The Supreme Court has done the right thing in not permitting litigant Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay from withdrawing his petition demanding the setting up of a commission to rename all places, roads and buildings, named by the “invaders”. He sought the permission to withdraw only after the two-member Bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna gave him a piece of their mind. They told him in unequivocal terms that the “nation cannot remain a prisoner of the past” with its history of invasions being constantly dug up and served on the plate of the present and future generations “to keep the country on the boil”. The lady judge told him in particular that in Hinduism, which is a way of life, there is no place for bigotry and what he asked for amounted to nothing but bigotry.
The petitioner who is a leader of the BJP and who uses the forum of the court to fight his political battles wanted the appointment of a commission which will look into the names of all places, roads, bridges and buildings which had at one time names rooted in religious texts like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata so that they are restored. He had used words like “barbaric, brutal, cruel and undemocratic” against the “invaders” who, incidentally, ruled for hundreds of years. It is only the knave who can judge the past by the norms of the present. It was only in the fitness of things that the judges reminded him while dismissing the petition that people of various communities have lived together for centuries and whatever divisions occurred among them were because of the divide-and-rule policy followed by the British. In other words, unity, not disunity, was the dominant characteristic of Indian society.
It is a different matter that even without the commission that Upadhyay has sought, the governments at the Centre and in the states have been indulging in a spree of renaming like calling the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan Amrit Udyan, where the roses still smell the same. Be that as it may, petitions have become a way of pursuing politics. Upadhyay had once moved a petition against the dangers of “conversion” and when it was dismissed, he waited for another opportunity to rehash the petition and submit it afresh before another Bench. It is time this clever misuse of the apex court’s time is stopped forthwith.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)