Safeguarding, strengthening Constitution a shared enterprise: Kovind

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said that safeguarding and strengthening the Constitution is a shared responsibility of the judiciary, the executive and the legislature, in partnership with the people of India.

Addressing a function to mark the Constitution Day, he touched upon many other issues including social justice, technology and plugging of leakages by linking Aadhaar with the delivery of social welfare schemes. He also expressed concern over disruptions in Parliament, describing them as unfortunate.

“Dr. Ambedkar and his colleagues in the Constituent Assembly were remarkably large-hearted and generous in their approach. They allowed for flexibility in amending the Constitution and were accommodative of various streams of thought.

“They trusted the wisdom of future generations to expand the frontiers of freedom and liberty, justice and fraternity, fairness and equality. They trusted future generations to not just amend the Constitution, but to constructively reimagine and reinterpret it,” he said.

The Constitution is the modern scripture of independent India and is more than just a collection of articles and clauses.

“For us Indians, it is an inspirational and living document, an ideal of the society we are and the even better society we are striving to be,” he said.

The President said that the people of India are the “ultimate custodians” of the Constitution and it is in them that sovereignty vests and it’s in their name that the Constitution was adopted.

“The Constitution empowers the citizen, but the citizen too empowers the Constitution – by following it, by adhering to it, by protecting it, and by persevering to make it more meaningful with words and deeds. The Constitution is nobody’s preserve – and it is everybody’s preserve,” he said.

He said that perhaps the most moving word in the Constitution is “justice” and it must also be seen in a wider context – in terms of society’s evolution and its changing beliefs, lifestyles and technologies.

“Justice is a single word. ‘Justice’ is a complex and liberating expression. And ‘justice’ is both the means and the goal of our constitutional and nation-building process,” he said.

Underlining that “social justice is the touchstone of our development”, the President said that social justice is all about providing equal opportunities — social, economic and political.

The President said the idea of social justice has expanded to encompass modern civic parameters – such as clean air, less polluted cities and towns, rivers and water bodies, sanitary and hygienic living conditions, green and eco-friendly growth and development.

“These are all implications of environmental and climate justice, within the framework of social justice. If a child suffers from asthma due to air pollution it would be considered a gap in providing social justice,” he said.

He said technology is an enhancer of justice as well as a challenge, calling for thinking of technological justice as a subset of economic justice.

“This is very true in the context of access to technology for our poorer and less-privileged fellow citizens,” he said, adding that innovation has also worked for the benefit of disadvantaged sections of society.

Innovation and technology have brought gains but they have also brought questions of access and privacy.

“For example, there is the dilemma of weighing data privacy against the use of data for the greater common good. Within these competing imperatives lie competing notions of justice. And such issues will probably stay with us through the 21st century,” he said.

Calling disruptions in parliamentary proceedings as “unfortunate”, he said some have suggested that these too be seen as encroachment on the citizen’s understanding of justice.

He welcomed the decision of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to translate the judgments of the top court into Hindi to start with and gradually to other languages.

Gogoi said the “Constitution was the voice of the marginalised” and “it is in the best interest to heed its advice” in moments of crisis.

“The Constitution has become an integral part of people’s lives,” the CJI had said.