STUNG BY Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s outburst against Mahatma Gandhi, Law Commission member Tahir Mahmood has suggested changes in the laws relating to protection of national honour and elections to prevent insult to the Father of the Nation.
The Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act 1971 must be amended to make a suitable provision to protect the fair name of the Father of the Nation, he said. “The honour of the man whom we owe our freedom and who spent a lifetime protecting the downtrodden he fondly called Harijans (Gods’ people) cannot be left to the idiosyncrasies of foul-mouthed critics.”
Those who have the cheek to call the Mahatma’s concern for the Harijans a “drama” deserve a more stringent punishment for such national sacrilege than the Act at present prescribes for insulting symbols of national honour, Mahmood told HT. He was reacting to Mayawati’s s statement that Gandhi’s love for Dalits was pretentious.
He suggested that the election law contained in Representation of the People Act 1951
should also be amended to disqualify those indulging in such vituperation against the Father of the Nation or in any activity that the 1971 Act at present penalizes.
He intends preparing a report for the Law Commission of India recommending these amendments to be made in the two Act, Mahmood said.
In its present form, the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act 1971
provides for penalties only for insulting the national flag or the Constitution
and for preventing singing of the National Anthem.
“To prevent insult to the great man who made it possible for us to have a National Constitution, a National Flag and a National Anthem is at least as important if not more as preventing insult to these symbols of national honour. It is high time a deterrent provision to this effect was made in the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act 1971,” Mahmood, a former Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, said.