Constitution Day: President Droupadi Murmu lauds women's participation in constituent assembly
New Delhi: When some of the leading nations in the West were still debating women's rights, in India women were participating in the framing of the Constitution, said President Droupadi Murmu at the Constitution Day celebrations organised by the Supreme Court of India.
"On this day 73 years ago, the Constituent Assembly adopted this document of our collective destiny. We are commemorating today the adoption of the Constitution that has not only guided the journey of the Republic over the decades but has also inspired several other nations in the drafting of their constitutions," said Murmu. The Constituent Assembly was composed of elected members who represented all the regions and communities of the nation, she added. They included stalwarts of our Freedom Movement. Thus, their debates and the document they prepared reflect the values that guided the struggle for Independence, she stated.
She further stated when we read the names of the members of the assembly, we are bound to feel a surge of pride. An unusual number of extraordinary individuals marked the decades before Independence. "I sincerely believe that no other place and no other time have produced a galaxy of giants like them," said Murmu.
She further said that they had their own dreams and ideas about the character of this nation, but they were united in their desire to see it freed of shackles. They all made great sacrifices to ensure that the coming generations would breathe the air of a free nation, she added.
"The first among them all, of course, was the Father of the Nation. The visionary leadership of Mahatma Gandhi created a generation of great leaders. The Constitution bears an unmistakable stamp of Gandhian principles," she said.
"Equally, the President of the Constituent Assembly, my great predecessor, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, and the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, converted a grand vision into words," she further said.
"I am especially proud of the fact that the 389 members also included 15 women. When some of the leading nations in the West were still debating women's rights, in India women were participating in the framing of the Constitution," she added.
She further added that Hansaben Mehta, one of them, also made a critical contribution to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kripalani, Durgabai Deshmukh and other women members were already seasoned campaigners, having dedicated themselves to the Freedom Movement, she stated.
"Speaking of women, I would like to note that their participation in public life since Independence has shown an upward trend, but there is no reason to be content. I understand the Judiciary too strives to enhance gender balance," she said.
"The cornerstone of the Constitution is summed up in its Preamble. Its singular focus is on how to increase social good. Its entire edifice rests on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. I would like to note here that these four stellar values enshrined in our Constitution have been part of our own timeless heritage," she further said.
"When we speak of justice, we understand it is an ideal and achieving it is not without obstacles. Here, I must mention my immediate predecessor, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, who often stressed the cost of justice. The onus is on all of us to make the process of seeking justice affordable to all," she stated.
"I appreciate the efforts made by the Judiciary in this direction. The legal aid society and similar initiatives are worth praising, and so are individual initiatives to provide legal counselling for free," she further stated.
The question of access often goes beyond cost matters. The Supreme Court of India and several other courts now make judgments available in a number of Indian languages. This praiseworthy gesture makes an average citizen a stakeholder in the process. It can also raise their awareness and the quality of public debates. Still, the legal language, its complicated expressions and jargon are challenging for most people.
"I understand that this matter has been debated in the Judiciary too. Let us hope the day is not far when more and more people from outside the legal fraternity too will be able to read important judgments. The Supreme Court and several other courts have started live streaming their proceedings, which too will go a long way in making citizens effective stakeholders in the dispensation of justice," she spoke.
In this regard, let me note that the Supreme Court has earned a reputation for its superior standards and lofty ideals. It has played its role as the interpreter of the Constitution in the most exemplary way. Landmark judgments passed by this Court have strengthened the legal and constitutional framework of our nation.
"I am confident that this Court will always remain the sentinel of justice. I wish the Chief Justice and the Judges of the Supreme Court the very best for the future," Murmu further stated.
"Constitution Day is a day to reaffirm our firm adherence to constitutional ideals, as these are the ideals that have helped the nation proceed on the path of progress. I would like to compliment the Supreme Court of India for organising this function. I am grateful to the Chief Justice of India for giving me an opportunity to be here among you today," she said. (ANI)