New Delhi:An academic has raised serious questions about the traditional imageof Jawaharlal Nehru as the architect of India's democracy and the guardian of its constitution.
Cambridge University scholar, Tripurdaman Singh, says that Nehru's First Amendment to the constitution gutted the original document with a seriously adverse impact on fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and ownership of property.
''The First Amendment was also passed in a constitutionally questionable manner by a largely unelected provisional parliament and by an allegedly improper use of constitutional articles that could amount to sleight of hand. Unfortunately, this controversial exercise of power was supported, for various reasons, both by Sardar Patel and BR Ambedkar.''
In a 45-minute interview to a left leaning news portal about his recently published book 'Sixteen Stormy Days', Tripurdaman Singh told Karan Thapar that the First Amendment to the constitution, passed in June 1951, introduced curbs on freedom of speech which created the grounds to validate sedition.
It also conferred on the executive additional powers to curb free speech which Nehru may not have exploited but his successors certainly did. He says the First Amendment "opened the floodgates for drastic and oppressive laws" like the National Security Act, the Maintenance of Internal Security Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which are often used to ban books, arrest journalists, jail activists and harass political opponents.
According to a press release here on Sunday, in the interview to a left leaning news portal , Tripurdaman Singh also said that the First Amendment made the right to property "redundant" by providing grounds not to enforce the requirement for equitable compensation. The right to property thus ceased to be for all practical purposes a fundamental right.(UNI)