CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


"Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?


THE unanimous judgement on the masjid-mandir dispute by India's Supreme Court on Saturday could readily mutate into a legal basis to build a theocratic state on the rubble of India's 72-year old democracy, reactions from legal eagles and political analysts indicate. On the other hand, a surge of sympathy for Indian Muslims can stymie Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hardline Hindutva.  

Adverse electoral results in two key states have already dented his cultivated image of invincibility.

The Kashmir siege and a citizen's register to exclude Muslims are the other chestnuts in the fire. Both could produce surprising results.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, has awarded the disputed 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya to a new trust to build a temple to Lord Ram at the precise site where the 16th century Babri Masjid was illegally razed on Dec 6, 1992. The court also ordered five acres of land to be allocated to Muslims to build a mosque.

Jurist Faizan Mustafa saw the verdict as weighing in in favour of religion over facts.  

After all, in a reaction that the judges may not have anticipated, Hindutva leaders have already started discussing two more mosques, in Mathura and Varanasi, they claim were built by destroying Hindu temples.  

"Based on the operative parts of the judgement, it looks like the Supreme Court gave importance to belief over other concerns," Mr Mustafa said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "The court, even while observing that faith is limited to individual believer and that it cannot determine a land dispute, eventually gave the disputed land for the construction of a Hindu temple. This means that belief of a section of people was given prominence over the rule of law even though the latter should have ideally determined a property dispute."

The judges noted to their credit that the placing of the Ram idols inside the mosque in 1949, to precipitate a legal dispute, as well as the 1992 demolition supported by the petitioners, was illegal. They did not find evidence too that the Babri Masjid was constructed on the site of a Hindu temple after demolishing it under Mughal Emperor Babur's instructions, as claimed by Hindutva litigants. The fear yet is that the verdict, unwittingly perhaps, would add grist to majoritarian violence, interpreted increasingly as Indian nationalism.  

A Gandhi-like reaction to the verdict came from Mahatma Gandhi's grandson. "If the Gandhi murder case was to be retried by the Supreme Court today, the verdict would be: Nathuram Godse is a murderer but he is also a desh bhakt (patriot)," Mumbai-based Tushar Gandhi said in a tweet.  

Expressing reservations to the fact that the bench had ordered land for a mosque, legal experts saw it as offering reparations. In other words, the court implied that someone was wounded or discriminated against to deserve compensation. If the Muslim case was weak, they didn't deserve an inch of any land, the argument goes. If not, they should have been awarded the rubbled site for which they were fighting.  

Some groups like Jamiatul Ulema e Hind said they were happy to abide the court's orders and would not seek a review of the verdict.

Muslim MP Asaduddin Owaisi, however, offered a different view. "The Supreme Court is supreme, but not infallible," Mr Owaisi said. "The judgement was awaited because we were fighting for justice. If the need was of five acres of land, I could have begged for the same in the streets of Hyderabad and the citizens would have donated the same to me."  

There was oblique redemption for academics, chiefly liberal historians, who have been at the receiving end of Hindutva's full blast of rewriting the past. To their credit, the judges rejected garbled history on offer from the Hindutva petitioners, who cited an amalgam of mythology, beliefs and spurious archaeological evidence to press their case.  

Seeking the bench's permission to tear up one such document that purported to show the exact point of Lord Ram's birth, senior counsel for the Muslim case, Rajiv Dhawan said: "This is Supreme Court and not a joke."  

In Mr Mustafa's view, the judgement was fair in terms of religious freedom but went beyond its own aversion to taking sides in such matters. "When a party asserts freedom of religion, the court cannot enter into the debate on whether faith is rational or irrational, justified or unjustified, "Mr Mustafa said.

"However, when it comes to the property dispute, the court seems to have weighed religious belief over the rule of law. The court while pronouncing the judgement did try its best to strike a balance between law and faith. But clearly faith has the last laugh here." 

The main beneficiaries of the Supreme Court's verdict on Saturday are organically linked to the main accused in the crime of demolishing the mosque. "And that's not good for India," wrote Siddharth Varadarajan in The Wire portal.

"None of this should surprise us since we were never dealing with a civil dispute between litigants operating on a level playing field but a naked power play. One in which the political agenda of the 'cultural' Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not hidden and the biases of the Uttar Pradesh and Central governments are on open display." 

Prime Minister Modi saw solutions coming from the verdict and appealed for calm. He was the pilot of the chariot his mentor L.K. Advani rode to whip up the frenzy that destroyed the mosque. That case is still pending.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019      

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  •