Thursday, July 21, 2016

Editorial, TEMPLES, SPORTS & JUDICIAL OVERREACH, in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 15 April 2016 issue, Vol. 12: Part 1, No. 7

Nobody can find fault with authorities, especially the judiciary, if they want and try to enforce the fundamental rights of people. But the problem arises when they try to make and impose even ostensibly well-motivated decisions in a hurry and in an arbitrary manner, especially when they take one particular community to be granted and override the traditionalist objections to what they perceive as ‘affront to gender justice’ in a huff. Tripti Desai and her Bhumata Brigade might be motivated by high ideals, or any unknown political ambitions, and may have made a point in pointing out to the ‘gender injustice’ in denying them entry into the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ of the Shani Shingnapur Temple. But the High Court of Bombay seems to have, without calling for opinions of various religious heads of that community and wider public discussions, ruled arbitrarily that under Constitution there can be no discrimination between male and female, as all are citizens entitled to fundamental rights, overlooking the glaring fact that out of thousands of temples in India only 3-4 bar the entry of women per custom and local usage, and also turning a blind eye to another section of lakhs of women from other religious communities who are not allowed even to enter and pray in their places of worship. This would certainly cause a lot of rankling in the hearts of the majority community, which in general is tolerant and liberal, and also fast reforming itself and adapting to complex situations. Likewise the decision to direct the IPL cricket organizers to shift the matches to outside Maharashtra, in view of what is perceived as serious drought in that State, also looks stupid, to say the least. The matches seem to be planned and decided long back, even before any signs of the serious drought visiting the state were apparent, and in any case it would not help relieving the drought victims in any way. On the contrary, if the High Court were to order, after due persuasion, the IPL management to bring trainloads of drinking water at their cost, supply free water bottles to the audience and spectators, and also open several piyaavus (free drinking water counters) for the benefit of general public in the cities where matches are held, it would have been of immense benefit to the people as also to the income of the State. In either case judicial overreach is apparent, which is a cardinal ‘sin’ from which a conscientious judiciary should abstain. §§§

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