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An open letter to the Honorable President, Republic of India, on the SC’s observations on Nupur Sharma

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Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumarhttps://krishnakumarblog.com
Novelist, blogger, columnist and a RW liberal. Managing Trustee, Vedyah Foundation. Latest political thriller, "The New Delhi Conspiracy", co-authored with Meenakshi Lekhi, MP, is now on the stands.

To,

The Honorable President of the Republic of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi -110001

Sub: Petition against the observations of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India passed yesterday on July 1st on Nupur Sharma over her plea of clubbing multiple FIRs registered across different states over her remarks on Prophet Muhammad.

Respected President sir,

At the fag end of your fabulous and dignified tenure at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, it gives me immense pleasure to congratulate you on your impeccable and controversy-free incumbency all these years. It gives me a little hesitance to burden yourself at this hours with a public-interest petition but since the matter pertains to the shaken conscience of a billion plus population, the exigency of it can’t be more pronounced.

Sir, I wish to draw your kind attention to the observations of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India yesterday on Nupur Sharma over her plea on clubbing multiple FIRs registered across different states over her remarks on Prophet Muhammad. The impugned observations and the judgement of the honorable bench of the SC doesn’t only violate the unassailable judicial conscience but also fails to pass the test of reasonableness, legality and constitutional validity.

Instead of drawing your time-consuming attention to the nitty gritty of legalities in the matter which, as a legal luminary you must yourself be much better aware of, I’d solicit your valuable attention on few very small, yet pertinent, points that carry grave implications:

1. By refusing to give Ms Nupur Sharma the legal relief by allowing to club together the multiple FIRs in the country, the SC has robbed her of her right to equality and fair treatment before law. The robbing becomes more conspicuous in view of the fact that such a precedence has been set by the SC itself and applied more recently in the case of the journalist Arnab Goswami.

2. Further, by denying Ms Sharma an equal treatment of law by suggesting that she can’t expect to get the relief available to a journalist, the SC has now consciously created a new class of unequals where the relief available to some ‘X’ class of citizens shall not be available to a ‘Y’ class in similar situations. I needn’t emphasize that such artificial and whimsical categorisation is legally untenable as it violates the fundamental right of equality available to all citizens under Art 14 of the Constitution.

3. Importantly, and most dangerously, by pronouncing Ms Sharma’s statement as the reason behind the murder of a tailor in Udaipur, the honourable bench has overtly justified physical violence in the name of religious sentiments being hurt, and in it’s eerie enthusiasm to buttress the position, the bench has walked considerable miles as it adjudged her to be the “single most factor” behind the explosive situation in the country.

Thus, the SC observations give the religious fanatics in the country the virtual license to kill anyone and everyone within their reach at their sole subjective satisfaction. This makes the majority of the Indian population vulnerable to murderous violence and assaults all around by religious fanatics striking with complete sense of impunity following the SC observations. As a corollary, even the other courts in India may wish to take a lenient view in incidents of communal/jihadist murders and violence in future, believing that the highest court may condone them!

4. Fourthly, by refusing to club the multiple FIRs as prayed, the SC has, in a way, forced Ms Nupur Sharma to travel across hostile locations in the country under constant threat to her life. It makes her a sitting duck for the marauding fanatics trailing her all along. This way, the SC, has denied her fundamental right to life, i.e. her basic right to live in the country – unharmed and without fear. Isn’t this tantamount to condoning her murder and death by the honourable SC?

5. Will the same yardstick be applied by the SC while trying the cases of Hindu offenders killing a Muslim for butchering a cow, as, much in the same way as a Muslim can’t put up with his prophet being insulted, the Hindus can’t put up with cows being killed? Will the SC hold that victim responsible for his death? Religious sentiments hurt both ways!

So, the SC’s yesterday’s observations will bring forth many complex questions that will open the Pandora’s box of complexities not for the judiciary alone but for the nation and the society on a larger level.

6. Legal experts have been effusive in pointing to glaring loopholes in the said observations of the SC, yet as a Sanatani Hindu, what hurts me the most is the realization that, following the SC order, the society is certain to drift to an obscurantist and mediaeval waters where liberty and tolerance will be nothing but sin!

This is not our Indian culture, which has evolved over thousands of years on wonderful traditions of debates, discussions and acceptance of differences, and which has consistently respected one’s right to question through scholarly citations. So, I wonder is that tradition going to be given a final burial by the SC? Many hear the hoofs of an impending Sharia society in India where scholarly traditions would be nothing but a Satanic sin, and a scholarly questioner would be nothing but dead – brutally beheaded! All this under fervent patronage of the highest courts of India!!

The argument may look a bit stretched too far, but the arguments of the Zoroastrian Persia being wiped out one day must have been treated similarly stretched too far in the 7th century! And it happened, even so without a fervent SC in place in the 7th century Persia!

7. Shoot and scoot – the policy that best suits to those who fear accountability – seems to have become the new mantra of the SC. Some motormouth judges always find it convenient to shoot from the mouth than to give their words in writing; they know well that a verbal observation would hit all their targets without ever being challenged. This is the high time to impose a complete ban on all forms of verbal observations of the courts from being reported in media; a media house should be allowed to report only from the written judgements and observations.

Thus, am I wrong if it leads me to the suspicion that ample professional standards have not been applied and that boundaries of rationality, reasonableness and fairness have not been touched in pronouncing the observations by the honourable bench of the SC?

Even the least objective observer would acquiesce here that the SC’s observations stand stained by the colours of individual subjectivity and ideological prejudices. The hallowed grounds of objectivity, professionalism and neutrality are run over by personal emotions of the two ‘individuals’ sitting inside the exterior of the two judges in the courtroom. In their apparent enthusiasm to settle scores with larger political establishment, the ‘individuals’ seem to have found the right shoulder in Nupur Sharma to fire their bullets. But, sadly the bullets are on their way to kill many wrong birds.

Hon’ble President, I’m not writing you with the request to use your good office to exercise the constitutional powers available with you to see how such a judgement could be reviewed or rectified; I request that please certainly do whatever you could in this regard, but to request only this from you would be asking too little from an office as big as yours. Therefore, I’m writing this with the request to kindly use your good office to help evolve and put into place a system in Indian judiciary that could liberate the judges from the sinister subjectivity and emotions of the ‘individuals’ lurking within them in the revered courtrooms. The Collegium System, certainly is not that system; it has failed the judges many times over!

As a layman, I wish to convey you the voice of millions of our countrymen that reforms in Indian judiciary is all about reforms in the system of selection of judges. So, as you stand on the threshold of a new life outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan, what better way to create a lasting legacy can be there, than to set off some positive reactions in the Indian judicial system, so that it could shake off it’s seven decades of inertia and rise up to the challenges of the new India – the young and modern India that wants accountability at all level. Who cares if you’re a judge from the Supreme Court!

Regards,

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Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumarhttps://krishnakumarblog.com
Novelist, blogger, columnist and a RW liberal. Managing Trustee, Vedyah Foundation. Latest political thriller, "The New Delhi Conspiracy", co-authored with Meenakshi Lekhi, MP, is now on the stands.
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