soli j sorabjeeFormer Attorney-General of India
Hamid Ansari’s Comments on Minorities: I have always admired former vice-president Hamid Ansari’s role in the functioning of the Rajya Sabha. His rulings on points of order and adjournment motions were sound, and dispassionate. In his farewell speech, he said, the Chair was like an umpire in cricket or a referee in a hockey match witnessing the play and players, but without becoming a player. Its only source of reference is the book of rules. Quoting former vice-president S Radhakrishnan, Ansari said, “A democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities.
A democracy is likely to degenerate into tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise fairly, freely and frankly the policies of the government”. Ansari further said, “While the Opposition has every right to criticise, their right to criticise should not degenerate into willful obstruction of Parliament’s work.” He went on to say, “Rajya Sabha was a creation of the Constitution and reflective of the wisdom and foresight of the founding fathers, and if free and frank criticism of government policies was not allowed, a democracy could degenerate into a tyranny.” So far so good.
Thereafter, in an interview with Karan Thapar, Ansari spoke of a sense of insecurity and unease among Muslims. Newly elected Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu slammed Ansari’s remarks and said, “Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda”, and asserted that compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India. There has been harsh criticism of Ansari’s comments and insinuation that they were made to find political shelter. Remember that Ansari’s views are shared, rightly or wrongly, by many persons in public life. The real issue is whether Ansari, soon after demitting his high office, should have made those comments and generated an avoidable controversy. The timing, unfortunately, was wrong.
Strange Writ Petition in Islamabad Court: An organisation linked to Lal Masjid has approached the Islamabad High Court to ban a beauty pageant on the ground that it would Indianise Pakistan. The petitioner solemnly averred that family ties would break and the values of society would deteriorate if the pageant was allowed to continue. The court is yet to decide the maintainability of the petition, which, in my opinion, should have been dismissed in limine with exemplary costs and, thereby, send a clear message to persons who file frivolous petitions in court and add to the backlog of pending cases.
Incredible Misogynic Superstition: At Kansal village in Mohali district of Punjab, women offer prayers by standing on the road in front of a temple as they have been banned from entering it. A few years ago women would climb up the platform and participate in religious functions, just like men. However, according to villagers, people started mysteriously falling ill and many died. Priests were called to resolve the issue. The outcome was to ban women from entering the temple on the ground that it would annoy the god, and women have a direct relation with ‘impurity’ as they remain ‘dirty’ during a specific period every month. This is a classic instance of superlative superstition.
MPs Urge to Speak on Sex: Apparently, the urge to speak about sex is universal and not confined to any particular country. Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh, a Muslim MP from the ruling coalition in Malaysia, said during a parliamentary debate on domestic violence that husbands often suffer emotional attacks, rather than physical abuse. He went on to assert that even though men are said to be physically stronger than women, there are cases where wives hurt or abuse their husbands in an extreme manner. He elaborated, “Usually it involves wives cursing their husbands.
They insult their husbands and refuse his sexual needs… All these are types of psychological and emotional abuse.” Expectedly, the MP faced flak from Marina Mahathir, a women’s rights activist, who said, “Women have a right to say no to sex, this is an old notion that when you marry a woman you own her body. It is ridiculous to say men are abused if women say no to sex.” I wonder if the Malaysian MP was inspired by somewhat similar statements and sentiments expressed by our MPs and there is some bond between them. email@example.com