“Above reason”

This

But by their very nature, faith and belief have no factual basis. They are above reason. And if push comes to shove, they aren’t answerable to norms of legality laid down by mere mortals.

is the only disappointing part in Padgaonkar’s piece on the Ayodhya verdict. Faith is neither above nor beyond reason. It is answerable to reason, but often does not because people prefer blindness to sight.

That said, in a country where the concept of rights has been completely corrupted, it is naive to presume that the courts would show any consistency when it came to the question of property rights. The verdict of the Allahabad HC, or at least the reasoning behind the same, is a joke. The case before the HC was a title suit. If the title deeds and property records don’t clarify matters related to ownership, one has to fall back on homesteading. Ownership is assigned to the one who has been using/maintaining the premises for the longest time. If the division in three parts were based on such reasoning, one wouldn’t have questioned it. But the decision, instead, is based on “faith and belief,” and the idea of compromise. It is political. Ram Jethmalani, who has called the verdict an example of “judicial statesmanship,” says-

In India, secularism is not a denial of religion, it is subjecting religion to the rule of reason.

If only.

Beyond the question of rights, the pleadings of the political class are pure nonsense. The Supreme Court may be the last court of appeal, but is not the end of the road. As successive governments have repeatedly proven, if they find a particular decision of the court to be detrimental to their interests, they nullify it through the parliamentary process. The same can be done here too. Whatever the decision of the SC, the parliament can always pass a law decreeing that the mosque be completely demolished, and a temple be built in its place, or that the mosque itself be rebuilt. If it’s challenged in the courts as “unconstitutional,” the constitution itself can be amended. The only thing that might prevent such a thing is the fear of a backlash from the two communities.

Siddharth Varadarajan writing in The Hindu on the reasoning of the court-

Collectives in India have faith in all sorts of things but “faith” cannot become the arbiter of what is right and wrong in law. Nor can the righting of supposed historical wrongs become the basis for dispensing justice today.

[…]

In suggesting a three way partition of the site, the High Court has taken a small step towards the restoration of the religious status quo ante which prevailed before politicians got into the act. But its reasoning is flawed and even dangerous. If left unamended by the Supreme Court, the legal, social and political repercussions of the judgment are likely to be extremely damaging.

Padgaonkar continues in a similar vein-

This is the road that the three judges chose to tread. They looked upon Lord Ram not as a mythological figure who, given his exemplary life and character, dwells in the hearts of millions of Hindus, but as a historical character. This explains the court’s willingness to identify the precise location of his place of birth. The exercise did not call for a shred of evidence. None was sought and none was forthcoming. It was undertaken simply because the faith and belief of Hindus decreed that the Lord was born under the central dome of the mosque that was razed to the ground.

Once faith and belief are factored into a resolution of a legal tangle, you embark, swiftly and surely, on the slippery slope of majoritarian conceit.

Who gets what share is immaterial. It’s the reasoning that is important. And that’s where the HC has failed miserably. In trying to protect the “sentiments” and “beliefs” of believers, it went on to demolish the very idea of rights. Blind faith and its pound of flesh.

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