Read and Unread of the Constitution By Kanak Tiwari

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The Constitution of a country flows like a river or even like blood in veins. It is an environment for him. The bureaucratic bungling and executive misadventure cause as if its rupture like that of the ozone layer in the skies. Constitution is no envelope. It is the basic letter written not by ink but by blood and sweat of a struggling nation. It is synonymous to existence of every Indian. The amount of huge funds spent on the propagation of the personal images of the ministers and others if could be minimized very cheap copies of the constitution could be made available to the people within their reach.

By Kanak Tiwari

This article is necessitated due to igniting response of a citizen of Raigarh to the Constitution of India purely due to inquisitiveness. Rusen Kumar for several months was anxious to read the Constitution to know about its postulates more especially about fundamental rights and the duties of a citizen. He curiously also wanted to be thrilled by merely touching the copy of the sacred book if officially printed in turn while turning its pages. He nursed a mistaken belief that the Constitution like other governmental publications would be a free gift to its citizens at least to those who may request for it.

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This average though conscious citizen is aware of that several speeches of the president of India, the prime minister, the chief ministers and various other constitutional functionaries are printed, may be in millions of copies, to be freely circulated although the people usually do not read them for obvious reasons. He sent request letter to various authorities including the law ministry of Government of India. He was plainly told that the Constitution was not a gift item and could be purchased from counters of the publications division at a fixed price.

The story of the efforts further continued. The citizen enquired about the details of publication of the sacred book. He was informed that not many copies so far have been published. All told the published copies ran in less than 25000 numbers in all in bilingual edition of Hindi and English.

A pocket edition of bilingual book was sought to be published in about 12180 copies, but only 2000 copies could be printed in 2014. To the dismay of the Raigarh citizen he was further informed that no copies of the Constitution have been published in some official languages which are contained in the 8th Schedule. Copies are not available in Bodo, Maithili and Santhali which were included in the 8th Schedule in the year 2004, nor in Manipuri which was enlisted in 1992.

No copies are available in Dongri and Kashmiri also. The Government of India is not aware of the fact if any State Government has published it in its official language included for the State.

As a matter of fact in the golden jubilee year of the Constitution around 1000 replica copies of the original version were published. Those were circulated among the members of parliament and some other prominent citizens by the then government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Many law universities and high court libraries also do not possess that precious repeat.

It was Vajpayee government which under controversial circumstances went ahead for revisiting the Constitution seeking to appoint a commission. After huge protests the venture was limited by appointment of a committee of about 15 eminent persons headed by former chief justice of India M.N. Venkatchallaiah.

The four volume report of the committee published by Government of India would cost Rs. 2000.00. An ordinary citizen would not spend that amount for a report which is put in cold storage by the government itself like many other committee reports.

Raigarh citizen is not right in saying that he could not get the constitution in many book stores. Several private publishers are selling out costly copies primarily to lawyers, law institutions and the courts. It is a rich enterprise because of quick amendments made every year to ensure sale of amended editions on enhanced price.

A journalist friend was kind enough to send me entire correspondence of Rusen Kumar with the Government of India along with his note lamenting that the people of India would not know even the basic postulates in the mother tongue either without any cost or may be at subsidized price otherwise expected of them as their fundamental duty.

The Constitution as also the constitution assembly debates among other legal literature should be freely made available on the Government India website. As a matter of fact the Supreme Court and the High Court judgments should also be freely and readily made available to the people free of cost at least on the internet. The so called right to information would be meaningless to the people if they do not possess the knowledge about the mother document.

The opening lines of the Constitution proclaim that we the people of India have given our constitution to ourselves. What they have given if they do not know the bare text of it? How can the caravan of the country march if it is not acquainted with the leading thoughts of its predecessors who brought freedom followed by the Constitution for them? Why should the Constitution be a fiefdom of the judges and the lawyers only who interpret the law even for the common man after he has spent huge amount of money in litigation.

The Constitution of a country flows like a river or even like blood in veins. It is an environment for him. The bureaucratic bungling and executive misadventure cause as if its rupture like that of the ozone layer in the skies. Constitution is no envelope.

It is the basic letter written not by ink but by blood and sweat of a struggling nation. It is synonymous to existence of every Indian. The amount of huge funds spent on the propagation of the personal images of the ministers and others if could be minimized very cheap copies of the constitution could be made available to the people within their reach.

Due to lack of constitutional education to the legislators they at times create ugly scenes not befitting the status of the educated people who are broadly being used by the big business as their spokespersons or agents of interest. Sometimes even in the academic institutions the students are taught several overruled, belated and nonexistent provisions by the professors in turn themselves are uninformed. A question posed due to curiosity arisen in a citizen is a phenomenon worth respect and concern.

[This Article By Kanak Tiwari first appeared with The Hitavada, Raipur, 13 May, 2015. He is a Senior lawyer of Chhattisgarh and can be reached at kanaktiwari.cg@gmail.com]

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