‘Ayodhya verdict belittles exalted Ram’s divinity’

Like many liberal commentators, the former editor of The Times of India, Dileep Padgaonkar, questions the wisdom of the judges in the Ayodhya case in placing the “faith and belief of Hindus” over facts and evidence. Padgaonkar also makes an additional point about making a divine figure a litigant:

“The verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on the title suits related to the disputed site in Ayodhya makes you wonder whether anything straight can ever emerge from the crooked timber of the majoritarian mind.

“Among the factors that led [the three judges to trifurcate the disputed land], the most intriguing by far is the cachet of legality that they have bestowed on belief and faith…. But by their very nature, faith and belief have no factual basis. They are above reason….

“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….

“The biggest infirmity of Thursday’s verdict, therefore, is that the court treated Lord Ram as a ‘juristic person’. In the eyes of the law, a deity or an idol is thus entitled to be placed on a par with flesh-and-blood litigants. The sheer brazenness of this stand, which belittles the exalted stature of Hinduism’s most revered divinity, makes you wince.”

Read the full article: The muddle path

Also read: High Court judgement or Panchayat pronouncement?

CHURUMURI POLL: The end of the Ayodhya dispute?

‘Hindutva-vadis have gorged on Ayodhya since 1947′

Ayodhya headline gets The Times of India in a  jam

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25 Responses to “‘Ayodhya verdict belittles exalted Ram’s divinity’”

  1. DailyBread Says:

    >… What will you do if the SC maintains the same verdict?

    To get an answer you need to wait for 30-40 years. In the meantime, 1. please treat the canards we spread as excerpts from Ram Charitha Manas 2. cease & desist from asking questions…

  2. prasad Says:

    Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar there is a vacancy to be filled in NDTV, you may please apply. They will love your judgement. All the best.

  3. Vishwas Says:

    Dileep Padgaonkar obviously is ignorant about Hindu Law. It is a well settled position in Hindu Law that idol or deity is a juristic person. Indeed, all over the country, properties are vested in them, and many even hold PAN cards and pay taxes. It does not belittle the divinity of the Lord in any way.

  4. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Why should it “belittle” anyone or anything if a diety is given the status of a legal person while deciding a legal dispute? There is precedent for doing so in the common law, as anyone familiar with Sir William Blackstone’s 18th-century treatise would know.

    Shri. Padgaonkar needs to either explain his umbrage or read the law!

    (Why just diety? In America, based on common law precedent, corporations enjoy the status of a legal person!)

  5. twistleton Says:

    Any other verict would have led to violence. But it is certinly disturbing…

    It is taking away people’s freedom to interpret their god in any which way they want. The biggest strenght of Hinduism is its wonderful amorphism; something that has probably been the single biggest factor in its tenacious evolution.

    Dogma of any kind is stifling, more so religious dogma, because the sphere of religion extends as much inwards as it does out.

  6. Vikram Hegde Says:

    Agree with Vishwas above. I would like to add that it is not only a feature of Hindu law but Indian Civil law in general that deities can be impleaded as parties to suits. I think the case which laid this down is Venkataramana Devaru v. State of Mysore.

  7. C Says:

    I wonder whether the respected sirs above have analyzed completely the consequences of treating deity’s as persons – in particular, as legal persons. I also wonder whether all religious deities will be treated as persons or only Ram. That is, do all the Gods of Hinduism get treated as legal persons having constitutional rights just like citizens of the nation? What about the muslim, christian and parsi gods? What about tribal gods? For that matter, do we include Apollo too? Perhaps there are some who believe in Greek gods.

    Anyway, that is just one question of which gods are constitutionally persons and which ones are not.

    Many more questions follow from the judgement. Do Gods have to adhere to the law? Can we sue Gods if they are legal persons? Lots of Hindu gods have done things that are against the Constitution of India. If they are treated like juridical entities, they too have to abide the constitution. Should we jail them? If so, how? Perhaps we can jail their idols instead of jailing them. But then how do we jail Allah?

    And even if Ram is a juristic person, it still does not follow that he owns his place of birth. For instance, I am too a juristic person (I hope) and my place of birth was a hospital – may I also, being a juristic person, claim ownership of the hospital? Or do I get to claim the town which I was born in as a whole? Then I claim Bangalore to be mine. But the problem is that so many other people were born in Bangalore too – we have competing claims for the place of birth for multiple juridical entities. What happens now?

    God people are so f*$^)g stupid.

