11/11/2019 The Hindu Editorials Note- Mains Sure Shot
No-1. Today Editorials Not so Important for UPSC ( However we are giving Info)
The Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.
- The five-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a unanimous judgment has ruled in favour of granting the disputed site to the Hindus for the construction of the temple and granting Muslims an alternate 5 acre land for the construction of a mosque.
- That the five Supreme Court judges achieved unanimity on an issue that has convulsed Indian politics through seven decades, points to a quite heroic effort at salving deep wounds. It has to be given credit for its effort to resolve a dispute that has stirred up ancient resentments that are capable of destroying the secular fabric of India.
- The top court invoked an extraordinary power uniquely granted under Article 142 of the Constitution, to ensure that justice is delivered to all.
- The most welcome aspect of the 1,045-page verdict of the five-judge Bench is its unanimity. For, it sends out a message that the judiciary has, with a single mind, ventured to give legal burial to a prolonged dispute that began as a minor litigation, expanded into a divisive political cause, and became a festering wound on the body politic for years. The fact that the case is over, at last, must come as great relief to all peace-loving people.
- The SC admits in its judgment that in deciding the title of the disputed site it cannot be reliant only on archaeological findings and rather, the matter must be decided on settled legal principles and by applying evidentiary standards that govern a civil trial.
- The Bench pleads its inability to entertain claims that stem from the actions of the Mughal rulers against Hindu places of worship.
- The court observes that Indian history is replete with actions that have been judged to be morally incorrect and even today are liable to trigger vociferous ideological debate.
- The court has held that the adoption of the Constitution marks a watershed moment for India and its citizens as the people of India, departed from the determination of rights and liabilities on the basis of their ideology, their religion, the colour of their skin, or the century when their ancestors arrived at these lands, and submitted to the rule of law.
- With respect to the disputed property at Ayodhya, it was observed that the British Sovereign recognized and permitted the existence of both Hindu and Muslim communities at the disputed property upon the annexation of Oudh in 1856. Hence the claims could be examined in this case.
Concerns regarding the Judgment:
- The Babri Masjid demolition was a matter involving criminal trespass that should have been reversed by local administrative action. Ideally, the underlying dispute should have been settled at the local civil court as a land dispute. That the dispute finally reached a Constitution Bench is a sign of democratic dysfunction.
- The Court has observed in its verdict that the placing of the idols inside in the inner dome of the mosque was an act of desecration of the mosque and the subsequent destruction of the mosque on December 6, 1992, was an egregious violation of the rule of law. Even after acknowledging all these historical wrongs, still, the Judgment seems to favour the interests of the violators of the rule of law and does very little to placate the victims.
- Having declared that the suits are representative of the two communities, organized violence by one party in demolishing the mosque should not have been ignored.
- A reading of the judgment reveals that the outcome from the verdict is not wholly in line with the evidentiary conclusions the court itself reaches.
- It notes that archaeological evidence shows the existence of a 12th-century Hindu religious structure underneath but does not prove any demolition as claimed by some, or explain what happened in the intervening centuries.
- It acknowledges that namaz was offered at the mosque between 1857 and 1949, and declares that Muslims did not abandon it, but offers no relief even though their religious rights stand proved.
- While it holds that Hindus had a possessory right over the entire outer courtyard to the exclusion of Muslims, it does not decide whether they had an exclusive title; on the other hand, it rejects the Muslim claim solely on the ground that they failed to prove “exclusive title”.
- The entire disputed area covering both the inner and outer courtyards are awarded to one side contrary to its own conclusion that Muslims had a right, albeit a contested one, in the inner courtyard.
- The case has been decided on the balance of probabilities that Hindus have proved a better title than Muslims. While it is true that “preponderance of probabilities” is the standard of proof in civil law, it is doubtful whether this can be invoked to the exclusion of an acknowledged right belonging to the other side.
- Although the judgment seeks to bridge significant gaps in the positive law by applying principles of “justice, equity and good conscience”, yet, it arrives at findings that negate these values. Equal citizenship was a promise that India made to itself at the time of its transition to a modern republic. Evidently, the court through its judgment seems to believe that the injuries to an entire religious community’s sense of identity and belonging, can be easily redressed by granting alternate land.
