Speaking at the Constitution Day celebration on the Supreme Court premises on Friday, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice NV Ramana, encouraged lawyers to remember the “dual significance and role” played by lawyers in the framing of the Constitution and their responsibility to “educate the citizenry” about the law.
The CJI said that lawyers and judges are the “most visible players” in the debate and development of the law and constitution.
“The constitution of today, built upon the foundations laid by the framers, is a richer and more complex document than what it was when it was adopted in 1949. This is a result of the dialogue that took place both inside and outside the courtroom, resulting in novel and unique interpretations,” the CJI said.
“Perhaps, the most important feature of the Indian constitution is the fact that it provides a framework for debate. It is through such debate and discussion that the nation ultimately progresses, evolves, and achieves higher levels of welfare for the people,” said Justice Ramana.
India celebrates Constitution Day on November 26, to mark the date in 1949 the Constituent Assembly adopted the Indian constitution, which came into effect on January 26, 1950.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had started celebrating November 26 as “Law Day” in 1979, marking the day with a gathering in the Supreme court Lawns, with speeches and honouring of senior lawyers. In 2015, the Indian government and the Supreme Court administration started formal celebrations, renaming it as “Constitution Day”.
While the SCBA function is held on the Supreme Court premises, the formal event is held at Vigyan Bhavan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected as the guest of honour at the inaugural function at Vigyan Bhavan at 4:30 pm on Friday, while the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, will be the guest of honour at the concluding ceremony on Saturday, November 27.
The Chief Justice of India also asked lawyers to “assist the institution”.
“You must assist judges and the institution. We are all ultimately part of one large family. Protect the institution from motivated and targeted attacks. Do not shy away from standing up for what is right, and against what is wrong,” said justice Ramana.
CJI also quoted Dr. BR Ambedkar, “Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation, as much as a plant needs water. Otherwise, both will wither and die. On this Constitution Day, let us all pledge to propagate the ideas that form the basis of the Constitution: freedom, equality and justice in all of its facets for all people,” said the CJI.
Speaking at the SCBA function, senior advocate and SCBA president Vikas Singh said that the constitution is an “instrument of change.”
“The constitution is an instrument of change. It has to keep evolving with time. We have had 105 amendments only to evolve with time because whatever the constitution was decided to be in 1949 cannot remain so given the change of society and how society has evolved,” said Singh.
The senior lawyer also asked the legal fraternity to deliberate upon the increasing number of legislators charged with serious crimes.
“Lawbreakers should not be lawmakers. When the constitution was framed, the solemn hope was expressed that society will throw up its best to man Parliament who will make the laws but unfortunately the statistics prove otherwise. That is the very important area of concern which we should all deliberate on this constitution day as to whether we had intended that what was 23% in 2004 of people charged with serious crime has now grown to 43% of Parliament today. Was this what was thought of?” he said.