  8. Ankit Says:

    I wrote this comment on the original TOI article but they censored it, maybe fact was too hot to handle. Let me puncture the contention about what you have called the ” biggest infirmity”, i.e. admitting the deity as a juristic person.

    Judges have not been creative in this case, rather they have relied on precedent, as is appropriate. There have been many cases where the deity is admitted as a juristic person, as a minor, and the caretaker of the deity fights the case on behalf of the deity. Judges have referenced Ram Janki Deity Vs. State of Bihar case of 1995 decided by Supreme Court, and many other such cases.

    A simple research would have clarified this point for Mr. Padgaonkar. We know that prejudiced secular fanatics and facts do not gel together however, so what is the surprise!

  9. Anonymous Guy Says:

    twistleton,

    Agreed on the verdict.

    The problem with considering dieties, fairies and other fiction as real persons is that it allows the criminal minded controllers of religion a lot of legroom to extend their power games into our already corrupt legal system.

    See Kannada movie ‘Udbhava’ for a brilliant portrayal by Anant Nag, of a man who exploits ‘deities appearing out of the ground’ to his advantage.

    ***

    BTW the Ram in the pic looks like a well built European.

  10. Madhusudan Thakkar Says:

    This is the same arrogant man who said that “Editorship of Times of India” is second most important job of the country”.Double standards of TOI is clearly visible. On the one hand the paper says “sorry” for its biased and provocative coverage[on the front there was a news item about saffron parties getting more than expectations] on the other hand it publishes such biased article when there is need for utmost restraint.TOI image has taken serious blow especially in Mumbai where there is immense brand loyalt.Will Hindustan Times,DNA and Indian Express also IMPROVE to take advantage?The same is the case with Hindu where equally provocative article is published by Romila Thaper.

  11. twistleton Says:

    Very interesting arguments!

    Lord Ram has been entitled to the status of a mortal, and a mercenary one at that; leading one worthy to liken him to an American corporation. Next you will say God invented money. Before I am misunderstood, I would like to state that I am NOT against this interpretation.

    This debate gives us beautiful insight as to how the concept of God has evolved with the economic systems of each subsequent age. Today, God can hold property, own wealth and even fight for possession of land! It is a perfect example of how culture evolves with paradigm shifts in the economic framework of subsequent generations; how we interpret current situations using contemporary understandings and definitions of socio-economics! Brilliant!

    It is, ANY DAY, better than a bloody and gruesome “HOLY WAR” in the name of Lord Ram (or any other god for that matter).

  12. twistleton Says:

    GOOD ONE C!

  13. Ram Lalla Says:

    Don’t be surprised if rightwing loonies will now revive their moronic Rama Sethu movement, arguing that since it is a matter of faith the Sethusamudram project should be scrapped. What the A’bad High Court has done is to legitimise all such senseless causes of the Hindu right.

    Padgaonkar is bang on target when he remarks that the “most intriguing by far is the cachet of legality that they have bestowed on belief and faith.”

    Also expect in the days to come the Hindus to be cocky than ever, like their hero Narendra Modi who engineered the worst-ever anti-Muslim pogrom in India in Gujarat in 2002.

  14. Mysore Peshva Says:

    C, excellent questions all. I wish I could answer them!

    But I think that in common law systems (that continue to hold sway in most Commonwealth countries and in America), a legal person is allowed to act as a fiduciary of actual petitioners. That is a procedural implication of the concept of “legal person” — and I assume that’s what the Allahabad High Court meant by accepting Ram as a juristic person.

    The concept of “legal person” reflects a court’s pragmatic approach to addressing larger legal questions. It is well accepted in a rule-of-law system, to which India aspires.

  15. Arvind K Says:

    I was speaking to an editor of a leading media outlet in India and the same point came up. When I pointed out that Microsoft Corporation or the State of Nevada are treated as juristic entities despite not being people with flesh and blood, his reaction stunned everyone in the room.

    He got agitated and shrieked, “BUT THEY WERE INVENTED BY WHITE PEOPLE! Who are you to decide who can or cannot be a juristic person for the sake of the law? White people are a superior race. So they can confer juristic status on institutions. We should not do that. I will consult with White people and give you a suitable answer.”

    Those were his exact words and he is the editor of a TOP media outlet in India. As a journalist, you must have already heard of this exchange. You may want to explain why you think that Microsoft Corporation can be treated as a juristic person represented through the management for the sake of lawsuits, but a religious place in India cannot be (deity or religious place, it is the same thing and does not change just because your white-skinned masters did not tell you that it is acceptable).

