The lecture was delivered by India's former Solicitor General and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium.
Supreme Court judge Mr. Justice G.S. Singhvi presided over the lecture.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Justice Singhvi emphasized that citizens have a responsibility to spread the cause of justice and that they must become partners in governance.
Rather than blaming the government for environment degradation, food security and other such problems, citizens have to reflect on what they have done to contribute to the governance of the country, he added.
Referring to the Justice J.S. Verma Committee report and consequent Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, he noted that these changes came about as a result of people's movements.
He observed that unless "we fulfill our part of duties, talk of constitutional governance is futile."
Reminding citizens of their role in new India, Justice Singhvi noted that "the Constitution has not failed us, but we have failed the Constitution. He pointed out on how the most important constituent of the Constitution, namely, "We the People" could reclaim our position in India's constitutional scheme."
Gopal Subramanium said: "As an essential precondition for constitutional governance in the truest sense there is a need to undertake an orientation course by every prime minister, minister, parliamentarian, judge and holders of constitutional office, in order to understand the history of the Constitution, the history of Indian people, history of the judiciary, and the great men who have adorned it".
He further observed that "India's tryst with destiny will be a mirage" unless the Constitution is implemented with sincerity, "whereby our character is tested."
He stressed that "in constitutional governance, the national policy on environment, national policy on mental health, national policy on establishment of primary schools, national policy on the creation of judicial infrastructure, national policy on accounting must exist".
Subramanium said, "Indian society must encourage dissent. Every citizen must have the capacity of being able to express his opinion without any fear or favour".
He called for craftsmanship and creation of adequate conditions for economic growth.
Subramanium observed that economic growth cannot be exclusive and elitist.
He further observed that while caste was sought to be made irrelevant under Article 17, it remains a measure of determining the recipients of affirmative action, and still is a political pointer in the selection of candidates by political parties.
He said it was on account of the failure of the state to look after the Dalits who suffer from extreme poverty, lack of land reforms, caste discrimination and denial of access to justice that the Dalits have been pushed towards naxalism.
He underlined the strong need for the political system to understand the needs of the oppressed, powerless, landless and the Dalits.
Calling for a more robust practice of democracy in the legislatures and deprecating the ubiquity of party whips, Subramaniam said: "Members who belong to a political party do not even raise meaningful questions to interrogate the performance or functions of the members of their own political party".
Stressing the need for public discussion and public consultation, Subramanium pointed out that "the degree of public consultation undertaken by the executive government in pushing through economic policies without adequate explanation to the people or to the Parliament is highly disturbing".
"The Constitution" he pointed out, "is not about survival in office and being in power". "Governance is not meant to be manipulative in political terms, but governance is meant to be honest, informed and with a true purpose."
"Men in the body politic think that it is cleverness and cunningness which outmatches a sense of purpose. The lack of adequate debate, the lack of preparation, the absence of the topmost ministers in government when important Bills are moved, does signify that being in Parliament is not their primary business".
Subramanium paid glowing tribute to Justice Verma's contribution as a judge, and in particular, his judgments relating to compensation for custodial death, guidelines issued on sexual harassment in Vishakha case, restatement of values of judicial life and Justice Verma committee report following Nirbhaya case.
--ANI (Posted on 17-09-2013)