Pass The Freedom of Temples Bill Now!

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For Hindus and specifically temples to be at par in this country and truly have equal rights, we need to have a permanent structural overhaul and the only way to do that will be through legislation and constitutional amendment. We the ancient inhabitants of India have always found it difficult to exercise our rights, even historically. Whenever we try to truly fight for equality we are labeled as Nazis and Dictators! And this needs to stop now. This is my petition, as an ordinary Hindu for in a bid to get what we deserve but have been denied for centuries. This is my petition to the lawmakers of our country and PM Modi to pass the 'THE CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019', a private member bill introduced by Dr. Satyapal Singh which calls for the amendments to Articles 15, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30.

The Minorities in our country have always enjoyed special provisions in the Constitution which entailed them to many privileges which range from running educational institutions to many subsidies and grants and most importantly tax-exempted income for their religious bodies. But no such exemption has ever been made to the people who constitute over 80% of our population. We have always been answerable for all our actions and any fight for our rights has been labeled as saffronization and people who fight for the cause are termed as bigots. People often assume that the minorities are weak and hence they should always be given special provisions else they will be dominated by the majority. But in India, it is just not the case. The special privileges to minorities came at the cost of zero privileges to the majority which is backed by the Indian Constitution. But what about the majority being denied a very important clause in the very constitution? The Fundamental Right to Equality.

Thus, it is extremely important now more than ever to talk about Dr. Satya Pal Singhs’ private member bill, which is popularly called the Freedom of Temples Bill. Dr. Singh is the former Police Commissioner of Mumbai who has also served as our Minister of Human Resource Development. So, what does this Bill seek? It just has an extremely simple proposition that Hindus should have the exact same rights as all other religions: minorities or otherwise.

Let us take a look at the changes the Bill is trying to achieve through Constitutional Amendment. It calls for the complete omission of clause (5) of Article 15. And as for Article 26 of the Constitutions, it says:

- “Notwithstanding anything contained in article 25, the State shall not control, administer or manage, whatsoever, any institution, including its properties, established or maintained for religious or charitable purposes by a religious denomination or any section thereof.

- All laws in force in the territory of India in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this article shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.

- The State shall not make any law which enables it to control, administer or manage, whatsoever, any institution, including its properties, established or maintained for religious or charitable purposes by a religious denomination or any section thereof, and, any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of such contravention, be void.

- In this article, the expressions "law" and "laws in force" have the same meaning as respectively assigned to them in clause (3) of Article 13.".

Similarly, for Article 27 this Bill asks for the insertion of this clause:

" No moneys out of the Consolidated Fund of India, the Consolidated Fund of a State, the Contingency Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of a State or out of the fund of any public body shall be appropriated for advancement or promotion of a section of citizens solely or primarily on the basis of their religious affiliation or belonging to one or more religious or linguistic denomination.". Similarly, for article 28, it has been recommended that the clause "Nothing in this Constitution shall be deemed to forbid the teaching of traditional Indian knowledge or ancient texts of India in any educational institution, wholly or partly maintained out of State Funds."

However, the sad part is that this bill might just not see the light of the day. Most private member bills fail to make the cut. The most important reason for private member bills failing is tactical inadequacies.  A whole lot of lobbying, advocacy, and activism will be required for The Freedom of Temples Bill to become a law. While we Hindus have been super-“active” activists, for example, Ram Janmabhoomi Movement, we have failed in terms of lobbying and activism for our rights. We have spent too much time defending ourselves but now it is time to go to the attacking front and asserting what equal rights truly mean. 

Therefore, I urge you to support this petition which supports the ethos of the Right to Equality enshrined in our Constitution. It is only with your support that this petition might see the light of the day. This Bill will ensure that all constitutional rights are equally implemented without any bias towards any community. So, please sign my petition urgently so that The Freedom of Temples Bill becomes an Act.