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Has Tharoor forgotten the damage done to the constitution by the Congress Party?

The Congress party’s blue-eyed boy Shashi Tharoor recently told the media that BJP was planning a major assault on the constitution once it gets a 2/3rd majority in both houses of the parliament.

“I think a lot of their real agenda is waiting for the time when they have both Houses under their control. And once they do, I think you can certainly look to a major assault on the Constitution. Then the question is, will the Supreme Court stand by the basic structure doctrine and interpret it to include these principles of equality, freedom of religion, freedom of worship, non-discrimination, etc., which would make it impossible to reduce the Constitution to the document of a religiously-derived majoritarianism,” Mr Tharoor told IANS in an interview.

However, India has forgotten the huge damage done to the constitution by the Congress party under the leadership of Indira Gandhi during the emergency years. This is not a surprise since Congress controlled media has managed to wash off the ugly stories of the emergency era from public memory.

The 42nd Amendment gave unlimited powers to Parliament regarding constitutional amendments

42nd amendment (1976) enacted by Congress party is one of the most comprehensive and ruthless attacks on the Constitution of India. It changed the balance of power between judiciary, parliament and executive that was carefully inserted into the constitution by the founding fathers of India. In 1976, Indira Gandhi had 2/3rd majority in Lok Sabha and many opposition leaders were in jail. As a result of this, she was able to push through the atrocious 42nd amendment. (INC seats in Lok Sabha – 352, Rajya Sabha – 72)

Parliament is allowed to amend the constitution as per norms mentioned the article 368 of the constitution. The judiciary, under Article 32 has powers to outlaw any law (including constitutional amendments) void and null if it is in violation of fundamental rights of people (under Article 32).

However, the Congress party, led by Indira Gandhi took away this power from the judiciary entirely. This would ensure that any change done to the constitution by the parliament led by her would not be examined by the courts. It is perhaps the most atrocious attack on the constitution. The text of 42nd amendment says (emphasis added)

55. Amendment of article 368.- In article 368 of the Constitution, after clause (3), the following clauses shall be inserted, namely:-

“(4) No amendment of this Constitution (including the provisions of Part III) made or purporting to have been made under this article whether before or after the commencement of section 55 of the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976] shall be called in question in any court on any ground.

(5) For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that there shall be no limitation whatever on the constituent power of Parliament to amend by way of addition, variation or repeal the provisions of this Constitution under this article.”

Term of Parliament extended to suit Congress party’s needs

The 42nd amendment also extended the term of all assemblies and Lok Sabha from 5 years to 6 years to ensure that she would have more time to stay in power if elected to office after the emergency. This is also a significant amendment since the opposition was weak and many of its leaders had been jailed under the emergency. The political calculation of this move cannot be ignored. The 42nd amendment said (emphasis added) :

17. Amendment of article 83.-(1) In article 83 of the Constitution, in clause (2), for the words “five years” in the two places where they occur, the words “six years” shall be substituted.

30. Amendment of article 172.-(1) In article 172 of the Constitution, in clause (1), for the words “five years” in the two places where they occur, the words “six years” shall be substituted.

Powers of the states diminished by moving subjects to concurrent list

The powers of states and central government are distributed as state, central and concurrent lists as per the seventh schedule of the constitution. The centre has complete control over subjects listed in its list and an upper hand in the concurrent list. The states have complete control over subjects listed in the state list. The 42nd amendment moved five subjects from state to concurrent list thereby reducing the powers of the state as decided by the makers of the constitution. These five subjects were :

  • Education
  • Forests
  • Protection of wild animals and birds
  • Weights and measures
  • Administration of justice (excluding Supreme court and High courts)

Congress has done maximum damage to Constitution in the history of India

If we analyse the journey of India so far and try to find a party that did the most damage to constitution and civil liberties and constitution in Indian history, we will find that the party is Indian National Congress. Thus, the Congress party and Shashi Tharoor must introspect on the damage done to the constitution by its own leader rather than creating fear among the people regarding the ‘changes’ constitution that will be brought into the constitution by the BJP if it gets a 2/3rd majority necessary to push through most of the constitutional amendments.

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