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Civil disobedience question is an old one.

THE debate over civil disobedience as a means of protest is as old as our democracy itself.

The discussion over justification for resorting to civil disobedience even after Independence featured in the constituent assembly debates on the draft Constitution over six decades ago but is probably yet to reach an end.

B. R. Ambedkar emphatically stated the method of " civil disobedience, non- cooperation and satyagraha" as a means of protest should be abandoned after Independence but the debate also records the counter- view on the issue.

Speaking in the constituent assembly on November 25, 1949, Ambedkar said: " If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving social and economic objectives.

It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non- cooperation and satyagrahaC* These methods are nothing but the grammar of anarchy." His view echoed during the constituent assembly debate earlier when a member, H. V. Kamath, sought to know if the right to start satyagraha would be a fundamental right.

Prof. N. G. Ranga stressed that any right which posed a danger to the concept of democracy had to be taken away.

But there was a counter- view too, though not on the same point. Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava referred to a situation where courts would not be empowered to intervene in situations where a law was validly enacted but was condemned by the people.

The counter- view can gain strength from the fact that Mahatma Gandhi had said nonviolent resistance could continue even after Independence.

" Indian leaders can be wrong- headed as well," he is believed to have said.

After Independence, SC judge V. R. Krishna Iyer didn't rule out such protests if democratic institutions were impervious to legitimate grievances.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Oct 8, 2012
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