“Dr. Ambedkar” is celebrated in India on 14 April. A day before, i.e., on 13 April, was Justice O. Chinnappa’s Vardhanti 10 years ago. Chinnappa Reddy used to praise Ambedkar who championed social welfare and general equality and advocated concrete land reforms. Chinnappa Reddy explained how Reservations were in reality superficial and could not touch the problem at its roots. He illustrated how Ambedkar was shaken by the prospect of the contradictions in the Constitution itself subverting, cutting the tumours of inequality and sowing the seeds for its resurgence. He said:
“A few seats in professional colleges or a few jobs in government service would never solve the genuine problems. Even after 42 years of the existence of the Constitution there was no radical transformation in the lives of the schedule castes. The upper castes have launched a vendetta against reservations, claiming that it has given a crippling blow to efficiency, merit and excellence”.
Justice Reddy is a highly educated personality. He studied at London Mission High School, Gooty, Madras Loyola College and Madras Law College. He enrolled in the Madras High Court in 1944 and practiced in the AP High Court. He was a very noted lawyer in civil and criminal laws. He was a public prosecutor in 1960 before he became a judge of the AP High Court in 1967 and transferred back from Punjab and Haryana as judge of the AP High Court in 1977. Justice Reddy became a judge of the Supreme Court in 1978. He penned great judgements for more than a decade, was admired for his many pro-active judgments, and delivered several remarkable judgments on human rights. In 1987, Justice Reddy became chairman of the Karnataka BC commission. He authored the book “The Court and the Constitution of India: Summits and Shallows.”
Ambekar formulated division of land into farms of standardised sizes and building of collective farms by village groups formed without distinction of caste with the produce shared by them and non-existence of landlords, tenants and landless labourers. However, Ambedkar did not adhere to abolish private enterprise and permitted it to a limited extent. A writer, Harsh Thakor, on 25 September 2022, pointed out from articles of Chinnappa Reddy: “Rarely has there been a judge who so relentlessly challenged capitalist values, religious fundamentalism and unscientific values, at their very hardest point. His life was an illustration of flashing the scared beacon of social justice. Tooth and nail he posed challenge to any infringement of the constitution in defacing a Socialist, secular democracy.”
Reddy illustrated how Ambedkar was shaken by the prospect of contradictions in the Constitution itself subverting, cutting the tumours of inequality and sowing the seeds for its resurgence. Ambedkar highlighted how a rural elite has replaced the Zamindars and planted themselves very firmly in the ground, preventing them parting from the smallest morsel of their land to those in need of it.
Reddy narrated how Reservations were in reality superficial and could not touch the problem at its roots. A few seats in professional colleges or a few jobs in government service would never solve the genuine problems. Even after 42 years of the existence of the Constitution, there was no radical transformation in the lives of the schedule castes. The upper castes have launched a vendetta against reservations, claiming that it has given a crippling blow to efficiency, merit and excellence.
Reddy analysed that merely securing good marks is not a criterion of a good administrator but possessing to comprehend with sympathy and bravely deal with the problems of deprived people.
Significant role of Ambedkar
In December 1992, Chinnappa Reddy spoke about how Ambedkar championed social welfare and general equality. Advocating concrete land reforms, Ambedkar advocated that key industries should be owned and run by the state and non-key industries should be owned by state or corporations owned by the state. He praised the role of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Insurance should also be a monopoly of the state. Ambedkar formulated division of land into farms of standardised sizes and building of collective farms by village groups formed without distinction of caste and with the produce shared by them and non-existence of landlords, tenants and landless labourers. However, Ambedkar did not adhere to abolish private enterprise and permitted it to a limited extent incorporating it within state socialism.
Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy
It was a very serious issue of three young children belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses (A sect of Christianity). The students refused to sing the National Anthem “Jana Gana Mana…” They did not join in the singing of the National Anthem in the morning assembly. But they did stand respectfully when the National Anthem was being sung. This resulted in them being expelled from school. The students were pleading that the tenets of their faith did not permit them to praise anyone other than their God.
Justice Chinnappa Reddy, in a remarkably lucid judgement, held that, “The expulsion of the three children from the school for the reason that because of their conscientiously held religious faith, they do not join in the singing of the National Anthem in the morning assembly though they do stand respectfully when the National Anthem is sung, is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of conscience, and to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.”
This significant judgement called “the Bijoe Emmanuel (AIR 1987 SC 748https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1508089/) judgment” upholding the freedom of press and the right to practise and propagate one’s religion. “Article 25 [right to practise and propogate your religion] is an article of faith in the Constitution, incorporated in recognition of the principle that the real test of a true democracy is the ability of even an insignificant minority to find its identity under the country’s Constitution. This has to be borne in mind in interpreting Art. 25.”
Karnataka Hijab case goes to SC
On July 2021, Government Pre-University (PU) college in Udupi issued guidelines for the academic year prescribing a uniform code. Since September 2021, students were not allowed entry into classrooms citing hijabs. In the 2021 problem from Karnataka High Court, the Karnataka state issued an order and followed prescribed uniforms in government colleges. In February, the High Court passed an interim order prohibiting students from wearing religious clothing till the matter was decided. In October 2022, the government moved the Supreme Court which delivers a split verdict, directs placing appeals against HC order before Chief Justice of India for the constitution of a larger Bench.
