CJI has no fans in ‘God’s own Country’

Sushil Kutty

The Supreme Court is on a roll and women everywhere are on fire with #MeToo turning into a #WeToo chorus. As far as court judgements go, when they ring false on one thing, they ring false on all things. So, if the verdict on Sabarimala rang false for those opposing women’s entry to Sabarimala, the ruling on Bhima Koregaon didn’t strike true for rights activists.
Both rulings left in their wake also anger. Will feminist Trupti Desai be able to gather courage to head for Sabarimala in this life? Doubt it, for there is a sneaking feeling that mission accomplished, her work’s done and she wouldn’t be seen anywhere near the shining beacon on the hill at least in her this life; maybe next time when ‘she’ could be born a ‘he’.
Is that too strong a statement, bigoted? No, for the likes of Malayali Rahul Easwar, if he was looking for fair justice, he was in the wrong town at the wrong time. At the end of the day, the only person who wore pants on the bench turned out to be the woman judge, Justice Indu Malhotra. The four men on the august top court bench showed pink slips.
It was not scenic beauty that Trupti Desai wanted to turn Sabarimala into but has probably succeeded to do so. What’s the difference between a water park and Sabarimala? The people who wanted to overturn a centuries old religious tradition are not from Sabarimala Country. They are from a branch of irreligious contradiction whose only goal is to establish Venus in Mars.
Sabarimala country is Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, it’s not Trupti’s town in Maharashtra or regions up north. And there is this bunch of #RightToWait women from Sabarimala country who are unhappy with a verdict that has reduced Sabarimala to just another temple. To them, Sabarimala is a school of advaita founded by Lord Ayyappa on the values of Brahmacharya and, for them, the Supreme Court stepped into uncharted territory for women.
Justice Indu Malhotra got it right for lakhs of women in Sabarimala country. She held that it is not for the court to interfere in religious practices of a sect, even if it appeared discriminatory in nature. But her solitary voice was drowned in the openly biased towards gender equality assertions of her male colleagues on the bench.
She probably understands the issue better than the bulldozing Trupti Desai. Justice Malhotra was emphatic that the right to practice religion is a fundamental right, but religious practices are protected. The other justices limited themselves to the view that Article 25 protects equal entitlement of all persons to freely practice religion. Justice Malhotra believed “Article 25 protects essential practice.”
She found resonance when she insisted that “equality in matters of religion must be viewed in the context of the worshippers of the same faith” and that only such religious practices should be struck off the statute which were “evil”, like Sati. Needless to say Justice Indu Malhotra won the faith of legions in Kerala while CJI Dipak Misra, in “his progressive garb”, was not the favourite man of Justice in God’s Own Country on Friday.
The marauding floods, which left Sabarimala and Kerala underwater, have receded but it will take a long time before a menstruating woman treks to the hill-shrine. The naysayers are planning to go for a special review. The state government, which sided with Trupti Desai, now has the burden to ensure that she gets to enter Sabarimala. Will the government wash its hands off this delicate task? Intimidating? Just desserts!
The Supreme Court with its 4-1 judgement hit the ball out of the park but now to go out and find the ball in the jungles of Sabarimala is daunting task. It’s going to get far worse before it gets better. Progressive journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted that her “minor crush” on the SC was threatening to become a major one! But, as Lord Ayyappa is witness, the Bhima Koregaon ruling that followed did not help the major crush any. Like said, in another context, the Supreme Court like God acts in mysterious ways. (IPA)

Tuesday, 9 October, 2018