Speaker of the House of the Representatives, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, says that Jamaica’s Constitution has evolved to meet the needs of a changing society.
She noted that the most significant change to the Constitution has been the insertion of a Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2011.
“The Charter, among other things, protects our right to life and to liberty, our right to freedom of thought, of conscience, belief and the observance of political doctrines and equality under the law,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert was speaking at a Constitution Day reception held on Friday (November 26) at the High Commission of India, St. Andrew, to commemorate India’s Constitution Day under the theme ‘Constitutionalism – The Foundation of Good Governance: Shared Experiences’.
The Speaker of the House, who is also an attorney-at-law, noted that types of inequalities can exist within a society. She said that the Jamaica’s Constitution has been, in many cases, the great equaliser and has diminished the differences that have been created by wealth, or the lack thereof, and other socio-economic factors.
Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert said that constitutionalism is the foundation of good governance, noting that at the heart of India’s Constitution Day celebration is the ideal of good governance, which has as its aim “the overall well-being of persons that a government is committed to serve”.
“This well-being is reflected in a society where the rights of citizens are clearly defined and protected, where their views are listened to, where they are respected and the society, as a whole, is cohesive,” she said.
Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert said that the keys to attaining these goals are founded on “sound governance structures in the form of an empowered and accountable executive, an independent and competent judiciary and a transparent and responsive legislator.”
She said that citizens of democratic countries ought to reflect on the many aspects of their lives that they now take for granted, which had its genesis in the Constitution of their respective countries.
In his remarks, High Commissioner of India to Jamaica, His Excellency Rungsung Masakui, said that India has demonstrated to the world, that people can be governed with freedom.
He noted that India has 2,599 registered political parties and some 1,652 languages are spoken in the country.
Additionally, he said, India has 100,000 registered newspapers and 902 television stations, one of which is owned by the Government and the remainder by the private sector.
“It is possible to achieve inclusive economic growth without sacrificing democracy and diversity, without compromising the values of pluralism, dialogue and tolerance, which are the core values of our society,” he pointed out.
The High Commissioner said that more than 100 amendments were made to India’s Constitution in the past 70 years.
“India’s Constitution is a growing Constitution, a learning Constitution that accommodates the aspirations of the people of India as mandated by the changing times of the modern world,” he said.
The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949 and came into force on January 26, 1950.