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Constitution of India is Not Available Free to the Citizens

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IndiaCSR News Network

RAIPUR: Citizens of the India do not have access to the free copy of its Constitution and it is also not easily being made available by the Government. If someone wants to read it, he/she needs to travel to the national capital New Delhi, where its copies are available with 2 government offices or departments for public sale. The government is also not frequently publishing copies of Constitution of India in large numbers.

This surprising revelation came in light from an official letter and RTI response of Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, New Delhi received by Rusen Kumar, a resident of Raigarh (Chhattisgarh). Rusen Kumar had written a request letter to the ministry with spirit, the Government should provide him a free copy of the Constitution, as he is a citizen of the country. The copies of letter was also sent to the President, Chief Justice and Minister for the Law and Justice.

The reply said, the Constitution is not available free of cost. Letter number-file no.7(1)/2014-updated/dated 16.12.2014 of the department of Law under the Ministry of Law and Justice, Govt. of India says that the copies of Constitution of India are available with a selling price, which can be obtained from the Controller-Publications, Govt. of India, Civil Lines, New Delhi and Law Literature Publication (Department of Law), Ministry of Law and Justice, ILI Building, Bhagwan Das Road, New Delhi.

Rusen Kumar informed, “I wanted to read the Constitution. For the 3-4 months he visited various book shops in several towns to buy an original copy of the Constitution, but to my dismay it was not available there. Then I wrote a letter to the concerned ministry to know the availability and process to have a copy of it. With the spirit that the Government should provide me a free copy of the Constitution, as I am a citizen of the country, I wrote a request letter once again to same concerned ministry.”

Rusen Kumar says, “He is a resident of Raigarh in the state of Chhattisgarh and he had to visit New Delhi to buy an original copy of the Constitution. As a common man, if one has to travel 1600 kilometer distance to get the Constitution of India, it is practically not viable. It is very much disappointing that if someone has to wait for 2-3 months, visit one to another town and has to write a request letter to the Govt. to know the process of buying or availing a copy of his Constitution.”

Under the Fundamental Duties, Article 51 (A) of Constitution instructs, “It shall be duty of every citizen of India- to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;”

Rusen Kumar said, “Since the Constitution contains the rights of citizens and also State is governed in the light of the Constitution, people should have enough knowledge of Constitution. The Constitution can only be followed, if a copy of it is being made mandatorily available to citizens, so that one can go through again and again to understand their rights and duties and act accordingly, so that our country can achieve the new levels and spirits of a true democratic State.”

He said, “It is the duty of an individual to read the Constitution. And he has a right to avail a copy of his Constitution. It is Govt.’s duty to mandatorily provide a copy the Constitution. That’s why, Govt. should develop a nationwide system that insures citizen free access to a copy of the Constitution.”

Referring to his RTI response, he raised a relevant question stating that Constitution is neither being published frequently nor enough number is being printed by Govt.

Referring to RTI letter no. 1/21/2015-RTI –Department of Law under Ministry of Law and Justice, in the year 2010, 8180 copies of Constitution in A-4 size (bilingual-Hindi & English) was published. In 2011, 13180 copies of Constitution in pocket size (bilingual-Hindi & English) was published. In the year 2012-13, there was no publication. In the year, 2014, 12180 copies of Constitution in pocket size (bilingual-Hindi & English) was ordered but only 2000 number of copies was printed. Further the printing has been delayed.

Letter says that during the year 2010-2014, 10900 bilingual (Hindi & English) copies of Constitution were sold and Rs.18,75,989 were collected. Govt. has no information about the publication of the Constitution of India in other languages except Hindi and English.

Rusen Kumar said the sales data reveals the reach of Constitution is limited to few people only, which is a serious matter of introspection and concern for the democratic country like ours. It is clear that people are not being made aware about availability of Constitution. So there is a need to develop awareness in this concern.

Not only this, Govt. is also not serious to publish the Constitution in other listed languages frequently. As per RTI response, other than English the Constitution of India is available in only 16 Indian languages i.e. Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu, in spite of  fact Eighth Schedule of the Constitution has 22 listed Indian languages.

Manipuri was listed in the year 1992; Bodo, Maithili, and Santhali was included in Eighth Schedule in the year 2004. A decade has passed since Dongri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri and Santhali were listed, but the copies of Constitution of India is not available in these languages also.

(Rusen Kumar is the founder and managing editor of India CSR News Network. He can be reached at rusenk@indiacsr.in)

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