Tamil Nadu

‘BJP wrecking Constitution through the backdoor’

Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram in conversation with N. Ram, Chairman, THG Publishing Pvt. Ltd. B. Jothi Ramalingam

Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram in conversation with N. Ram, Chairman, THG Publishing Pvt. Ltd. B. Jothi Ramalingam   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Party would have amended Constitution if it had two-thirds majority: Chidambaram

Accusing the Centre of wrecking the Constitution by introducing an “insidious provision” of religion for acquiring citizenship, Congress leader and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said the BJP government would have amended the Constitution if it had a two-thirds majority.

“Thank God. You don’t give them the two-third majority. If they have, they would not make an amendment law but would have amended the Constitution. They are wrecking the Constitution through the backdoor,” he said during a conversation with N. Ram, Chairman, THG Publishing Private Limited, on the subject, ‘The Current National Situation: Where are we headed?’

The discussion was organised by the Chennai International Centre.

Mr. Chidambaram said he knew of no provision of the Constitution which directly introduced the principles of religion as a consideration for something or other.

“Tomorrow, they may introduce religion as a consideration for electability, holding a Constitutional office and anything. They may even go to the absurdity of making it [a consideration] for holding a ration card,” he quipped.

Pointing out that elected representatives were, before drafting a law, obliged to ask themselves whether they were making it Constitutionally valid, Mr. Chidambaram said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill [now an Act] was a clear case of elected representatives abdicating their responsibility.

Fundamental change

He wondered whether a Bill of this nature, which will completely change the face of citizenship after 70 years, and will change the fundamental basis of citizenship from territoriality to religion, could be passed without reflecting on its Constitutional validity.

“So you are abdicating your responsibility in favour of judges. I am both a Parliamentarian and a lawyer. You don’t respect my view as a Parliamentarian. I have no option but to go before another forum as a lawyer,” he said when responding to Mr. Ram’s question on whether the issue was being dropped on judges’ laps.

Mr. Chidambaram said there were so many infirmities in the Bill that he and legal experts like Soli Sorabjee and retired judges like Madan Lokur and Santhosh Hegde felt it was unconstitutional.

He said the weighty argument would be that it was against the constitutional morality developed as a doctrine by the Supreme Court in many cases, particularly the Aadhaar case, the Puttasamy case and the Delhi government Vs the Lieutenant General case.

Describing as absurd the “permutation and combination of three countries and six communities” used by the government, he noted that while Hindus were included, Sri Lankan Hindus were excluded.

“Christians are included, but Bhutanese Christians are excluded. In Assam alone, 19 lakh people have been identified as illegal migrants, because they came out with the story which was rejected. Today, the man has to tell a different story, that he belonged to one of these countries and was religiously persecuted. He would say ‘declare me [sic] that I am not an illegal migrant’. Which story is true and which story is a lie?” he asked.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:36:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bjp-wrecking-constitution-through-the-backdoor/article30324417.ece

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