  16. Somebody Says:

    ಹೋಗಿ ನಿಮ್ಮ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಕೆಲಸ ಕಾರ್ಯ ನೋಡ್ರಯ್ಯಾ …. don’t flog the dead horse

  17. JVachani Says:

    The judgement is over 8000 pages long (incl all annexures). Has anyone read these pages, understood and analysed the content before leaping to conclusions based on sound-bite driven TV journalism? Does anyone know what were the specific legal points that had to be decided by the court? Does Without studying and understanding the issues from the standpoint of the law in an issue as complex and old as this, why do our “rent-a-comment” observers hyperventilate their pet peeves and theories? Notice there’s no debate or discussion on the actual details of the judgement (presumably because they’re still being studied) except views and opinions based on selective reading of the entire judgement. Incredible India!

  18. Goldstar Says:

    Dileep Padgaonkar needs to read his own TOI more. On Friday’s edition, the paper had given so many precedents, including supreme court cases, where Gods have been treated as Juristic Person.

  19. Harish Says:

    In one of the Upanishads, Vishnu declares, “I have not only created the universe, but have also entered into it”. This notion of immanence of God as opposed to just transcendence (which we find in the Semetic conception of God) is what differentiates Indian religions from Western Religions. Also the Immament God has time and again embodied himself in a human form, as an Avatar, to re-establish dharma when it is on the wane. The notion of God as a person, albeit the greatest, Purushottama, is ingrained in Indian consciousness. This is perhaps the reason why the Indian courts, have time and again entertained petitions where God has been one of the litigant. The pseudo-secular Dilip Padgoankar, whose sympathies lie with semetic religions obviously has difficulty understanding this idea and even considers it belittlement of the Indian Deity Lord Ram, whereas most Indians would consider it an affirmation of the unique concept of Divinity which has been the defining feature of this great Land.

    ***

    His belief that having Lord Ram as a litigant is a belittlement of his exalted status, is similar to the Islamic belief that making idols or pictures in the likeness of the Lord is a belittlement of the Almighty. If the Lord descended onto earth and mingled with peoples and set an example of how we should conduct ourselves, why should we not make a likeness of him in stone or painting to remind ourselves of him and meditate on him? It is a further Exaltation of the concept of God and not belittlement. It is obvious that everybody knows that it is a stone idol or picture on paper, but it is only used as an aid to form an intimate relationship and meditate on him.

    Of course, in Arabic there is no word for “contemplation”, “meditation”, and so they go on and on about “worshipping idols” . If all they can see is a stone, that is their problem, not ours!

  20. Ashoka Says:

    Very rightly said C

  21. twistleton Says:

    It is baffling how Lord Ram can be compared to a Corporation or a State.
    After all, he belongs to antiquity, so much so that a permanent smokescreen of doubt must always pervade our glances into history.

    Whereas a State or a corpration is an entity that exists in the present, in the same time period as their legal entanglements.

    Unless Lord Ram can be resurrected from the annals of history, we have opt for the only other option: rationality. I would be the last to believe our ancestors were as gullible as we.

  22. Anonymous Guy Says:

    twistelton,

    Most were gullible, a few took advantage.

    You can see the sophistry of the few flow through in some of the comments here on Churumuri.

  23. karihaida Says:

    @AG,
    looks like you are angling for Kancha Illiah’s chair ;)

  24. Arvind K Says:

    to twistleton: you pretend not to understand my point. we are not talking of whether Rama was a real person or not. He could be a creation of human minds, but that is irrelevant. In the instant situation, Ram Lalla as a juristic person is simply intended to get those who use the site to conduct prayers as the defendants.

    This legal convenience exists simply to allow courts to proceed in cases where tradition without paperwork is the norm, but court intervention is still required. That is why the comparison with states and corporations is the correct analogy. In both cases, these are legal conveniences but actual humans are answerable to the court. It is clear you do not understand how law works. You take it literally and see it as the court’s endorsement of the existence of Rama. It is nothing of the sort.

  25. twistleton Says:

    @Arvind
    then what’s the big deal with the place of birth, why not let it have been simply a temple to worship at? Without the place-of-birth refrain, the whole argument would have bombed.

    You have not convinced me. The verdict specifically mentions the site being Ram’s birthplace, as a compelling reason as to why a temple is necessary there. Why, because people believe it to be so. Since when did a court of law start accepting peoples’ beliefs as evidence?

    In that case does majority opinion automatically become law? So much for checks and balances.

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