IANS news network: The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving Pakistani terrorist behind the 26/11 Mumbai strike that claimed 166 lives.
"We are constrained to hold that the death penalty is the only sentence that can given in the circumstances of the case," the apex court bench of Justices Aftab Alam and C.K. Prasad said.
Kasab, one of the 10 Pakistanis who sneaked into Mumbai on the night of Nov 26, 2008 for a terror siege of the city that ended on Nov 29 afternoon, had moved the apex court challenging the death sentence by a trial court, which was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
The court rejected Kasab's contention that the Mumbai terror attack was a war against the government of India and not against the Indian state or its people.
The court said the government of India was only the elected organ of the state and the repository of the sovereign powers.
Having said this, the court added: "Primary and foremost offence by the accused (Kasab) was waging war against India."
The high court had upheld Kasab's death penalty Feb 21, 2011.
Kasab was sent to the gallows by a Mumbai trial court May 6, 2010. Besides other charges, he was convicted for waging war against the nation.
An apex court had reserved the verdict on the conclusion of arguments that spread over nearly three months, starting Jan 31.
Kasab and his nine associates who had sailed from Karachi reached Mumbai after they hijacked private Indian ship M.B. Kuber and killed its navigator Amar Chand Solanki.
Here is the link to SC judgement, per se, verbatim. It also blasts media channel for live coverage.
SC Judgement on Kasab
Is there any difference between the word, 'let off' and 'acquitted'?
Dictionary says let off means "To permit someone to disembark/to let go off without punishment".
And, acquitted means 'To Establish someone's innocence'. But for a few channels like NDTV, who are selective in reporting, both the word has one meaning but not to be interchanged in reporting, perhaps. Having said that, no violence is good. Hindu or Muslim, none should be killed. And who is a Hindu and who is a Muslim? For me all Indians are Sanatan Dharmi, who follow the Sanatan way of life! Muslims however preach and pray to different god. Sanatan Dharm emphasized on prayer of all forms of life, be it a plant or cow dung, or anything which helped in sustaining life.
Nevertheless, talking about media channel like NDTV, and their reporting on Godhra. Here is a preview:
Here is the link to the page: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/gujarat-riots-32-convicted-29-let-off-in-naroda-patiya-case-260317
Here is the link to this page: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/godhra-verdict-31-convicted-63-acquitted-86991
Ideally, Media is supposed to act unbiased towards any community, religion, party, and is just supposed to report the incidents as and when happened. But news channels of today have become view presenters. Today itself, the Supreme Court has inquired about Radia Tapes, and what has center done about it! I appeal to all media channels to present the news in an unbiased manner.
Nehru began his speech on freedom of India, with an alien language, alien constitution, alien system, alien bureaucracy which were not inherent part of India. However no one might want to raise a finger on his credibility, even though he was the chief architect of division of India-Pakistan! Had he ceded to demands of Jinnah, who was a far more secular leader, Iqbal wouldn't have been able to persuade Jinnah for division. Jinnah himself was a Shi'ite, had married a Hindu, used to drink, and was by no means a hard-liner. Nevertheless, We can be assured that his intentions were right, not harping on his personal traits, or wishes. This video has inflated our chest on many occasions, just thinking of the independence we got!
And 65 years down the line, we have the progeny of the same gentleman who chews chewing gum sitting in parliament, inciting her partymen to not allow the Parliament to function. And this when, her party was caught on all fronts neck deep in corruption.
As a popular magazine once said, Sonia's poodle, Manmohan Singh refuses to answer the question by opposition saying, "सवालो की आबरू संभालना भी जरुरी है". What amazes me is, to answer him in his shayraana andaaz, "देश की इज्जत सरे आम लूट रही है, और आप सवालो की आबरू संभाले बैठे है".
Lets see the video of this great lady, who made 'sacrifices' for this country!
I am quite sure had Azaad, Bose, Bhagat, Bismil and innumerable personalities who laid down their lives, could see future, they would have had abandoned their pursuit.
We are living in a age, where drinking water, sewer, garbage, medicines, education is an issue. All the basic facilities are missing in one part or another.
Seriously, the gods must be with us because we are still running the country despite such bureaucrats, politicians, people!
There are only questions, and no answers so far, on Sonia Gandhi’s illness that required a surgery.
One, how can the nation’s most powerful political leader, virtual chief executive of the ruling party, not let us know that there was something for us to be concerned about?
Two, how is it that when so many people knew about it—her immediate family, close political advisors, doctors and hospital staff, and personal attendants—the media never got a whiff of it? And if it did, why did it choose to keep so quiet about it?
Three, is news about the illness or medical condition of the people who run our country a state secret? When the main reason for keeping a PM out of Lokpal is that the top executive should not be distracted by nitpicking concerns, is it legitimate to have our No. 1 political leader being unfit through illness?