- In allowing a temple to come up through a government-appointed trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court has apparently chosen a path most conducive to social harmony placing the need for peace and closure above the need to undo injustice. The final award will always be a source of discomfiture for those to whom closure goes beyond ensuring peace in a communally polarised environment.
- The awarding of an alternate 5-acre plot to the Muslims seems more of moral consolation by way of a political compromise and less of adjudication in recognition of their religious rights.
- In paving the way for the building of a temple for Ram on the spot believed to be his janmasthan, the Supreme Court held up the faith of millions of Hindus. But it cannot allow the judgment to be perceived as an endorsement of any challenge to the rule of law in the name of faith.
- The politicization and communalisation of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute left in its wake a trail of violence and led to the terrible loss of lives and property across the country.
- There would be a real sense of justice only if those who plotted and executed the demolition are convicted in the ongoing trial in Lucknow.
- In the spirit of the ‘new India’, though it is welcome that the dispute has been put to rest, it would be in the fitness of things to ensure that no such egregious violation of the rule of law are allowed to recur in the future which would act as a body blow to the secular fabric of India.
- India’s decision to not sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
Indian Concerns with RCEP:
India’s withdrawal from the RCEP is based on three key concerns.
- The possible negative impact of joining the agreement on particularly the farmers and small business owners due to the dumping of products from other countries into India.
- The lack of concessions within the final agreement on key demands for India such as work visas and liberalization in services.
- India currently runs deficits with 11 of the 15 other member states. India’s trade deficit was a factor given that this could expand under the RCEP. This concern is particularly acute when it relates to China, with India fearing an influx of cheap Chinese imports into India. Fears of Chinese imports and its impact on Indian domestic manufacturers are legitimate and well-founded, given that India has faced unfair restricted market access from China when it exports to the country in the form of non-tariff barriers.
RCEP exit a missed opportunity:
Though the concerns raised by India seem logical, India’s withdrawal from the agreement is not necessarily the best way forward.
- India had already won concessions in the negotiations, including implementation delays stretching into decades and safeguards to protect sensitive sectors like agriculture.
- Existing WTO rules allow India to impose safeguard duties and anti-dumping provisions which has been used in the past and can be put to use against China when it comes to unfair trade practices.
- A long-standing goal for India is to generate a high level of sustained economic growth, which would create millions of jobs and secure a stable future for India’s young population. Given these ambitions, India’s decision to withdraw from the RCEP is not ideal, considering the many opportunities that RCEP would have opened for India.
- India has enormous strategic and long-term economic imperatives to join the RCEP. India’s ambitions to become a global hub for manufacturing means that it is in the country’s long-term national interest to be integrated into global value chains.
- India now, is neither a part of the RCEP nor the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), constituting the two economic structures which will effectively determine global value chains for manufacturing in Asia for years to come. This will mean that India will continue to remain unintegrated in such supply chains, and will see its ambitions of becoming a global manufacturing hub further delayed.
- Delay in integrating with global value chains will impact India’s internal and external ambitions. The World Bank found that when coupled with domestic reforms, joining such global value chains can “boost growth, create better jobs, and reduce poverty”. India’s own evidence shows that jobs linked to global value chains earn one-third more than those jobs focused on the domestic market.
- The inability to accede to the RCEP and ensure India’s integration into these emerging global value chains means India will lose out on a key opportunity to create such high-quality, high-paying jobs.
- The exit seems to be against the government’s own articulated view that the economics of the world has changed and, therefore, India will have to act accordingly shedding its traditional isolationist approach.
- The Make in India program, seeking to encourage global companies to manufacture products in India and making India a Global Manufacturing Hub will be hurt by the RCEP exit.
- India’s absence in both of Asia’s two key economic architectures will take away from India’s goals as a regional and Indo-Pacific power, as well as a prospective global power. RCEP membership and the possible economic opportunity could have facilitated India’s rise as one of the poles in a multipolar 21st century.
- India should prepare itself for future RCEP negotiations. The country should commit itself to domestic reforms to prepare itself for the next opportunity to integrate itself into the global value chains and unleash Indian manufacturing.