Of closure and strict implementation: Decoding the minority view in Sabarimala case
New Delhi, Nov 15: The Sabarimala review verdict resulted in a 3:2 judgment by the Supreme Court.
While Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra wrote the majority verdict referring the case to a larger Bench, Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud delivered the dissenting verdict.
The two judges said that they found no grounds for review of the majority judgments and hence the review petitions are dismissed.
The two judges said that the Constitution places a non-negotiable obligation on all authorities to enforce the judgments of this Court. The duty to do so arises because it is necessary to preserve the rule of law. If those whose duty it is to comply were to have a discretion on whether or not to abide by a decision of the court, the rule of law would be set at naught ... When the process is complete and a decision is pronounced, it is the decision of the Supreme Court and binds everyone. Compliance is not a matter of option.
If it were to be so, the authority of the court could be diluted at the option of those who are bound to comply with its verdicts.
What a future constitution bench or larger bench, if constituted by the learned Chief Justice of India, may or may not do when considering the other issues pending before this Court is, strictly speaking, not before this Court at all....
... if and when the issues that have been set out in the learned Chief Justice's judgment arise in future, they can appropriately be dealt with by the bench/benches which hear the petitions concerning Muslims, Parsis and Dawoodi Bohras. What is before us is only the narrow question as to whether grounds for review and grounds for filing of the writ petitions have been made out qua the judgment in Indian Young Lawyers Association and Ors. v. State of Kerala. Consequently, this judgment will dispose of the said review petitions and writ petitions keeping the parameters of judicial intervention in such cases in mind, Justices Nariman and Chandrachud said.
A bare reading of the minority judgment suggests that the two judges drove across a point that the judgments of the Constitution Bench are non-negotiable and should be abided by all. When the original judgment was passed by the Constitution Bench in 2018, it had allowed the entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple. It is very clear when the two judges said that compliance is not a matter of option.
The two judges also go on to say, "what follows from this is that once a judgment is pronounced by the Constitution Bench and a decree on facts follows, the said decree must be obeyed by all persons bound by it. In addition, Article 144 of the Constitution mandates that all persons who exercise powers over the citizenry of India are obliged to aid in enforcing orders and decrees of the Supreme Court. This then is the constitutional scheme by which we are governed - the rule of law, as laid down by the Indian Constitution."
The Bench also reminds that it is the duty of the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of a State, Union State Ministers, MPs and MLAs to carry out the orders passed by the Supreme Court. In this regard the Bench says that it is, therefore, incumbent upon the executive branch of Government and all MPs and MLAs to faithfully aid in carrying out decrees and orders passed by the Supreme Court of India when such decrees and orders command a particular form of obedience, even where they are not parties to the litigation before the Supreme Court. Any deviation from this high constitutional principle is in derogation of the oath taken by every Minister and Legislator during his term of office. Once this is clearly understood and followed, the rule of law is established, and the shameful spectacle of political parties running after votes, or instigating or tolerating mob violence, in defiance of decrees or orders passed by the Supreme Court of India does not reign instead.
"Organised acts of resistance to thwart the implementation of this judgment must be put down firmly. Yet in devising modalities for compliance, a solution which provides lasting peace, while at the same time reaffirming human dignity as a fundamental constitutional value, should be adopted. Consistent with the duties inhering in it, we expect the State government to ensure that the rule of law is preserved. All petitions are disposed of accordingly."
After all, in India's tryst with destiny, we have chosen to be wedded to the rule of law as laid down by the Constitution of India. Let every person remember that the "holy book" is the Constitution of India, and it is with this book in hand that the citizens of India march together as a nation, so that they may move forward in all spheres of human endeavour to achieve the great goals set out by this "Magna Carta" or Great Charter of India."