It was a week of contradictory statements from the Sangh Parivar stable. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at the Congress, accusing it of scaring the judiciary into submission whenever a judge of the Supreme Court wants to hear the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid case.
The prime minister was referring to the Congress-led Opposition’s attempt to impeach former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra earlier this year. The Congress had wanted Misra to postpone hearing the case till after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a plea that was rejected. The party later moved an impeachment motion against Misra in the Rajya Sabha, alleging corruption and arbitrary functioning.
“I would also like to tell judges that do not be afraid,” Modi said at a rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar. “Keep going on the path of justice.”
The same day, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat sang a different tune in Nagpur, criticising the judiciary for not making the Ayodhya case a priority. At a meeting to discuss the possible construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Bhagwat claimed that the Supreme Court did not understand Indian society. He demanded that the Centre enact a law to build a temple as soon as possible. Bhagwat added that people need not patiently wait for a court verdict anymore and instead get ready to make the temple a reality. The Supreme Court had in October adjourned the hearing in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid case till January.
While Modi asked judges to walk on the path of justice without fear, Bhagwat chose to undermine the Supreme Court. The crux of Bhagwat’s statement was that it no longer matters if the Supreme Court delivers the verdict or what kind of verdict it delivers. It is time to build a Ram temple either way. To declare that it is unnecessary to wait for the court’s decision is akin to calling for lawlessness, and contemptuous as it lowers the dignity of the court in the eyes of the people. It shows disrespect to the court to call on the judges to be fearless when a decision goes in one’s favour but then to accuse them of lacking an understanding of India when it does not.
If Modi really believes in the autonomy of the judiciary, he should rein in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and put an end to the rabble rousing at play in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid matter.