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Why do insinuations of favouritism against Justice Abdul Nazeer have no basis: His dissenting note in an Ayodhya-related case and Triple Talaq

In 2018, Justice Nazeer contested the observation made by the Supreme Court in the Ismail Faruqui case) that the mosque is not an essential part of Islam.

Ever since the President of India announced the appointment of retired Supreme Court Judge S Abdul Nazeer as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, the left-liberal ecosystem has left no stone unturned to conjecture an imaginary tale of ‘quid pro quo.’

Initially, they tried to pass off Justice Nazeer’s appointment as an unprecedented move by the Modi government. In reality, India has a long history of judges taking up post-retirement jobs and Justice Nazeer’s case is not a departure from usual practice.

As such, the rattled left liberals sought refuge in the landmark Ayodhya verdict of 2019. While they do not agree with the unanimous Supreme Court decision, they sought to exploit the fact that Justice Nazeer was part of the 5-Judge Bench that decided the very case. Essentially, the ecosystem insinuated that the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict was sans merit and that Judges like Abdul Nazeer had delivered it in the hopes of a quid pro quo.

The vicious ecosystem that tends to shed crocodile tears, over the supposed ‘underrepresentation of Muslims’ in positions of power, was not impressed by his appointment at all. They are now suggesting that he decided the Ayodhya case in favour of the Hindu community, in the hope of being rewarded with a lucrative job by the present-day government, post his retirement.

As such, it comes as no surprise why left-liberal accounts on social media are sharing a picture of 5 judges who delivered the Ayodhya verdict. The motive behind such misleading messaging is to convince the masses that the Ayodha judgment was ‘fixed’ in some way.

The sinister propaganda even forced Union Law Minister, Kiren Rijiju, to issue a statement. “The Whole Eco-system is once again in full swing on the appointment of a Governor. They should better understand that they can no more treat India as their personal fiefdom,” he wrote on Sunday (February 12).

“Now, India will be guided by the people of India as per the provisions of the Constitution of India,” he further added. In their desperate bid to create hysteria about a supposed compromise in the independence of the Judiciary, left-liberals forgot to follow up on Justice Nazeer’s judgment in Ayodhya and Triple Talaq case.

Justice Nazeer and his dissent in the 2018 Ayodhya case

So far, the basis of their ‘quid pro quo’ insinuation had been the unanimous Ayodhya verdict of 2019. But, a year earlier, Justice Nazeer had contested the observation made by the apex court in a 1994 judgment (Ismail Fauqui case).

In that 1994 case, the Supreme Court had observed, “A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in the open.”

On September 27, 2018, Justice Nazeer noted that the said observation in the Ismail Faruqui case influenced the verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the Ayodhya land dispute case in 2010.

It must be mentioned that the Allahabad High Court had split the 2.77 acres of Ram Janmabhoomi (also called disputed land by some) into equal 3 parts, between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Justice Nazeer had thus sought the re-interpretation of the 1994 observation to a 5-Judge Constitution Bench. However, then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan passed the majority verdict by 2-1.

They noted that the ‘mosque’ observation in the Ismail Fauqui case was made only in the context of the case and had no bearing on the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict.

Justice Nazeer had even posed four key questions in his dissenting verdict (but in vain):

  1. Whether in the light of Shirur Mutt and other aforementioned cases, an essential practice can be decided without a detailed examination of the beliefs,
    tenets and practice of the faith in question?
  2. Whether the test for determining the essential practice is both essentiality and integrality?
  3. Does Article 25, only protect beliefs and practices othe f particular significance of a faith or all practices regarded by the faith as essential?
  4. Do Articles 15, 25 and 26 (read with Article 14) allow the comparative significance of faiths to be undertaken?

It thus becomes clear that Justice S Abdul Nazeer did not toe the line favoured by the BJP government in 2018, as alleged by the left-liberals since his appointment for the post of Governor of Andhra Pradesh.

Dissenting Judgment in the 2017 Triple Talaq case

While the BJP government had thrown its weight behind the criminalisation of instant Triple Talaq, the same Judge, who is now accused of ‘quid pro quo’ had given a verdict against the criminalisation of the act.

Justice S Abdul Nazeer was one of the two Judges, along with Chief Justice Khehar, who dissented in the infamous Shayara Bano Vs Union of India. The summary of the dissenting judgment is stated below:

  • Triple Talaq is integral to Islam in India and part of personal law
  • It is a practice which had prevailed for a long time.
  • Triple Talaq does not violate Articles 14, 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) which are sanctions against state action.

The duo injuncted Muslims from handing out instant Triple Talaq for a period of 6 months. They also noted that courts cannot interfere in personal laws and instead asked the Union government to formulate a law in this regard.

While the left-liberals have remained fixated on one case, it is evident that Justice Nazeer had interpreted the law using his discretionary wisdom. In at least two cases, his judgments differed with the stance of the ruling BJP, enough to puncture the claims of quid pro quo.

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Searched termsNazeer Governor
Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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