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Columns
Respect differing views, don’t brand them enemies
 
By K. Gopalakrishnan

(Jan 29, 2018): In a country where everyone is bent on imposing his will on others, moral policing is rampant, intolerance is the order of the day and fringe rule all over with its brand of terror unmindful of even the sober suggestion of the prime minister of the country, the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on Hadiya case provides relief and hope.

The three member bench headed by the Chief Justice of India reminded the rulers that marriage is separate from criminal conspiracy. In the particular case National Investigating Agency’s investigation focussed on the marriage of Hadiya nee Akhila Asokan’s marriage with Shafin Jehan with larger love jihad conspiracy. The learned judges ruled that the courts cannot investigate Hadiya’s choice in selecting her life partner as she is an adult and free to take a decision on marriage.

The judgment said, “Even if we assume that the marriage was devised you cannot probe legitimacy of her choice. Marriage has to be separated from criminal conspiracy. Otherwise we would create a bad precedent of law. We cannot investigate her marriage and marital status. She is an adult and not a child. We cannot investigate whether she married a good or bad person. That’s her choice”. The welcome and saner view of the court was also that marriage among adults could not be nullified on a plea of the father or any other third party and it can be done only on a plea of one of the partners.

The final hearing is on February 22, but threw out the annulment of Hadia-Shafin Jehan marriage. Supreme Court’s latest offers hope that the Court would right a wrong by delinking marriage from conspiracy. In fact, a lot needs to be delinked. What a citizen would love to eat should be delinked from the fringe and law enforcing agencies including those engaged in national security. Those who wish to drink are free to drink, but then if a citizen has some other choice he should have the freedom to exercise that choice.

After all what one eats would never threaten national security. Similarly what one reads is a personal choice. People read to understand and learn. Not that he or she believes all that is written. Only when you read you can understand. What one wears is his or her business, so is the case with what one writes. Above all, what one believes in is his or her personal and private matter. Faith is personal. One may change faith too if he or she is convinced.

That is the principle of democracy. If every five years during election campaign political leaders can try to convert those opposed to his ideology and policy, how can you find fault with people choosing or changing their faith on religious and spiritual values? Why should citizens be forced to believe and live by the narrow definitions of nationalism and patriotism dictated by the fringe?

We have enough of choices to go by: Gandhiji, Patel, Nehru, Rajaji, Abdul Kalam or Shankaracharya, Sivaramakrishna, Vivekananda, Narayana Guru propounders of other philosophies like Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mahavira,, Mohammad, Guru Nanak to name a few. There are many others. Many more will take birth and come out with their views. Whom to believe and whom to trust should be left to the citizen.

After all at best the state can imprison only the body. Not the mind. Not the thinking. There are many other areas where the citizen can live defying the philosophy of the state. No dictator has so far succeeded in imposing his will and diktats on the people with a mind of their own.

Since the ruling dispensation is inspired by Lord Rama and is committed to provide a rule as per the vision of Lord Rama, at least they should follow one example of Ramachandra Prabhu. Respect the dissenting views and try to live up to their expectation. Don’t brand all those who differ as traitors. Follow the basic values. Remember Ramachandra Prabhu chose to leave his beloved wife when he heard the views of a dhobhi. If you cannot be Ramachandra Prabhu, at least respect those who differ with you. There could be some reasons. Find that out. Don’t destroy basic values and follow Ravana.

Patriotism is nobody’s monopoly. Everyone loves this country. They may have a different point of view. They may have a different style of living, of values and faith. Try to respect that. Don’t treat the Deshvashiyoms as enemies.

No one likes criticism, however well meaning. If not respect at least try to tolerate differing views. That is the way Lord Ram taught us to rule. Intolerance is anti-Ramachandra Prabhu.
What the courts have ruled in Hadiya case is a lofty principle. Don’t brand all as enemies if you don’t like them or differ with you. They may be well meaning.

They have a right to lead their own lives and live according to their faith. To treat them as enemies is not befitting of a civilised society. It is the responsibility of the state to identify the terrorists from genuine citizens who have a different way of life. In a civil society all persons have a place and right to live. In any case they are not enemies. The earlier this principle is understood by our rulers, the better for India.


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