The Irony of Infinite Justice
By Amit Phansalkar.
It is ironic that Arundhati Roy has been given a token punishment for her alleged scandalizing of the Supreme Court. Ironic, because her affidavit was precisely against one such frivolous contempt petition – a petition, which made a mockery of the highest court of the land. Ironic, because the court has acknowledged that fact, and yet the token punishment is directed, not at those who registered the petition, but at Ms. Roy. Irony doesn't end there.
It's claimed that the courts have been lenient on Ms. Roy, because she is a woman! Could it really get more absurd? If what she said really scandalized the Apex court, how does her being a woman become relevant? After all, she's more independent and empowered than most men in this country. And what is a token punishment anyways? Is it, a concerned parent asking a rebellious daughter to sit in the corner for a few minutes, just to let her know who's the boss? Well, doesn't she already know it?
The irony is, through this touchy conviction, the court has made a mockery of itself, and tarnished its own reputation the way Ms. Roy could never have, had she had the intent. The question that comes to the mind of an ordinary citizen like me is, why is the supreme authority of the land so defensive? After all, isn't it kind of obvious, what Ms. Roy has said in that affidavit – which is still online on the NBA website! In this land, where a few slogans become a reasonable provocation to burn a train coach, and where a blind backlash becomes a natural reaction, why are the courts so touchy about the choice of language? It just baffles me, because I had a deep-rooted respect for the Apex body, like most ordinary citizens of India. More so, because amongst the ruins of power corrupt politics, criminal-police nexus, and the civic apathy, only the Supreme Court has stood like a beacon. But yesterday, it has tarnished its own reputation; an arbitrary use of an arbitrary power isn't exactly what justifies the respect.
In India, ironies never end, though. So when, a quasi-religious organization's leaders openly say that they don't give a damn about the judgment of the Supreme Court, it doesn't constitute contempt. In fact, the government calls those leaders for negotiations. When a minority community does not accept the law of the land on some issue, it doesn't constitute contempt. In fact, it gives rise to a constitutional amendment. When an ex-Chief Minister complains that her conviction is politically motivated – which directly implies that the judges were partial due to political pressures, and questions their integrity – it doesn't constitute contempt. In fact, the person is cleared of all the charges in record time, to be a Chief Minister again. And then, the language in response to a frivolous, and indeed mocking, petition is picked up on for bringing in contempt! Surely, it's not just I, who is seeing all these Ironies.
A lot of people, I believe, are happy at this moment, that "that woman" is shown her place. That the epitome of leftist intelligentsia – according to them – is finally taught a lesson. And, to end a talk about ironies, here is the icing on the cake – I can find no better source than Ayn Rand, from the extreme right, to express what I'm feeling right now. She said once, (albeit, to counter minoritism as one would expect) that they're ignoring the smallest minority of all – the individual! So if the Arundhati episode is anything to go by, beware, if you don't have religious/political cause, don't mess up with the big guys out there. The god of small things, it seems, will never be able to laugh.
Amit Phansalkar is a Computer Engineer by profession, and an independent candidate as far as intellectual politics goes.