A duty to curb intolerance

  • It must be remembered that a ban on the exhibition of a movie affects the fundamental rights of the producer under the Constitution’s Article 19(1)(a) — the freedom of speech and expression — and also his fundamental right of carrying on trade and business under Article 19(1)(g).
  • True, no fundamental right is absolute. However, the restriction has to be reasonable, not arbitrary and should be in accordance with due process of law.
  • Raja Rammohan Roy’s efforts for reform in the Hindu religion, especially for the abolition of Sati, evoked virulent opposition. We must ensure that we do not revert to those dark days, implicit in the move of the Uttarakhand government that producers of a movie shall mandatorily execute the bond. We must keep in mind the celebrated judgment of the Supreme Court in S Rangarajan vs. P Jagjivan Ram which said, “we must practise tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself” (emphasis mine).
  • The danger of intolerance and the need to eliminate it has been recognised by the UN Declaration on Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief that was adopted on November 25, 1981. Its preamble inter alia expresses its concern on the prevalence of intolerance.
  • The Declaration resolves to adopt all necessary measures for the speedy elimination of intolerance in all its manifestations. Article 4 of the Declaration inter alia requires all states to take appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter.
  • Intolerance is the violation of human rights.
  • It must be curbed whenever it manifests itself. We cannot afford to be complacent. This is a duty which must be performed without equivocation. Remember the failure to do so puts our democracy in grave risk.


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