Recently, the Supreme Court of India has made a new observation on Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Now, what is Article 32? What does it state? Article 32 falls under Part III of the Constitution of India which includes the fundamental rights of the Indian citizens. It permits the citizens of India to approach the Apex court in case of violation of the fundamental rights. “It is a right fundamental to all fundamental rights” guaranteed under the constitution. During the Constituent Assembly debates in December 1948, a discussion on this fundamental right (in the draft, it is referred to as article 25), Dr B R Ambedkar had said, “If I was to name any article in this Constitution as the most important- an Article which the Constitution would be nullity—I could not refer to any Article except this one. It is the very soul of the Constitution and the very heart of it…”
In the current case of the journalist Siddique Kappan, the court asked why the petitioners could not go to High Court. It has sought responses from the Centre and UP government. Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped, was going there under the garb of journalism with a very determined design to create caste divide and disturb law and order situation, the Uttar Pradesh government said in the Supreme Court a few days ago. Opposing the plea filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) questioning Siddique Kappan's arrest and seeking his bail, the state has said it is not maintainable and the petitioner has no locus as the accused is already in touch with his advocates and relatives and he himself can file proceedings through his lawyers.
In another case several days ago invoking the Article 32, filed by the Nagpur-based man arrested in three cases for alleged defamatory content against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and others, the same bench directed him to approach the High Court first.
As the Yale historian Rohit De reminds us vividly, Article 32 makes the apex court into a “people’s court”. And the future historians should not be able to conclude deliberately dealt deathblows to this “soul” of the constitution, as Dr. B R Ambedkar described Article 32.
This article has been written by Suhani Nowal for The Paradigm
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