Meanwhile, the students move the Supreme Court and the High Court against the college’s guidelines, and in March, the HC ruled that the hijab was not an intrinsic part of Islam and upheld the state government order. In February, fresh pleas in HC seeks nod to wear hijabs in educational institutes during Ramzan. In September, the matter in Supreme Court was reserved.
There are divergent views before courts, Assembly, societies, and streets. High Court judge Hemant Gupta says: “Secularism is applicable to all citizens, therefore, permitting one…community to wear their religious symbols would antithesis to secularism…Religion has no meaning in a secular school run by the state and students are free to profess their religion and carryout religious activities other than when they’re attending a classroom…Uniform fosters a sense of ‘equality’ amongst students-instils a sense of oneness, diminishes individual differences…”
While Justice Subhanshu Dhulia says: “Wearing hijab should be simply a matter of choice. It may or may not be a matter of essential religious practice but it still is a matter of conscience, belief, expression…Though discipline is required in educational institutions, they can’t be put on par with a jail or a military camp, as was cited by HC while describing schools as “qualified public spaces”…If it is worn as a matter of her choice, as it may be the only way her conservative family will permit her to go to school…her hijab is her ticket to education.”
The result was that after banning the hijab, around 17,000 first-generation students opted out of schools. The Opposition Congress claimed that such government had succeeded in its plans to not educated these girls.
The Champions of Flag Patriotism
The Flag Code is merely a regulating code to protect the honour and grandeur of the Indian National Flag and to prohibit its contempt and disregard. The code is not a statute and thus if a person is punished under this code, he is not criminally liable but only booked for violating the code. The Flag Code of India came into force on 26 January 2002, superseding ‘The Flag Code India’ as existed then. The code is divided into three parts: (a) The first part describes the general description of the National Flag (b) The second part prescribes the display of the National Flag by various organisations and educational institutions whether private or public (c) The third part prescribes the display or hoisting of the National Flag by the Central and state government or their organisations or agencies.
The Prevention of Insults to National Symbols Amendment Act 2003 and the Prohibition of Improper Use Act 2005 are statutory laws and if a person commits an offence under these laws he shall be liable for the same as prescribed under the statutes.
Patriotism or Criminality?
The term patriotism was defined in this case. It was stated that “Patriotism is not determined by a gross physical act. The intention behind the act will be the true test, and it is possible that sometimes the very act itself manifests the intention behind it. In the present case, even if the entire set of facts stated in the complaint are taken as it is, it must be seen as to what would have been the actual feeling with which the participants would have dispersed after the function was over. In this case, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/108462359/ Madras High Court A. Senthilkumar vs The Inspector Of Police a complaint was filed where a cake was cut having the picture of the National Flag upon it which was alleged to have violated the Flag Code. The Magistrate a FIR was appealed to the High Court by the police. The High Court held that the true test is the intention to disregard or insult the National Flag.
In another case, VK Naswa vs Home Secretary, Uoi and Ors on 9 January 2012 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/175911066/ the court held that there was absolutely no mandate in the Flag Code of India which prescribes the hoisting of the National Flag on all days on the public buildings. Similarly, in a case there was a punishment Gaurishankar Garg & another v. the State of Madhya Pradesh (2020) https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/61573fcc9fca196fbc101d0f.
When the petitioners were punished under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 2003 he was alleged flying the National Flag between sunset and sunrise. It was a case of forgetfulness but not criminal wrong. The court held that the hoisting of the flag during the said period may be out of forgetfulness or misconduct but it does not amount to an offence unless it is specified under the Flag Code of India. The Flag Code is not a law according to Article 13(1) and is only an executive instruction by the government.
Ministry’s fight with ‘Tiranga’
In case of Viacom 18 Media Private Limited vs Union of India on 18 January, 2018 https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5dcd41da46571b7a2b3a6995 is about a dispute TV channel which was earlier named ‘Harvest TV’ but later change as Tiranga TV. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was not rejected this proposal on the grounds that it violates the Prevention of Improper Use Act 2003. The Ministry’s case was quashed by the tribunal, (https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2019/07/13/tdsat-veecon-permitted-the-use-of-name-and-logo-of-tiranga-tv-without-the-colours-saffron-and-green/) holding that the word ‘Tiranga’ without the colours of the National Flag does not amount to a violation under the concerned Act; moreover, the word Tiranga was not initially included in the schedule of the emblem Act. It does not amount to a colourful imitation of the National Flag under the Prevention of Improper Use Act, 2003. This is an important judgment in the case in Media law.
There is another addition: In this case, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/108462359/ Madras High Court A. Senthilkumar vs The Inspector Of Police (Cr. O.P. No. 15656 of 2020) a complaint was filed where a cake was cut having the picture of the National Flag upon it which was alleged to have violated the Flag Code. The Magistrate a FIR was appealed to the High Court by the police. The High Court held that the true test is the intention to disregard or insult the National Flag. (https://theleaflet.in/breaking-down-the-law-governing-usage-of-indias-national-flag/)