New Delhi, December 4 Former Chief Justice of India Justice AM Ahmadi on Saturday urged the civil society to wake up from the deep slumber to save the constitution and rule of the law in the country.
In his presidential remarks at a symposium on ‘Save the Constitution: Role of Civil Society’, Justice Ahmadi cautioned the people to anticipate as what would happen if the rule of laws collapsed in the country.
“We, the People of India, had given ourselves the Constitution which was now in jeopardy” he said while referring to the recent Allahabad High Court verdict on Babri Masjid title suit. He termed it as a Panchayati settlement and asked the civil society to take up the case to the apex court even if the court did not entertain it.
He said that the Ayodhya judgment was not a ‘question of Hindus and Muslims’, but an issue of the integrity of the Constitution. He lamented that any organ of the democratic polity did not reflect the diversity of the country and all the major political parties guided only by a certain group of people who belong to a particular religion.
Participating in the discussion, a host of legal luminaries, retired judges and intellectuals expressed dismay over crumbling moral values in the country. Eminent historian Prof. K.M. Shrimali said the “civil society as a victim and sufferer” of erosion of constitutional values should have the right to appeal. He described the Ayodhya verdict as “destructive” for constitutional values as it vindicated and legalised the destruction of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
“The mosque was destroyed on December 6, 1992; the spirit of law was demolished on September 30, 2010.” He underlined.
He came down heavily on the media for tom-toming and legitimising the twin destructions. “The civil society is gradually getting numbed”, he lamented, adding that the judiciary had begun to distance itself from human rights concerns, thus promoting the numbing process. As a member of Delhi University Teachers Association he narrated how a part of the judiciary had distanced itself from trade union issues. He remarked that to a greater extent the judiciary was communalized.
While echoing the views, eminent constitutional expert P.P. Rao pointed out that people behind the destruction of Babri Masjid were not promoting fraternity, which was an important goal of the Constitution. Of late, the law, too, had not been of great help.
The placing of idols in the Babri Masjid in 1949 was “an act of trespass” and the destruction of the mosque was an “act of mischief”. The Ayodhya verdict, by legitimizing the two had jeopardized the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution.
Former Professor of the Dept. of Religious Studies, Punjab University, Chandigarh, Dr. B. S. Siddhu pointed out that the civil society was under the influence of Hindutva ideology. Recalling the Shaheed Ganj mosque case, he said ‘though it was originally a mosque but the successive court judgments upheld that it now a Gurdwara’. The gurdwara still stand in Lahore.
Sikh representative Sardar RS Chatwal deplored that the civil society was nowhere when Sikhs were massacred in Delhi 1984.
Owing to failure of the constitution, Justice AS Qureshi observed that the country could not become a nation but a conglomeration of nations.
Many speakers lamented that the credibility of the judiciary has been eroded to a larger extent. Noted lawyer of the Bombay High Court, Yusuf Hatim Muchhala observed that the judiciary had gradually withdrawn itself from human rights concerns like food and shelter.
“Even though the Narmada dam’s height has been further increased, the tribal communities displaced by it are yet to be resettled”. He saw it as another evidence of judiciary’s decline, which was a terrible omen for liberty.
Prof. Sudip Jain said more than 100 Jain temples were turned into Hindu temples under possession of Hindus but nobody raised the question about it.
In his remarks the Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, the chairman of the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) which organized the seminar said: “Our ‘gantantra’ (republic) is on way to becoming a combination of ‘gun and tantra. This ‘gun-tantra’ was run by the mafia and tantriks. That was, by the way, not a laughing matter”.
Former Chief Justice J&K High Court Justice B A Khan, lawyer M M Kashyap, Dr M D Thomas, Prof. T K Oommen, Dr Rahul Dass, Secretary Buddhist Upasak Sangh and others also participated in the discussion.