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Monday, January 11, 2010


There may be great force behind the demand to carve out a new state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh and an equally powerful counter-argument . The Centres attempt to find an amicable solution to this explosive political imbroglio through an all-party meeting has been inconclusive. There appears to have been some serious yet informal discussions in the corridors of power relating to the advisability of resorting to a Presidential Reference under Article 143(1) of the Constitution to seek the Supreme Courts opinion on the vexed issue, which has kept raising its head since the 1970s though not as menacingly as it has at present.

Whoever thought of a Presidential Reference as a recourse to finding a solution to this purely political issuewhether or not to create a new state called Telanganaseems to have forgotten the apex courts polite yet firm refusal in 1994 to get dragged into a theatre where warring parties seldom accept judicial prudence and advice. Whatever be the degree of legal soundness of the Supreme Courts opinion on a possible reference on Telangana, it is bound to stoke the fire given the fact that passions on both sides pro- and anti-Telangana are running high. In addition, no one can assure the SC that its opinion would be respected and not trashed at the political altar.

Article 143(1) allows the President (the government) to seek opinion of the SC on issues of extreme public importance involving important questions of law. The Article does not say whether the SCs opinion would be binding on the government. After the demolition of Babri masjid on December 6, 1992, the President had sent Special Reference No.1 of 1993 [Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India, 1994 SCC (6) 360], to the SC seeking its opinion on the question: Whether a Hindu temple or any Hindu religious structure existed prior to the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri masjid (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards of such structure) in the area on which the structure stood Realising that answering the query from the President or giving any opinion on it was fraught with danger, the apex court had politely yet firmly refused to step into the political minefield.

How wise of the SC to have declined to answer the Reference. For, it must have realised that there can be no legal solution to a purely political issue blown to monstrous proportions by ill-advised political actions , promises and announcements. The constitution Bench of the SC clarified why it was averse to answer the tricky question from the President : It leaves us in no doubt that even in the circumstance that this court opines that no Hindu temple or Hindu religious structure existed on the disputed site before the disputed structure was built thereon , there is no certainty that the mosque will be rebuilt.

Aware of the pitfalls of any opinion on this, the judges on the Bench steadfastly refused to risk an answer knowing well that it would only lead to strident criticism of the apex court lowering its dignity. It said, Ayodhya is a storm that will pass. The dignity and honour of the Supreme Court cannot be compromised because of it. We hope the government will try substituting the word Ayodhya with Telangana in the above statement of Supreme Court and visualise the consequences before resorting to a Presidential Reference to the apex court.


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