September 30, 2022

Supreme Court on Unity in Diversity

“Unity in the context of a nation means unity amongst the fellow citizens. It implies integration of the citizens whereby the citizens embrace a feeling of We with a sense of bonding with fellow citizens which would definitely go a long way in holding the Indian society together.

 Emile Durkheim, French sociologist, has said that when unity is based on heterogeneity and diversity, it can very well be described as organic solidarity. Durkheims view would be acceptable in the context of the Indian society as it exhibits a completely organic social solidarity.

In St. Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi[1] , while emphasizing on the significance of Unity in Diversity, the Court has observed that the aim of our Constitution is unity in diversity and to impede any fissiparous tendencies for enriching the unity amongst Indians by assimilating the diversities. The meaning of diversity in its connotative expanse of the term would include geographical, religious, linguistic, racial and cultural differences. It is absolutely necessary to underscore that India represents a social, religious and cultural diversity.

 The Court in Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi and others v. State of U.P. and others[2]. has highlighted that religious tolerance is an important facet of Unity in Diversity and observed thus: –

Unity in diversity is the Indian culture and ethos. The tolerance of all religious faiths, respect for each other’s religion are our ethos.

These pave the way and foundation for integration and national unity and foster respect for each others religion; religious faith and belief. Integration of Bharat is, thus, its arch.

In State of Karnataka and another v. Dr. Praveen Bhai Thogadia[3], stress has been laid on Unity in Diversity treating it as the ideal way of life considering that our nation is a unification of people coming from diverse cultures, religions and races. The Court further went on to say that our nation has the world’s most heterogeneous society having a rich heritage where the Constitution is committed to the high ideas of socialism, secularism and the integrity of the nation and problems, if any, that arise on the path of the nation’s progress are mostly solved on the basis of human approaches and harmonious reconciliation of differences.

The following observations made by the Court in the aforesaid case with regard to the need to preserve the unified social fabric are also important: –

It is, therefore, imperative that if any individual or group of persons, by their action or caustic and inflammatory speech are bent upon sowing seed of mutual hatred, and their proposed activities are likely to create disharmony and disturb equilibrium, sacrificing public peace and tranquility, strong action, and more so preventive actions are essentially and vitally needed to be taken. Any speech or action which would result in ostracization of communal harmony would destroy all those high values which the Constitution aims at. Welfare of the people is the ultimate goal of all laws, and State action and above all the Constitution. They have one common object, that is to promote wellbeing and larger interest of the society as a whole and not of any individual or particular groups carrying any brand names. It is inconceivable that there can be social well being without communal harmony, love for each other and hatred for none.

Unity in Diversity must be recognized as the most potent weapon in India’s armoury which binds different and varied kinds of people in the solemn thread of humanity. This diversity is the strength of our nation and for realizing this strength, it is sine qua non that we sustain it and shun schismatic tendencies. It has to be remembered that the unique feature of Unity in Diversity inculcates in the citizens the virtue of respecting the opinions and choices of others. Such respect imbibes the feeling of acceptance of plurality and elevates the idea of tolerance by promoting social cohesion and infusing a sense of fraternity and comity.

In this context, the observations in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Lalai Singh Yadav[4] are apt:-

The State, in India, is secular and does not take sides with one religion or other prevalent in our pluralistic society. It has no direct concern with the faiths of the people but is deeply obligated not merely to preserve and protect society against breaches of the peace and violations of public order but also to create conditions where the sentiments and feelings of people of diverse or opposing beliefs and bigotries are not so molested by ribald writings or offence publications as to provoke or outrage groups into possible violent action.

Essentially, good government necessitates peace and security. Thus, for our nation to survive, without being whittled down, it is a necessary precondition that all must embrace the sentiment that they are the essential constituents of diversity that galvanizes for preservation of unity and respects pluralistic perceptions in cohesion with the constitutional ethos.”


As said by honourable supreme court in the case of Tahseen Ponnawalla v. Union of India, (2018)

[1] (1992) 1 SCC 558

[2] (1997) 4 SCC 606

[3] (2004) 4 SCC 684

[4] (1976) 4 SCC 213