India, US can learn from constitutional experience: Moily

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Indian constitution is flexible and vulnerable to Supreme Court action, union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said, adding that India and the US can learn from each other’s experiences.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on “Indian Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights” here Wednesday.

“This vulnerability of the (Indian) constitution is an issue, is a concern and is a problem,” Moily said at the discussion, organised ahead of the visit of US President Barack Obama to India.

Former attorney general Soli J. Sorabjee, former Indian ambassador to US Abid Hussain, Deputy Chief of the US Mission Donald Lu and several diplomats and constitutional experts participated in the discussion, organised by the Indo-American Friendship Association.

Moily said the constitution was not a legality-based document but more a document reflecting the social rights and concerns through the fundamental rights.

He said the constitution had drawn insight and influence from various constitutions, including the US statute, but the basic idealism of the constitution was drawn from the “idea of India - a 5000-year-old civilisational idea.”

In the march of time, Indian constitution will have to learn much from US experience and vice versa, he said.

Abid Hussain said that under the guidance of Jawaharlal Nehru, India opted for a modernist constitution.

The debates of the constitutional assembly is an excellent record of varied discourse where the three different streams - Hindutva, pluralist and modernist - were discussed threadbare, he added.

Donald Lu said that the human rights part of the US constitution evolved late through the Bill of Rights.

The American pro-independence slogan of “no taxation without representation” and the evolution of the Indian freedom struggle had a lot of things in common, Lu added.

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