Personal Opinion and court order

Rohit Dhankar

My daughter sent me a link[1] to a news item in The Indian Express. The news item almost exclusively deals with the pronouncements of an Allahabad High Court Judge which are regarding culture, history and the nation. The legal aspect of the rejected bail plea is almost completely ignored. Which is fine, as it is the prerogative of the reporter and the newspaper to emphasize the aspects they consider important. And the aspect emphasized here by Mr. Asad Rehman is extremely important for the public to know and understand. The pronouncements of the judge are so seriously afflicted by what figuratively could be called ‘foot in mouth disease’ that I found it difficult to believe. And that prompted me to waste time in early morning to search and download the actual authentic signed copy of the order from Allahabad High Court website.

The order

The order in Hindi is a 12 page (about 3900 words) document which devotes about 4 pages to the legal aspect of the case and the remaining 8 on a lectures full of incorrect personal opinion. We need to understand both the parts.

The legal aspect

It is about a bail plea of one Mr. Javed, accused of cow theft and slaughter. The order states the charges, evidence presented, legal grounds and some relevant earlier judgments of High Courts and the Supreme Court. The counsels arguing on behalf of the state, according to the order, present eye-witness accounts, statement of a veterinary doctor and some circumstantial evidence. But the arguments of the counsel for the defendant are just pronouncement that all charges are false, no counter evidence is presented by him. One cannot ascertain by reading only the order if it leaves out the counter evidence presented by the defendant’s counsel, or he really presented no evidence. For that one must study the entire case, which is not the purpose of this quick take. Also, one must study the provisions of law the order quotes to ascertain whether they are accurate in letter and spirit.

However, as the case is made in the order under discussion the rejection of bail plea does not sound completely biased or unjust; through it might be legally debatable.

The personal opinion part

The two-thirds of the order is devoted to a completely unnecessary lecture, as said earlier, which is full of demonstrably false personal opinions. One wonders the court should involve itself in such pronouncements which are completely irrelevant to the facts of the case under consideration. Some examples of the pearls of wisdom in the order would be entertaining to see as they are.

“[1] सूर्य, चंद्रमा, मंगल, बुद्ध, वृहस्पति , शुक्र, शानी, राहू, केतू के साथ साथ वरुण, वायु, आदि देवताओं को यज्ञ में दी गयी प्रत्येक आहूति गाय के घी से देने की परम्परा है [2], जिससे सूर्य की किरणों को विशेष ऊर्जा मिलती है और [3] यही विशेष ऊर्जा वर्षा का कारण बनती है और वर्षा से ही अन्न पेड़, पौधे आदि को जीवन मिलता है।” (emphasis and numbering of the sentences is added)

What makes it bullshit is the smooth movement from correctly stated “parampara” in sentence 1, to personal and absolutely ludicrous opinion stated as a fact in sentence 2 to twisting the scientific fact of heat received from the sun being responsible for the rain, which is correctly stated to be the life giver to vegetables. Yes, it might be a “Parampara” among Hindus to use cow’s ghee in yajnas; but the claim that this kind of yajnas provide ‘special energy’ to the rays of the sun would have been laughable if it were not in a court order. And then, this yajna energy is supposed to be the cause of rains! One wonders how sound judgments given on the basis of this kind of logic and facts are likely to be.

Another nugget of wisdom: “वैज्ञानिक यह मानते है कि एक ही पशु गाय ही है जो आक्सीजन ग्रहण करती है, आक्सीजन छोडती है । पंचगव्य जो कि गाय के दूध, दही, घी, मूत्र, गोबर द्वारा तैयार किया जाता है कई प्रकार के असाध्य रोगों में लाभकारी है।”

Which scientist worth his salt would put his neck on the block to claim such stupidity, which goes against all scientific understanding of animal (including cows) metabolism? The writer of the order and his ilk are free to do whatever they want with the cow dung and urine (parts of panch-gavya) but is it worth claiming in a formal court order?

An example of the historical understanding available in the order: “9,500 वर्ष पूर्व गुरू वशिष्ठ ने गाय के कूल का विस्तार किया था।” 9,500 years back? We know precious little about the history of humans 9,500 years back. And what does “expansion of species of cow” (गाय के कुल का विस्तार) mean? How did a human (Guru Vashishth) manage that?

The order is full of such wisdom. As a final example let’s see the way logic and facts are used here: “[1], गाय को एक राष्ट्रीय पशु घोषित किया जाए और [2] गौ सुरक्षा को हिन्दुओं के मौलिक अधिकार में रखा जाए क्योंकि [3] हम जानते है कि जब देश की संस्कृति और उसकी आस्था पर चोट होती हैतो देश कमजोर होता है।” (sentence numbers added)

Sentence 3 is advanced as the logical ground for accepting the sentences 1 and 2. We all know that all cultures develop and change over time. All cultures have retrograde ideas in them, which may have been beneficial some time in history but have become harmful now. Human sacrifice and burying possessions of a king or important man with him after death were part of many cultures in the past, today they are obnoxious to all. Stratifying society in a caste structure was part of our culture, today we reject, condemn and are struggling to eradicate it. The ban on study of vedas by shudras and women was part of our culture, at the least in some dharmshastras; today this kind of ban is obnoxious to all. Cultures are not weakened by genuine criticism of retrograde ideas in them; they are destroyed by mindlessly sticking to wrong and ant-justice ideas. The cultures which stop recognizing their weaknesses and filth in them finally disappear.

The ban on cow slaughter and eating cow’s meet is not even historically proved fact among Hindus. There are references of ritualistic and even normal eating of cow’s meet in the same sources which the court order mentions; that is Vedas and Upanishads. Thus, the sentence 3 itself being doubtful and not always true can not support sentences 1 and 2. And even if one accepts it to be true, for the sake of argument, this does not lead to the conclusions that the cow should be declared national animal or declaring cow-protection as a fundamental right of Hindus.

What does it mean to declare ‘cow-protection’ as a fundamental right of Hindus? Who is stopping Hindus from protecting their own cows today? What difference will it make? It is my fundamental right to worship whatever god I believe in, in whatever manner I want to. Does that lead to worship in a manner which might cause harm or inconvenience to others? A Hindu has all the rights he wants to protect his own cow. Can it be extended to have rights on someone else cows and what they want to do with them?

Why should one bother about it?

The order is full of such logic and ‘facts’. One would ignore such orders if they were just once in while derailments of mind. But this kind of thinking and such arguments have become the staple of current political discourse in India. This kills logical thinking, obliterates distinction between one’s belief and scientific knowledge, obliterates distinction between myth and history, paints the nation as a single culture entity; and finally kills all rational debate.

Such views and logic in political debates are harmful enough but can still be seen as a part of churning of ideas. But when they start becoming a part of the legal literature and starts figuring in court orders then we are touching a new low. The legal system will lose public respect and trust, and the authors of its orders and judgment will lose all credibility as people of reason and fairness. How can one retain the trust in the soundness of judgment of someone who cannot see obvious flaws in logic, who has abysmally bad understanding of science, and who cannot make a distinction between history and mythology? That is why the question: Can biased personal opinion be made part of a court order?


2nd September 2021


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