State Doesn’t Owe Loyalty to Any One Religion, Asserts SC Judge


“The Constitution has sought to establish a secular order under which the religious majority of the population does not enjoy any preferential treatment at the hands of the State and religious rights of the minorities are upheld.” 

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — The Constitution stresses a secular order under which the majority community does not enjoy any preferential treatment and the rights of religious minorities are upheld, Supreme Court judge Justice B.V. Nagarathna has said. 

Emphasising minorities’ rights and curbs on majoritarianism, she was quoted by as saying that the country’s Constitution “has sought to establish a secular order under which the religious majority of the population does not enjoy any preferential treatment at the hands of the State and religious rights of the minorities are upheld.” 

Justice Nagarathna was speaking at an event to launch a book titled “Constitutional Ideals” organised by DAKSH, which describes itself as a think-tank and research institution focused on law and justice system reforms and access to justice.

The book is a collection of essays that throws light on how the judiciary has interpreted and enriched the Constitution under diverse political, social, and economic circumstances.

Explaining the concept of secularism, Justice Nagarathna said: “Secularism in the sense that it meant under the Indian Constitution is that the State does not owe loyalty to any one religion. The State equally respects all religions. The vision of the founding fathers was that a nation transcending all diversities of religion, caste and creed; to bring about a new social order based on justice, social, economic and political aspects”.

Lack of integrity and corruption are the two biggest hurdles in achieving ideal citizenship, she pointed out.

“The essence of fundamental duties is to achieve ideal citizenship. It’s not just the relationship between the citizen and the State and the duties of a citizen to the State, it also encompasses the duties of one citizen to another. For this, we need to cherish and practice the values of the Indian Constitution. Among the constitutional values, integrity is the highest. But alas! With the passing of every year, integrity is losing its value in our total value system. Bribery, corruption and flaunting of ill-gotten wealth have become the order of the day and have been entrenched in Indian society. Disproportionate assets possessed by certain persons, especially by those in public life, are hardly thought of as blackmarks in our Indian society,” Justice Nagarathna was quoted as saying.

Dwelling at length on the issue of integrity and honesty, she noted “While the country has grown economically, and there’s greater generation of income among the people, what is of great worry is disproportionate assets. That is income from other than known sources. We may progress as a nation, economically and socially, claim ourselves to be good citizens, and have a great Constitution. But if we lack integrity, what is it at the end?”

The judge called on people to “take a pledge against graft and also to practice integrity as a way of life” and “to shun benefits obtained from ill-gotten money”.

“If there’s a determination made by everyone to refuse the benefits of graft, the need for such filthy lucre would automatically reduce, if not disappear. For that there’s a determination required to live within the known sources of income, whatever may be the attractions of consumerism and materialism,” she asserted.

Justice Nagarathna also emphasised the importance of fraternity. “Fraternity will help deepen democratic values despite our religious, linguistic and other differences,” she concluded.


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