SC, recently has had its hands full with issues of substantial emotive appeal including the long pending Ayodhya Case arising out of the 2010 Allahabad HC case which decided to divide the land into three parts. The Civil appeals have been pending with the SC ever since.
Secondly, a more contentious issue is the the verdict on the entry of women to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. Both the verdicts were delivered by the SC on two consecutive days ie., 27 and 28 September 2018 with different views.
Ayodhya Case has been in the SC since the Allahabad HC judgement in 2010 when the HC in its wisdom divided the land onto three different parties equally. Besides, the SC also had to adjudicate on the remark then made “Mosque is not an essential part of practice of Islam”!
The SC refused to consider the question of constituting a larger bench on the issue of the remark and others.
The various pro-Mandir elements voiced satisfaction and claimed Pyrrhic victory. While the elements on the other side which had so vociferously demanded a larger bench were clearly dissatisfied according to the media releases.
Very next day an immediate and very present crisis engulfed the SC with its judgement on the contentious Sabarimala issue where the question of entry of women of certain ages was in question. The SC led by the the CJI Deepak Mishra and others decided that the restriction on entry of women of certain ages was ultra vires the Constitution as it violates the Fundamental Right of Equality leading to Gender Discrimination. The judgement was passed with a majority of 4:1 with the only woman judge on the Bench dissenting.
The history behind the restrictions on entry of women notwithstanding, SC passed an order which needed acute Political and Social consciousness for its implementation, it needed the Goodwill of the pilgrims, the people and above all a responsible government.
Unfortunately, the CPIM Government in power in Kerala was more interested in subjugation of the people rather than any amicable resolution to the impasse. It arraigned its political might against the devotees, the police responded with a high handedness reserved especially for the devotees.
The aftermath of the Sabarimala judgement has literally torn the administrative fabric of the State Of Kerala. The devotees have held more than a month of protests against the decision and have not allowed a single woman to enter the Shrine at Sabarimala ever since the SC judgement on 28 September.
Sabarimala has seen the kind of mobilization not seen in Kerala for decades. State government has asserted that the SC judgement will be honoured and the State shall make every effort to ensure implementation of the SC judgement.
While the SC has granted women the Right To Worship it surely hasn’t given any leverage in the manner the Pilgrimage is conducted after a fast of 41 days. Surprisingly, the verdict stems from a petition filed by non Kerala residents who have never ever visited the Sabarimala to perform the pilgrimage. Notwithstanding the fact that the NGO Young India is headed by a Muslim, the SC decided on the Right of Equality.
Shockingly, the attempt by Rehana Fatima to enter the shrine without the requisite fasting and other traditions seems like an attempt to demean the practices laid down over the centuries. It also raises another question, why was a Muslim woman who had never ever shown any an inclination to visit the shrine was allowed to climb up. According to certain media reports the woman in question was carrying soiled sanitary pads in her basket to throw at Lord Ayyappa. This is sacrilege!
The protests have continued even as we discuss the issue of entry of women, the fact that the Sabarimala protests have even changed the tune RSS was singing some years back is evidence enough of the potential that Sabarimala has in Kerala. In 2006, RSS had stated that it was against the restrictions imposed on the women but public opinion has forced the RSS to reshape its opinion. The fact that both RSS and the BJP are actively involved in the protests is proof of the power of public opinion on Sabarimala issue in Kerala in particular.
Even as Sabarimala razes in South, the SC on 28 October, exactly one month after the Sabarimala shocker gave yet another rude jolt to the prospect of an early hearing on the Ayodhya Case. It within minutes of sitting listed the Ayodhya Case for hearing in Jan 2019.
It summarily rejected the UP government’s appeal for an early hearing on Ayodhya title case. The statement made by the SC that the Court has its own priorities hasn’t gone down well with many sections of the Hindu society.
From Hindu Seers to VHP to RSS to muted voices of discontent by the ruling dispensation have all contributed to the angst of Hindus.
The office of the CJI has come under intense scrutiny by the votaries of RamMandir in Ayodhya. The statement accordingly trivialises the entire effort of Hindus to construct a Temple at the site which has been under litigation since 1885 when Nirmohi Akhada approached the District Collector of Faizabad with a Civil suit. The RSS Press conference had pointed out both the judgements as being violating the sentiments of the majority Hindus in the country.
Especially, the remark on own priorities has been held for specific criticism by the RSS. Manmohan Vaidya has, in a veiled criticism, questioned the propriety of such a remark which plays with the emotions of a Billion Hindu. Amit Shah BJP President, too raised the issue of Sabarimala in his speech questioning the efficacy of such judgements which can’t be implemented!
SC in its wisdom has the all the Right to pronounce judgements which are equitable, fair and justice able but it raises questions on judgements as being implementable or not?
It further raises questions whether such judgements are justice able weighing them on the parameters of social and cultural traditions, norms and values. Justice being served must be equitable not blind to sensitivities of the Society.