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Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Original Fascist : Nehru’s Suppression of Freedom of Expression

Fascism runs in the blood of the Nehru family. If Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi displayed her fascist tendency by imposing the emergency, then it was Bharat’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru who drastically curbed freedom of speech and expression by bringing in the first amendment to Bharat’s constitution.

No matter how hard the brown sepoys of Bharat try to project Nehru as a “tall leader” of Bharat, the fact remains that he was extremely intolerant of opposing views and could hardly take criticism. The first amendment placing curbs on freedom of speech was a direct result of his inability to accept his mistakes and criticism directed at him by RSS-backed weekly Organiser. 

The weekly was said to be critical of the Nehru government for failing to ensure the protection of Hindus who became victims of the widespread post-partition communal violence in Dhaka and other parts of Pakistan.

Shri Arun Anand points out how Nehru clamped down on the weekly that criticized the then Prime Minister’s policies. In his article published in The Print, Anand says:

In February 1950, the weekly published several reports critical of the Nehru government. These reports criticized the then Prime Minister’s policies and brought to the fore the plight of thousands of Hindu refugees, who were forced to migrate from East Pakistan to West Bengal after they were targeted in widespread communal violence.

The weekly demanded that the Muslim evacuee property should be distributed to Hindu refugees as they were forced to exchange blood for bread at blood banks.

As Nehru was facing heavy criticism for proposing confidence-building measures with Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, when Hindus were being targeted, the weekly published cartoons of Nehru and Liaquat and in a piece titled ‘Villains vs Fools’, it wrote, “the villainy of Pakistan is matched only by our idiocy”.

An infuriated Nehru decided to clamp down on the Organiser. On 2 March 1950, the Central Press Advisory, a regulatory body under the Nehru government, met to discuss what had been published by the weekly. On the same day itself, an order to gag the weekly was issued by the Chief Commissioner of Delhi.

It was a ‘pre-censorship order’ and was issued under the notorious East Punjab Public Safety Act. This order made it mandatory for the editor and the publisher to submit to the government for approval, all content related to communal issues or Pakistan. It also included cartoons.

The then Organiser editor KR Malkani, however, refused to back down and be cowed down by Nehru’s tactics. In his 13 March editorial, Malkani wrote “If the administration earnestly wants ugly facts not to appear in the press, the only right and honest course for it is effectively to exert itself for the non-occurrence of such brutal facts. Suppression of facts is no solution to the Bengal tragedy. Surely the government does not hope to extinguish a volcano by squatting more tightly on its crater.”

The Organiser took the government to court and on 10 April 1950, publisher and printer Brij Bhushan and Malkani approached the apex court through lawyer NC Chatterjee to get the pre-censorship order quashed. The case became famous in constitutional history as Brij Bhushan Vs the state of Delhi. Chatterjee put forward the argument that the order not only infringed upon freedom of speech but also that there are no constitutional provisions for the law under which the Nehru government passed the pre-censorship order.

Justice MC Chagla in his public lecture at Pune on May 1 strongly criticized the Nehru government:

The Constitution had not left it to the party in power in the legislature or the caprice of the executive to limit, control, or impair any fundamental rights. The right to express an opinion, however critical it might be of the government or society as constituted, was one of the most fundamental rights of the individual in a democratic form of government.

The Supreme Court’s 26 May 1950 order was in favor of the Organiser and the apex court while quashing the pre-censorship order noted that under Article 19 of the Constitution, restrictions could be imposed on freedom of expression only in certain cases that were given in clause 2 of the Article. Public order was not one of the grounds, so no restriction on the freedom of expression could be imposed on the grounds of ‘Public order’.

The first amendment through which severe curbs were imposed on freedom of speech and expression was a direct result of the defeat of the Nehru government in the apex court. The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 was moved by Nehru on 10 May 1951 and was passed on 18 June 1951.

The secular Lutyens cabal that keeps hailing Nehru as a visionary would never tell that he was a fascist who was opposed to all opinions contrary to his views.

(Featured Image Source: Economic Times)

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