THURSDAY
February 17, 2000
volume 11, no. 34
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INDIAN CHURCH OPPOSES CONSTITUTION REVIEW COMMITTEE

    NEW DELHI (CWNews.com) - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) has bluntly opposed the decision of the coalition government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to appoint an 11-member committee to review the Indian Constitution -- joining the chorus of protests over the "controversial decision."

    "This is not meant for the betterment of the country or the people. It has a political agenda (behind it)," said Bishop Oswald Gracias, CBCI Secretary General, addressing a crowded press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.

    Earlier in the day, CBCI president Archbishop Alan Basil de Lastic of Delhi wrote to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee saying: "The Christian community together with other minorities and civil society were greatly surprised" with the announcement of the Constitution Review Committee on Sunday.

    "We would like to register our strong reservations, and our protest, at the setting up of the commission to review the statutes. The greatest institution -- the Parliament of India -- has been bypassed, the (federal) Presidency not only not consulted but ignored," wrote the archbishop. This pointed to the "undemocratic" manner in which the 11-member panel was hand-picked by the BJP-led government without even consulting the two-dozen political parties supporting the BJP-led coalition.

    "We fear no democratically acceptable result can come from a structure which is itself rooted in what the people perceive to be undemocratic decisions," said Archbishop Lastic demanding urgent convening of the 150-member National Integration Council "to discuss the circumstances in which the government set up the commission to review the constitution of India."

          

February 17, 2000
volume 11, no. 34
NEWS & VIEWS

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