Ideas

Justice Malhotra Has Displayed The Balance And Restraint Required Of A Superior Court Judge

The Sabarimala pilgrims and the Supreme Court of India.
Snapshot
  • Why the Sabarimala verdict cannot be selective for Hindus alone.

In the Sabarimala verdict, it must be said with respect that the majority judges have gone overboard and not displayed the balance and restraint required of a judge of a superior court. Only Justice Indu Malhotra has done so.

There are thousands of temples, mosques, gurdwaras in India, each having their own unique rituals and practices. The judiciary will create huge, insuperable problems by interfering in these. But by its verdict in the Sabarimala case, the Supreme Court has opened a Pandora's box, and embarked on a perilous unpredictable path of hyper activism, reminiscent of the US Supreme Court's behaviour in the 1930s which almost led to disastrous results.

Will the Supreme Court now apply the ratio of its Sabarimala verdict to Muslim mosques also? Hardly 1 or 2 per cent mosques allow entry to Muslim women, who have to pray at home. In theory, there may be no bar, but in practice there is, and it is practice which matters, not theory.

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Many Muslims justify this by saying there is shortage of space in mosques. But then should not the principle ‘ladies first’ apply, and Muslim women be allowed to enter and pray inside the mosque, while Muslim men be made to pray outside? Or a system devised by giving 50 per cent entry to each gender?

The Sabarimala verdict cannot be selective for Hindus alone.

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