Hindutva and the Indian Constitution
Anurag Chauhan, Student, Chanakya National Law University, Patna
“The core of the Indian Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, is Hindutva.” - Ram Jethmalani
Various principles of Hindutva are present in our Constitution, but before mentioning them, let us first understand the term 'Hindutva'. What is 'Hindutva'? Is 'Hindutva' different from 'Hinduism,' or are they both the same? In simple words, 'Hindutva' is the state of being Hindu. The Supreme Court has held in the case of Sastri vs. Muldas Bhudarda Vaishya that Hinduism is a way of life, it is not a religion. Ten years after this judgment, the Supreme Court held in the case of Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Madras and Others vs. Late R Sridharan that Hinduism does not symbolize religious practices; rather, it symbolized culture. In 1995, the Apex court held that Hindutva is a way of life for the people living in the Indian subcontinent.
Hindutva ideas favour the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code and ban on cow slaughter. These issues are the tenets of the Hindutva ideology. The Directive principle of State Policy mentions under Article 44 that the State should work towards implementation of a uniform civil code in India. The Supreme Court has said that though the framers of the Indian Constitution have hoped for implementation of a uniform civil code in India, till now no work has been done regarding its fulfilment. In the Constituent Assembly Debate, it was said by the framers of the Indian Constitution that since India is a secular state so, personal laws related to succession, inheritance and marriage could not depend upon religion rather, they should be dependent upon the law of the land. However, the Supreme Court has recommended, more than once, to take early steps towards the formation of a uniform Civil Code. Sarla Mudgal vs. Union of India is one such case.
Further, in Article 48 of the Indian Constitution, it has been mentioned that the State should work towards the prohibition of cow slaughter in the country. In Mohd. Hanif Qureshi & Others vs. State of Bihar case, the Supreme Court held that complete ban on slaughter of bovine cattle was valid, reasonable, and in accordance with Article 48 of the Indian Constitution, which is a Directive Principle of State Policy. However, the Honorable Court held that blanket ban on slaughter of uneconomic cattle was unjustified. In 2005, a Seven Judge Bench in the case of State of Gujarat vs. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat and Ors reversed the earlier judgment and held that it was necessary to impose a complete prohibition on the slaughter of progeny of cow. This bench overruled the previous judgment of the Apex court in Qureshi v State of Gujarat. It held that even when the cattle stop giving milk or breeding, it can be used for agricultural work as it gives dung which can be used as a biofuel, so in no case, it should be termed as useless. Therefore, the Apex court considered that there should be a total prohibition on the slaughter of progeny of cow.
Apart from the Directive Principles of State Policy, there are things mentioned in the Indian Constitution, which is present in Hindutva. The first and original copy of the Indian Constitution has an image of Lord Ram highlighting Part III, which consists of the Fundamental Rights. Then there is an image of Lord Krishna on the title of Part IV of the Indian Constitution, which includes Fundamental Duties. Nand Lal Bose demonstrated the pages of our Constitution with the images of Hindu Gods besides Mahavir, Gautam Buddha, and other historical figures in order to reflect the rich cultural heritage of India.
Subramanian Swamy had written in his book 'The Ideology of India's Modern Right' that India before the Islamic invasions was not a monarchy instead it was a republic because the traditional Hindu kings acted like the President of a Republic as they worked according to the wishes and decision of the court advisors or prominent sages or Brahmins. Swamy further says that in the same way, we have a Republic in present India with a federal spirit, and thus, our Constitution has a Hindutva essence in it. Mahatma Gandhi has said that he wants Ram Rajya in India. By Ram Rajya, he meant a state where even the weakest person's grievances, either social or economic, would be heard and justice would be done to him. In Ram Rajya, there are equal rights for a prince and a poor person. In fact, by Ram Rajya, Gandhi meant Swaraj to its fullest form.
Hindutva cannot be alienated from the idea of India. We should not see Hindutva and Indianness as two separate entities; instead, both should be seen as complementary. Hindutva talks about our culture, way of life and how we behave in society. This way of life has evolved since the dawn of our civilization and has guided us for a better lifestyle. The most significant achievement and the crux of Indian civilization are Hindutva. We have seen people trying to sabotage Hindutva's idea by vilifying it, but when something is assimilated in one's lifestyle, it is hard to pull it out. As already mentioned above the Indian Constitution has many principles of Hindutva embedded in it. Fundamental duties enshrined in the Indian Constitution have always been taught to Indian people even before the Constitution was drafted. Hindutva ideology lays down the ruler's responsibilities on how to rule as we see that in DPSP. Showing kindness to human beings and animals, especially cows and other bovine animals, is part of Hindutva. These days very few people talk about Ram Rajya. Nowadays, if any politician will say in favour of Ram Rajya, he will be turned as communal, but this cannot be denied that pre-Independence, the Father of our Nation himself supported the idea of Ram Rajya. Thus, this article explains how the values of Hindutva are present in our Constitution. Uniform civil code, the prohibition of slaughter of cow, principles of Upanishads, Vedas, and ideas of Ram Rajya are some of the principles of Hindutva, which are inherent in the Indian Constitution.