up. B.N Rau was the legal advisor to the Constituent Assembly and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from British India.
3. Chronologically, the Indian Constitution was completed in letter and spirit on 26th November, 1949, but officially released on 26th January, 1950, to coincide with the date of its foundation traced to 26th January, 1929.
4. In terms of historical objectives and core values written in the Indian Preamble, India is Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic with ideas of democracy like Equality, Liberty, Fraternity and Justice imbibed.
5. Going by strict numbers, the Constitution has 395 articles which exclude sub-articles and schedules that otherwise sum up to 445. It has seen 110 amendments in effect.
6. The Indian Constitution is federal in structure but unitary in spirit. This explains the presence of various state governments yet the concept of a single apex court. The Indian government has separate lists for functional prerogatives: Union list, State list and Concurrent list, as extensions of the three forms of government – the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.
7. The State of Jammu and Kashmir, though geographically in India, enjoys a separate constitutional framework (special status) under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
8. Fundamental rights have reasonable restrictions and exceptions. Right to Equality (articles 14-18) of peaceful gathering without arms has an exception for Sikhs whose cultural history permits them to carry daggers collectively. The right to settle anywhere in the country has exceptions in Jammu & Kashmir as a non-local cannot buy property there.
9. Speaking of criminal law, Expost facto laws (Ex : Pre, Post: Post and Facto : Factual basis) under article 20 (1) in the constitution are :
9.a. An individual can only be tried under laws prevalent during the commission of crime i.e. laws are not retrospective in nature.
9.b. If an individual pleads ignorance of law, then excuse may be granted.
9.c. No person can be convicted twice for the same crime.
10. Self-incriminating evidence is punishable by law in purview of misleading the courts.
11. Retrospection is only possible in civil law. For example, Karnataka Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978.
12. Indian law allows passive euthanasia (reference: the Aruna Shanbhag case). Active euthanasia, even in brain dead cases, is not legal.
13. In relation to the Indian Political system, volunteering for poll duty during elections is a fundamental duty of the citizens of India.
14. If public authorities violate fundamental rights of a citizen of India, the constitution provides for the filing of writ petitions which include Habeas Corpus (producing the body of a missing person), Mandamus (A directional mandate or order), Prohibition (to prohibitory orders to stop an act), Quo Warranto (demanding show of authority) and Certiorari (wrongful prerogative of a lower court over a high one).
15. Article 39 of the Indian Constitution provides for free legal aide to anyone who wishes to move a court on a dispute or crime.
In addition, Mr. Harish revealed the nuances that these details disguise, rendering the interns capable of critical thinking. “All you need to serve the judiciary are the provisions of law, common sense and presence of mind,” he said, while he left the studio citing a vast body of books that the interns could refer to, student editions magnified. A buzz of consensus in the air followed : There is indeed a lot to learn.