Terming secularism as one of the essential ingredient in the basic structure of our Constitution, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari said it is a positive concept of equal treatment. Addressing the gathering of student and faculty of University of Jammu at their 16th Convocation on Saturday, he said one of the prominent discourses in public has been the constitutional ideal of India being a secular republic.
“The Basic Structure doctrine relating to our Constitution is now a settled law. One of its ingredients is secularism. This is accepted in principle by most segments of opinion (barring advocates of some version of theocracy). It is more than a passive attitude of religious tolerance; it is a positive concept of equal treatment,” the Vice President said.
Speaking further at the event, VP Ansari also shed a critical light on the role of judiciary emphasising that Justice for all is among the first ideal of our Constitution.
“Supreme Court may consider, in its wisdom, to clarify the contours within which the principles of secularism and composite culture should operate with a view to strengthen their functional modality and remove ambiguities that have crept in?” he told the gathering, which also included Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and J&K Governor N N Vohra.
“Indian secularism has been described as ameliorative whose spiritual core is incrementalism.20 A citizen could well hope that this incremental approach is used to enhance social cohesion and social peace,” he added.
Calling religious tolerance as one of the basic tenets for national integration and religious unity, the Vice President stressed that Constitution has always warned against politicising any religion.
“Programmes or principles evolved by political parties based on religion amount to recognizing religion as a part of the political governance, which the Constitution expressly prohibits. It violates the basic features of the Constitution,” he said quoting one of the very important past judgement delivered by the apex court, namely Bommai judgement.
Lauding the diversity and complexities of the country, VP Ansari told the gathering that the absence of homogeneity holds good for composite culture of India. Citing Bommai judgement once again, he concluded that secularism and composite culture are two sides of the same coin.
“The Bommai judgement said that ‘this cultural heritage in India shaped that people of all religious faiths, living in different parts of the country are to tolerate each other’s religious faiths or beliefs and each religion made its contribution to enrich the composite Indian culture as a happy blend or synthesis’,” the Vice President said.