Thursday, July 18, 2019

Stanislaus versus State of Madhya Pradesh - Historical Context

Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, 1977 SCR (2) 611, is a matter where the Supreme Court of India considered the issue whether the fundamental right to practise and propagate religion includes the right to convert, held that the right to propagate does not include the right to convert and therefore upheld the constitutional validity of the laws enacted by Madhya Pradesh and Orissa legislatures prohibiting conversion by force, fraud or allurement.

Here is a timeline.

June 26, 1975:
  • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declares a state of emergency, invoking Article 352 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Most of the opposition, including Vijayaraje Scindia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Raj Narain, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Jivatram Kripalani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Arun Jaitley are arrested and thrown into jail.
  • Press censorship is instituted.  At some time later, Kishore Kumar's music is banned from radio.
  • The RSS is banned. 
  • Narendra Damodardas Modi, about 27, a RSS pracharak, uses disguises and pseudonyms to evade arrest.
  • Balu is 25 years old, probably still in his Marxist phase, somewhere in Bangalore.
January 3, 1977
  • Most of the provisions of the 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution comes into effect.  The Preamble to the Constitution of India now describes as a "sovereign, socialist secular democratic republic" (it used to be just "sovereign democratic republic".) 
  •  Other changes brought about by the 42nd Amendment strengthened the executive at the cost of the judiciary.
January 17, 1977

  • The Supreme Court issues its ruling in Stanislaus versus State of Madhya Pradesh. 

January 18, 1977
  • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi calls for elections and releases all the political prisoners. 
March 16-19, 1977

  • Elections to the Parliament are held all over India
March 20, 1977
  • Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party are dealt a crushing defeat, going from 350 members of Parliament to 197. 

March 21, 1977:

  • The state of Emergency is withdrawn.
Sometime in 1977:

  • Balu moves to Belgium to study philosophy at Ghent University.
  • Balu issues his "We Shall Not Cease..." position paper as a proposal for the decolonizing of social sciences.
  • Balu completes his PhD thesis.

  • "The Heathen in his Blindness...": Asia, the West and the Dynamic of Religion is published.
The point should be amply clear that Balu and his ideas had nothing to do with the Supreme Court ruling.  The decision came at the height of Indian "secularism", at a time when the Nehruvians - for  whom there very much is a "religion" called "Hinduism" -  had an iron grip on power, including the judiciary.

Why did I write this article - because it brought back memories.
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