Is SC Verdict On Jallikattu A Sign Of Its Growing Cultural Sensitivity? Real Test Case Is Sabarimala
The one gain from the Jallikattu verdict, and the change in tune on same-sex marriages, is that the highest court is not resistant to cultural arguments or logic.
One hopes it gets out of its colonised mindset and starts looking at Indian issues with an Indic lens.
A Supreme Court constitutional bench headed by Justice K M Joseph has . It also allowed two other bull-racing sports in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Coming around nine years after , this about-turn is a kind of unstated mea culpa.
The bench suggested it will not interfere with the legislature’s view that Jallikattu is part of the state’s cultural heritage.
According to , the court said: “We will not disrupt the view of the legislature…since the legislature has taken the view that it is part of the cultural heritage of the state…”.
This is unusual, for the Supreme Court has, in the past, ridden rough-shod over cultural sensitivities.
It has curbed the use of crackers during Diwali, imposed restrictions on the height of the human pyramid during Janmashtami celebrations, and ended the Sabarimala bar on women in the reproductive age since the deity, Swami Ayyappa, is worshipped as a Naisthika Brahmachari, an eternal celibate.
What one does not know is whether this is only a partial retreat on the part of a court due to the political pressures brought on by the Tamil Nadu government, or a more welcome rethink on its part about rushing to judgement on cultural practices in general, especially if they happen to be Hindu in character.
We saw evidence of the latter in April, when the constitutional bench headed by the Chief Justice, . He said this when hearing pleas to allow same-sex marriages.
The bench even considered bringing same-sex marriages within the ambit of the Special Marriage Act, a law specifically devised by Parliament to allow for inter-faith or inter-caste marriages.
But as the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, the court started changing its stand.
Mehta made two points: he said that “recognition of same sex marriage will open 160 other laws for change. Is this a matter for the court to decide or a matter of legislative policy?”
He also wondered how the courts can legalise matters about the LGBTQIA+ group, with the plus sign indicating that many self-declared genders can be inconclusive or even whimsical.
Now, with the bench reserving its verdict in the case, the indications are that it will limit itself to issuing a on the validity of same-sex marriage, without trying to amend any particular law, which is within the purview of legislatures. This will have limited impact on the ground.
One hopes that when the Supreme Court finally gets down to reviewing the Sabarimala case, it will look at the cultural rights of the devotees involved.
The only problem is that the Left Front government in Kerala may not be as supportive of Hindu culture as the DMK government was on Jallikattu.
The one gain from the Jallikattu verdict, and the change in tune on same-sex marriages, is that the highest court is not resistant to cultural arguments or logic. One hopes it gets out of its colonised mindset and starts looking at Indian issues with an Indic lens.
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