Dwelling on constitutional provisions and case law, advocate representing Christians M.P. Naronha made a strong case for enforcing citizens’ duty to promote brotherhood among people belonging to different religions. He made an emotional appeal to bring about a change where people belonging to different religions could pray under one roof.
Mr. Naronha was presenting his arguments before the Justice. B.K. Somasekhara Commission, which is inquiring into attacks on places of worship in Dakshina Kannada and other areas, here on Friday.
Pointing out that Article 51 E of the Constitution made it obligatory for people to promote brotherhood, he charged the Government with failing to enforce it. He said that this was the need of the hour because the failure to do so had given scope for various organisations to indulge in acts that were against the spirit of this provision.
He said the Supreme Court had pointed out in the 2004 case involving Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia that the Government had failed to take action against acts of provoking people of one community against another community.
The trend of provocative speakers spoiling young minds was on the rise, he said. So much so that one would want a secular bureau of investigation set up to prevent this. On the other hand, there was a need for a separate intelligence bureau to gather information against disruptive activities.
Maintaining that every stone thrown on a place of worship was like hitting the very base of the Constitution, he lamented that the State machinery had failed to do its duty in preventing such acts. He suggested that the superintendents of police and deputy commissioners of districts should be made personally liable for any damage in such attacks.
On the failure to provide compensation, he referred to a Kerala High Court judgment in 1990 which ruled that compensation had to be paid whether negligence of the State machinery was established or not. It clearly stated that the Government could not say that it had no control over communal incidents.
Mr. Naronha said that the Madras High Court, on the other hand, had held that law and order was the primary duty of the State in a case relating to a attack on a person belonging to the Sikh community in the aftermath of the assassination of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It also said that compensation was not a “beggary amount” and that it is not a charity but a right of individuals.
When the Government advocate L.N. Hegde sought to give an explanation, Mr. Justice Somasekhara intervened to point out that the “bowl was still empty”, to suggest that compensation had not yet reached the people more than a year after the attacks.
Mr. Naronha said that people could not take the law into their own hands even if there was a forced conversion. He said the police should act swiftly to control those who take law into their own hands and at no point could they take shelter under the plea that conversions had caused it. The arguments offered by police that there was no law to book a case against conversions was unsustainable, he argued.
When Mr. Naronha sought an end to the negative role being played by the media, Mr. Justice Somasekhara said there should be a legislation to end this on a permanent basis or there should be censorship.