Upendra Baxi | Professor of law, University of Warwick
The Indian Express
In light of the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict, Baxi argues that the SC has “performed an interpretive wonder and a unanimous judgement” must “count as a miracle”.
He maintains that the decision was a “chiselled” one and is “open to recourse to review and a curative petition, although all parties had agreed to accept fully the final decision”. If the “litmus test of a good constitutional decision is the scrupulous judicial avoidance of constitutional othering” then this judgement “valiantly succeeds”.
However, it seems that the “indictment of constitutional othering may have to do with the way in which the court has dealt with the issue of ‘preponderance of probability’ of evidence and the reliance on the ASI report as secular evidence.” He notes that the latter has been “subjected” to two caveats — one, the report “does find the evidence of pre-existing structure” and second, “it leaves unanswered whether a Hindu temple had been demolished to pave the way for the construction of the mosque”.
Baxi explains that “the law requires a party which claims uninterrupted, continuous, adverse possession to fully meet the burden of proof” and this was not done by the Sunni Waqf board. Finally, he claims that this article “is a plea for a careful study of this encyclopaedic decision” since the five acres awarded to Muslims is “is not an act of constitutional largesse but an exercise of power and duty to do complete justice”.
Sushant Sareen | Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation
Sareen argues that years of “betrayal, dissembling, and, of course, terrorism and wars imposed on India should have been enough to convince every Indian to not expect anything good from Pakistan”. However, India has “eagerly accepted the offer from Pakistan to open a corridor” in Kartarpur.
One explanation for the same is that the central government believes that “corridor was the South Asian equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down” and “would act as a bridge between the people of the two countries”. Sareen refers to the “efforts made by the Pakistani deep State to reignite the fires of terrorism in Punjab by inciting radical sections in the Sikh community” and writes that it is “perplexing” for him to believe that the government is “getting lyrical over the Kartarpur corridor” despite this.
A “plausible explanation is that both Pakistan and India are using Kartarpur to influence politics in Punjab”, writes Sareen. He maintains that “using Kartarpur as a political prop is akin to playing in to Pakistan’s hands” and that the “wages of mixing religion with politics will once again haunt India”.
Faizan Mustafa | Vice-Chancellor, NALSAR University of Law
Aymen Mohammed | Research Scholar, NALSAR University of Law
Mustafa and Mohammed find it “strange” that the “judge who authored” the Ayodhya verdict “preferred not to reveal his name”. Furthermore, although the “apex court accepted that wrong had been done when the Babri Masjid was descretated in 1949”, it gave the disputed site to the Hindu plaintiffs.
According to Mustafa and Mohammed, some positive findings that should be appreciated are that the court “reiterated that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution”. Second, the court “categorically made a highly appreciable observation” that one must reject attempts by courts to interpret religion. Third, it accepted the Sunni Waqf Board’s plea “that the place of Lord Ram’s birth is not in itself a juristic person”. Fourth, it also accepted the argument that the “mosque was not constructed after the demolition of a Ram temple”. Fifth, the court referred to the ASI report to state that “remnants of pre-existing structure were not used for the construction of the mosque”. Sixth, the “argument by Muslim plaintiffs that a title cannot be solely on the basis of faith or archaeological findings” has been accepted too. Seventh, the “title of property cannot be decided on the basis of travellers’ account was also accepted”. Eighth, the court stated that there is “no historical record prior to the 18th century that talked of the demolition of a Ram temple”.
In conclusion, they write that since the “Muslim plaintiffs did not claim title in this case” and just sought “delivery of possession “they should not mind the final outcome”.
Neerja Chowdhury | Political commentator
Chowdhury reviews Ayodhya verdict that was “a finely calibrated attempt to balance claims and counter claims, with a view to bring closure to an issue that defied a solution for at least four decades”. The task should have been that of the political executive, not the judiciary, she writes.
The judgment is likely to “credit Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ticking yet another box of the BJP’s core agenda” and re-emphasising his “image as the solver of knotty, festering national problems”, explains Chowdhury. Even his “‘nobody’s victory and nobody’s defeat’ approach” proved his mettle as Prime Minister, she adds. However, Ram Mandir will be most probably be a “non-milch cow” for BJP as far as votes are concerned for 2022 elections in Uttar Pradesh, writes Chowdhury since it is “unlikely to become an emotive issue”.
It will place BJP in a better position to “pursue an agenda of [Hindu] nationalism… without being pushed around by its friends in the RSS or VHP,” Chowdhury explains. At this time, Hindus should offer “kar seva for the construction of the mosque” and in turn, Muslims should participate in the construction of the temple, she concludes.
Mihir S. Sharma | Indian economist who is Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation
Sharma looks at the ailing real estate sector and writes that the government policy towards the sector is biased towards “maintaining prices rather than deepening the market.” While the government is finally cognizant of the slowdown across sectors, the “diagnoses are wrong… thanks to the shortage of economics expertise at the highest level”, he adds
For example, the government has proposed an “alternative investment fund (AIF) worth Rs 25,000 crore to address the stalled projects problem in the real estate sector”. However, not only will Rs. 25,000 crore not be enough, it may impact only 16 per cent of stalled projects, writes Sharma. Even private capital may not be able to “match government funds” as it faces legal challenges of its own for funding projects.
Sharma recommends that housing prices be dropped till supply and demand are “in balance”. The central government needs to “stop trying to fix things for lenders, projects, homeowners and developers — and think instead about how to fix the market for houses”, he explains. It will have to approach real estate as a “structural clean-up rather than viewing this as a cyclical problem that can be solved with a small amount of money.”
Shruti Rajagopalan | Senior Research Fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, US.
In her piece, Rajagopalan talks about the reciprocal nature of ‘harm’ or ‘externalities’, explained in Nobel laureate Ronald Coase’s 1960 paper The Problem Of Social Cost. In the case of Delhi’s severe air pollution, “both Delhi citizens [by demanding cleaner air] and farmers [by burning crop residue] impose reciprocal harm or externalities” on one another.
So far, imposing penalties on Punjab and Haryana’s farmers has failed “due to limited state capacity”. When “command-and-control policies” such as this fail, alternatives to crop residue burning (CRB) like rotavator machines should be considered, writes Rajagopalan.
Punjab, Haryana and Delhi governments could also create “a tradable CRB permit” she recommends. Here, they can sell the permit “for a price that compensates them for using alternatives to crop burning” and a price that “Delhi government and its citizens would be willing to pay”, she explains.
Tradable permits have been successful in curbing industrial pollution across the world and in different contexts, but first, all three state governments need to “set aside a fund only for this purpose”, explains Rajagopalan.