PRECARIOUSNESS OF HARMONY
This case Dr. Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo v. Shri Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte & Ors., was an appeal made by Dr. Ramesh Yeshwanth Prabhoo, returned candidate from, Vile Parle Constituency to the Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly, under section 116A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, against Shri Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte And Others in the Supreme Court of India. This was a 3 judge bench case which includes Hon’ble Mr. Justice J.S. Verma, Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.P. Singh, Hon’ble Mr. Justice K. Venkataswami.
In this case the Bombay High Court had declared the Appellants, Dr Ramesh Yeshwanth Prabhoo and Bal Thackeray, were found guilty of corrupt practices under section 100 (1) (b) of the R.P. Act. They were further found to be guilty of corrupt practices under 123(3) and 123(3A) of the R.P. Act. This was because the Appellants appeal for votes during their 3 public speeches at different places was purely based on Prabhoo’s religion which arouse communal hatred between Hindu and Muslim citizens of the country, thus harming the harmony of the society and people.
The 3 speeches given by Bal Thackeray at different places and on different days plays an important role. These were as follows:
- Speech on 29.11.1987
“We are fighting this election for the protection of Hinduism. Therefore, we do not care for the votes of Muslims. This country belongs to Hindus and will remain so”
- Speech on 9.12.1987
“ Hinduism will triumph in this election and we must become hon’ble recipients of this victory to ward off the danger on Hinduism, elect Ramesh Prabhoo to join with Chhagan Bhujbal who is already there. You will find Hindu temples underneath if all the mosques are dug out. Anybody who stands against the Hindus should be showed or worshipped with shoes. A candidate by name Pravhoo should be led to victory in the name of religion.”
- Speech on 10.12.1987
“We have gone with the ideology of Hinduism. Shiv Sena will implement this ideology. Though this country belongs to Hindus, Ram and Krishna are insulted.(They) valued the Muslim votes more than your votes: we do not want the Muslim votes. A snake like Shahabuddin is sitting in the Janata Party, man like Nihal Ahmed is also in Janata Party. So the residents of Vile Parle should bury this party(Janata Party),”
The word ‘Hindutva’ used by Bal Thackeray in his speeches created a lot of dilemma while giving the judgement for the above case.
The Supreme Court of India declared Dr. Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo and Bal Thackeray to be guilty under section 123(3) and 123(3A) of R.P. Act. The author feels that the courts decision was appropriate because, the main dilemma in deciding this case judgement was based on the actual meaning of the word ‘Hindutva’ which was used in the public speeches given by Bal Thackeray in the presence of Mr. Ramesh Prabhoo.
The dilemma in it was whether the word ‘Hindutva’ referred to the hindu religion or whether it referred to the Indian culture and their lifestyle. So, in order to find out the actual meaning of it, judges looked into the circumstances under which the speech was delivered and taking the whole speech and situation into consideration. After considering all these it was clearly visible that the ‘Hindutva’ word used in the speech directly referred to the religion ‘Hindu’.
In the first speech “we do not care for votes of muslims” clearly shows that they were referring to the religion hindu. In second speech “you will find hindu temples underneath if all mosque are dug out” visibly tells us their intention of upgrading hindu religion when compared to that muslims. In th third one “Though this country belongs to Hindus, Ram and Krishna are insulted” clearly shows us that they are referring to religion ‘Hindu’ and not the Indian culture. So, the decision taken by the judges is appropriate in this aspect.
The decision taken by the court completely confirms with the existing law, that is section 123(3) and 123(3A) of the R.P. Act, without going against or violating any other law under The Constitution of India. In brief section 123(3) says that the appeal for vote by the candidate or the election agent with the consent of the election agent or candidate, on the grounds of religion, cast, creed, community or language is violative or is considered a corrupt practice under the act. And according to section 123(3A) , creating a feeling of enmity among different classes of society or communities on the grounds of religion, race, cast, creed, language, is violative of the Act. The speeches given by the appellants did both the acts which the section 123(3) and (3A) considers violative.
Though these sections becomes constitutionally invalid, when seen taking, Article 19(1)(a) i.e. right to freedom of speech and expression, into consideration; it becomes constitutionally valid when we consider both Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India as the latter one imposes reasonable restriction on the former.
The reasoning in this case was consistent with the reasoning of similar cases. At first the reasoning given in this case was that, the appellants were held guilty because they appealed for votes in the name of religion which was seen as a way of destroying or disturbing the secularism as well as harmony of the people within the country. Likewise, in Dr.M.Ismail Faruqui and Others etc. v. Union of India and Others etc. case, or in general called “Ayodhya case”, ‘Secularism’ was given first priority among all other issues.
In the similar case of Ziyauddin Bukhari v. Brijmohan Ramdass Mehta & Ors, High court had rightly found the appellant guilty of corrupt practices under section 123(2), 123(3), 123(3A) of the Act, as the appellants appealed votes in the name of muslim religious person. Thus in many such cases, the reasoning given matches with the present case. Hence, the judgement given in the present case is right as per authors’ perspective.
The court’s reasoning was consistent with the existing laws and its judgement was adequately justified with the reasoning. The main idea of the laws and Constitution is to protect the Fundamental rights of the people and to protect the preamble which constitutes the main idea for framing the Constitution of India. One of the aspect in the preamble is to protect the secularism of the country, which in one way can be seen as preserving and maintaining the harmony among the citizens of the country. In the speech given by the appellant had the word ‘Hindutva’ which had mainly two meanings. One symbolizing the ‘Indian culture and the Indians lifestyle’ and the other meaning is representing ‘Hindu’ religion among all other diverse religion which existed in the country.
After analyzing the circumstances and the style in which the speech was delivered , it could be clearly made out that the word ‘Hindutva’ used in the speech clearly was reflecting the Hindu religion. This creates a feeling of hatredness, enmity, disputes among different classes of citizens of India within the society leading to the creation of instability in ‘secularism’ of the country and thus bringing ‘harmony’ among people of the country at the verge of precariousness. This is completely against the idea of constitution and the preamble of the country. In order to prevent it the decision or the judgement given by the Supreme Court of India in this case is completely acceptable. The courts interpretation of law was appropriate and did not violate any other existing laws.
This case and the judgement given by the court for this case will have a positive impact on the citizens of the country and the present society. It will show the priority of the Constitution of India in securing secularism as well as the harmony within this diverse country. It also shows that the Constitution does not encourage or uphold any one religion, even though the people of that religion constitute a majority population of the country.
Thus by protecting the secularism of the country by this judgement, the court has prevented communal disputes, hate redness, enmity among citizens , which could in turn result in humongous loss for the country in terms of economy, peace of society, resources etc. On the whole, the court has also preserved the harmony within the country. Thus the author completely agrees with the judgement given for the case.
Author: Harshini P,
IFIM LAW SCHOOL, 2nd year