Sunday 27 October 2013

The Son-of-the Soil Theory

“Sar Zameen-e-Hind par aqwaam-e-Alam ke Firaq
Qafile guzarte gaye, Hindustan banta gaya”

                                                   --Firaq Gorakhpuri
Some people in one State in India propounded the son-of-the soil (bhumiputra) theory. They assaulted people of other states and vandalized their property.

When a case came before a bench of the Supreme Court of which I was a member I orally observed in court that we cannot permit balkanization of the country.

Article 19 (1) (e) of the Indian Constitution states:
“All citizens shall have the right – (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.”

Thus it is a fundamental right of a person who is a native of State A to migrate to State B, and people in State B cannot say that since the person is not a bhumiputra of State B he is an ‘infiltrator’ and should be driven out. In practically every State in India there are people who were natives of other states, but had come there for trade or job opportunities or some other reason. By virtue of Article 19 (1) (e) they have a fundamental right to migrate to and settle down in any other state. It would be unconstitutional to prevent persons from migrating and settling at places where they find their livelihood vide 1997 (3) Guj L R 1998 (2012) SC. The only exceptions are Kashmir and the Northeast due to special historical reasons.

India is one country, and the bhumiputra theory is totally unacceptable.

India is one country with one nationality - Indian. Those who regard Maharashtra as a separate nation are traitors to the nation, and should be given harsh punishment. In view of Article 19 (1) (e) of the Constitution, it is a fundamental right of non-Maharashtrians to settle in Maharashtra, just as it is a fundamental right of Maharashtrians to migrate and settle in UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, etc. Of course, if any particular non-Maharashtrian has done something illegal in Maharashtra, he can be penalised. But how can all Biharis be branded 'infiltrators' for some wrong done by other Biharis?

The 'son of the soil' theory is a theory of Balkanization of the country, and must be condemned. Those who have propounded it are not really concerned about the welfare of the people of Maharashtra; they are concerned about their vote bank.

India is broadly a country of immigrants, like the US. About 92-93% people living in India today are not the original inhabitants of India. The original inhabitants are only the pre-Dravidian tribals known as adivasis e g Bhils, Gonds, Santhals, Todas, etc; they form just 7-8% of the Indian population today.

If the 'son of the soil' theory is implemented, 93% of Maharashtrians would also have to leave Maharashtra, because they are also not sons of the soil. The only sons of the soil are the Bhils and other tribals living in Maharashtra. This shows that the theory may be fine for capturing votes, but it would lead to chaos and disaster if any serious attempt is made to implement it.

Also, the unity of India is required if our country is to prosper economically. Article 301 of the Constitution states that trade and commerce shall be free throughout the territory of India. This provision guarantees the economic unity of India, and political unity depends on economic unity. Thus, a factory in Tamil Nadu is entitled to sell its goods in UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bengal, etc.

Modern industry requires a large market. And unless modern industry emerges in India, we cannot be a prosperous nation, because agriculture alone cannot generate the wealth required for our people's education, health, employment and so on. Only united India provides such a large market. Any attempt to break up our country will therefore doom our people to poverty.

It could also be said that the 'son of the soil' theory offends section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. And being disrespectful of or bringing into contempt the Constitution of India is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years imprisonment or fine or both. Not just does the theory disrespect and bring into contempt Article 19 (1) (e) of the Constitution - hence becoming a crime - it is also an offence under section 153A of the IPC as it amounts to inciting enmity between groups of people.

Assuming that some Bihari authorities did something wrong, does it justify branding all Biharis as infiltrators in Maharashtra? Two wrongs do not make a right. The remedy, if some illegality is committed by a Bihar authority, is to file a writ petition in the Patna High Court or the Supreme Court and not to threaten Biharis living in Maharashtra. Most Biharis living in Maharashtra are poor people who have come to Maharashtra for earning their livelihood.

Also, if Biharis are chased out of Maharashtra, Maharashtrians living outside Maharashtra may meet the same fate. Where will all this end? We saw what happened when rumours were spread which created panic among people from the Northeast living in Bangalore and elsewhere.

The time has come for the nefarious designs of such selfish politicians who only care for their vote bank, even if the country breaks up, to be exposed.


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  2. Rightly said sir. I think it is high time for parliamentarians to pass an Act criminalizing, propounding or endorsing of such theories by any political party, group or an individual and awarding a strict punishment for the same. Because it is visible that whatever be the fundamental right given to people, it is not enough to save someone when goons are creating havoc and vandalizing property. Otherwise why would people had to move from Bangalore and why would a taxi driver in Mumbai live in fear? Such undesirable instances are happening because there is a room for such things to happen. Pull out the very roots of this ideology and this in no way would be a restriction of freedom of speech if the act is well drafted and precise.

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  4. What you said is perfectly correct but I wish to state a point. Suppose a majority of judges of the Supreme Court in a case make a holding which is wrong and unconstitutional, that holding will have a force of law until the court corrects it in some future case or the constitution is amended by the Parliament. In a same way if a majority of this country wrongly believe that they are bhumi putras then even if they are factually wrong their view would prevail until they start accepting that they are wrong.

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  6. I like your post very much , i like to read this article

  7. wesome post .i hope everybody will like your post

  8. speaking against the constitution is a crime. some insane man may go against the constitution often, but if he repeats and doing for his self benefit and at the same time he is not punished due to political reasons. this shows that the constitution of that country is not full proof, out of date and requires re thinking.......

  9. It is a regionalism not nationalism