|ALL INDIA MUSLIM
Supreme Court on 2 Child Norm Unreasonable on Democratic Grounds
Mushawarat Suggests Constitutional Amendment to Declare Right to Contest Election as Fundamental Right
New Delhi, 31 July, 2003: Shri Syed Shahabuddin, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), has issued the following Statement:
"The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the 2 child norm in the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 which bars person with more than 2 children from contesting election as Sarpanch or Upsarpanch of the Panchayats.
The Supreme Court has rightly rejected the plea by Muslim aspirants on the ground of religious freedom.
However, it has upheld the restriction on the right to contest an election as reasonable in view of the ‘torrential increase of population’, which may led to enactment of similar laws for elections to legislatures and other elected bodies.
The judgement of the Supreme Court raises many political, social, moral and ethical questions without in any way solving the population problem.
Firstly, the Supreme Court has observed that the right to contest is not a fundamental right. But Democracy is a basic structure of the Constitution. There can be no democracy without election and there can be no election without contest.
From the point of the view of the electorate, this law means a curb on his free choice. Why should the electors be forced not to vote for a candidate who commands its respect due to his reputation for integrity, wisdom and hard work, only because he has more than the prescribed number of children?
Why should a person be thrown out of public life, if he or she has a third child?
Secondly, the Act is discriminatory in so far as it does not apply to election of the members of the Panchayats.
Thirdly, there is no nexus between population control and the fecundity of the Panchs or Sarpanchs and of Legislators. A restriction of their right to contest any election is in our view totally unreasonable for the reasons given below:
a) A person may have only 2 off-springs from his legally wedded wife but the number of illegitimate children he may have fathered is limitless. Moreover, society permits a man to indulge in prostitution and in promiscuous contract marriage.
b) Biological procreativity has no impact on a person’s popularity, if his zeal for public service, his integrity and his effectiveness in public life are known and admired.
c) The argument that elected representatives serve as role models for the rest of the community is hardly convincing. Today’s average elected representative is seen as corrupt and bullish and he cannot serve as a role model except for law-breaking and high living.
d) Population control can be effected by educational and socio-economic development and by making quality health service universally available which would lower the child mortality rate and raise life expectancy at birth. Both will reduce the urge to have more than two children. Also, the craze for a son can be changed through social and religious reform.
If there is a lacunae in the Constitution, it needs to be immediately attended to you by Constitutional amendment which will incorporate the right to vote and the right to contest as Fundamental Rights.
Sd/- Syed Shahabuddin
ALL INDIA MUSLIM
N-44, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi - 110 025 Phone: 2632
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