On the last day of October, Chief Justice of India-designate Justice SA Bobde gave an interview to propagandist-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai. During the course of the interview, it became obvious that Sardesai’s objective from the very beginning was to craft a narrative to favour a particular political faction. And he went about his job diligently.
Rajdeep Sardesai appeared to suggest that the Ayodhya Case is political in nature and insinuated that the day-to-day hearings in the matter were a consequence of the Judiciary succumbing to pressure from the NDA government at the centre. He also questioned whether the Bench of the Supreme Court could keep away from the politics of the matter in a case that ‘pits Hindus against Muslims’ and ‘the ruling BJP against the opposition’. Justice SA Bobde, for his part, refuted these suggestions strongly and said it wasn’t a political issue. ‘We are deciding on an issue raised by litigants, that’s all,’ he said.
After decades of delay in resolving the Ayodhya dispute due to the involvement of the Courts, Rajdeep Sardesai now asks Justice SA Bobde whether the Supreme Court could pass judgment on a matter of faith. “Can the Supreme Court legislate on a matter of faith?” Sardesai asked. “We saw what happened with the Sabarimala issue as well.”
In all these years, Rajdeep Sardesai and his ilk could not bring themselves to ask the question. Now that the judgment in the case is imminent, Sardesai discovers whether the Supreme Court is qualified to pass judgment on the matter. Even more shamefully, he rakes up the Sabarimala verdict to peddle his propaganda. The entire mainstream media was cheering for the desecration of the Sabarimala when the verdict was passed. They turned the sacred abode of Swami Ayyappa into a battleground for their ideological war.
Now, Sardesai uses the Sabarimala verdict to question whether the Supreme Court is qualified to pass judgment on the Ayodhya Dispute. Justice Bobde, for his part, denied that the Bench was passing judgment in a matter of faith in this particular instance. The CJI-designate admitted that there was an element of the nature of religious structures involved but he said it was only one of the issues.
Sardesai went further and said that whoever wins the case will celebrate and the other side will feel defeated. ‘Do these things concern you as a judge?’ Sardesai went on to ask. Justice Bobde replied that they couldn’t do anything even if they thought about such things because they have to make a decision. To this, Sardesai replied, “You have to take a decision which has been deferred for so many years? Because it is seen like you are playing with fire.”
At what point will it be legitimate to argue that Rajdeep Sardesai is trying to influence the judgment in the Ram Janambhoomi case? Because it does appear that he is trying to make Justice Bobde feel guilty about issuing a verdict on the matter. During the entire interview, Sardesai repeatedly asked whether the Supreme Court was being pressurized by the ruling establishment. At one point when Sardesai was asking whether the Supreme Court’s dealing with the Kashmir issue and the Ayodhya dispute was being affected by any kind of political pressure, Justice Bobde appeared annoyed and said, “Kashmir has not even been decided yet, what are you talking about?”
Despite Justice Bobde’s annoyance, Sardesai did not stop and asked, “Has there been any pressure to sort of defer it, delay it or day to day hearings on Ayodhya, no pressure from the State?” Justice Bobde refuted these suggestions time and again and said that there was no political pressure on them. To this question too, he replied with a clear hint of annoyance in his tone, “I don’t even know where you get this from, that someone is putting pressure on the Supreme Court.” He also said they had no choice in the day-to-day hearings of the Ayodhya dispute and said that this was a case that has been pending in the Judicial system since 1949.
Most significantly, Justice Bobde said, “People don’t want this case to be heard before an election, so the Court started hearing after the elections were over. So where is the pressure?” It is pertinent to mention here that Congress leader Kapil Sibal who was appearing for a Muslim party in the matter wanted to delay the case last year due to the General Elections. Considering how events have turned out and the judgment did get delayed even when no parties wanted it to be delayed, Kapil Sibal did get what he wanted. It hardly matters how he got it.
Rajdeep Sardesai also raked up Justice Bobde’s connection to Nagpur. Considering how the whole interview panned out, it will be naive to assume that he emphasized on the CJI-designate’s Nagpur connection innocently. It is widely known that the RSS has its headquarters in Nagpur. Although Sardesai did not mention this, he did mention that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is from Nagpur and so is Union Minister Gadkari. “What is it about Nagpur?” Sardesai asked, “Something in the air in Nagpur?”
Justice Bobde replied innocently to the not-so-innocent question. “Maybe, maybe, I don’t know,” he said smiling. Sardesai then asked him, “Are you proud of your roots in Nagpur?” While he was smiling generously while asking that question, we could all guess what his actual intentions were.
Rajdeep Sardesai interview with Justice SA Bobde revealed precisely why people do not trust the mainstream media anymore. He headed into the interview with the preconceived objective of peddling a certain narrative. While Justice Bobde was firm in his reply and refuted all the suggestions that Sardesai made, it also provides good reasons why people distrust the mainstream media so much these days.