Four, what makes us—as a people—particularly afraid to learn the truth about our leaders’ medical condition, whether it is politicians or businessmen? Are we happier living in a state of denial?
Five, why is it that even when we do know something now, there is a strange reluctance to reveal the full truth. A Congress party statement merely said: “Sonia Gandhi has been recently diagnosed with a medical condition that requires surgery. On advice from her doctors, she has travelled abroad and is likely to be away for two to three weeks.”
That’s it? At a time when the newspapers are already speculating that the operation is over, we are merely told by the party that she left for the US. For God’s sake, she is not away on vacation that she needs this privacy. What if she had actually been the PM? Would she just have left the country with Rahul without telling anyone?
There is something clearly wrong with us – and it’s not about Sonia Gandhi. A similar thing happened when Manmohan Singh’s angioplasty suddenly surfaced as a problem in January 2009. We came to know about Singh’s coronary bypass and previous heart problems of the 1990s only in 2009.
Even when Singh went under the scalpel, the party in power made no effort to clarify the chain of command by appointing a caretaker PM. What if Pakistan had launched another Kargil that day? Would a de facto No. 2—Pranab Mukherjee —have sufficed without the formal authority of a PM? Or would we have spent the first day of war electing a leader?
The same thing happened with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A few months after losing his premiership in 2004, he took mysteriously ill and nobody—not the party, not the people—knew anything about it. Whoever knew chose to keep quiet.
To say that he is anyway not PM now is no excuse for silence. What if the same illness was dogging him when he was PM? What if we had a chief executive who was not fully fit, or worse, had moments of mental disability or some other debilitating affliction? What if this had been the case even when we were fighting Kargil?
In the US, the health of the president is not a matter of private concern. Every candidate makes it a point to declare his fitness, especially if he is a bit older and, thus, more likely to be susceptible to some form of disability or disease. In fact, US candidates go out of their way to show they are fighting fit by getting themselves filmed jogging or playing strenuous games.
When he was a candidate for the presidency in 2008, John McCain produced volumes of medical records to show he was fit. The records showed that he had a healthy heart and had cancerous melanomas removed four times.
It is, of course, easy to dismiss non-disclosure of illness as a privacy issue. This is what the Congress party is claiming today, having been stunned by Thursday’s announcement. But this argument does not wash. The health of the head of the country’s political formation is not a private matter. Her party, her government, her country have to know if something is wrong, and what it is.
And it’s not about politicians alone. Employees and shareholders need to know if their chief executives are fit to perform. The case of Steve Jobs is instructive. Everyone knows what Jobs’ value is to Apple – which is why the company allowed him a six-month leave of absence three times to allow him to fight his ailment. Andy Grove, the iconic former boss of Intel, wrote volumes about his fight with cancer. He didn’t keep quiet.
But in India? Shareholders and the public knew little about Dhirubhai Ambani’s health till the end. Everybody could see he was not in great health when he appeared at the company’s annual general meeting, but nobody said anything about it. The press, which went into paroxysms of anger when confronted with his barely-legal initiatives, was completely mum about his illness.
Aditya Birla’s fight against cancer was known only to close family members almost till the very end.
Today, it is quite apparent that Ratan Tata has his share of medical problems. But do the shareholders of the country’s biggest business house know anything about his medical problems?
The problem of keeping health a secret is clearly an Indian affliction. We try to keep the truth away from all till it is impossible to hide it, and this is what we should be concerned about in a modern democracy. When you know, you can be better prepared.
But can there be good reasons for powerful people to keep their state of health hidden?
A case in point is Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s health just before partition. We know now that he was dying even as he was getting his Pakistan. But would Indian leaders have played the game differently if they had known that? Maybe, it could have changed the course of history?
But the chances are when you head a movement, it is not the individual that matters, but the mood. It is highly unlikely that even if Jinnah had died before freedom, and Congress leaders knew about it, the course of history would have changed. This was proved when Jinnah died. The country lurched even more to the right. In fact, the probability is that Jinnah was our best hope of avoiding partition – and we blew it.
Business leaders, like Jobs or Ambani, fret that telling shareholders the whole truth can be injurious to share prices. Moreover, it could lead to speculation about who will succeed the big boss, and make the second line of managers edgy about the future.
This is certainly true, but is that not the case even in an Infosys, where we know a Narayana Murthy is going to retire? In any case, has speculation about Jobs’ health not affected the price?
These are uncertainties and transitions that cannot be avoided. Getting to know something enables us to mentally prepare for a succession or the future. Not knowing can lead to shocks that we can do without.
A true visionary par excellence! Watch him speak, and his visions. No doubt he deserves to be the head of this country! Loved his speech!
I was in my secondary school, when Gujarat Riots happened! I hardly knew of him, and thought him to be an extremist. But now I know, he is an extremist in development. Paid Media has shown us to hate him! Watch the entire speech!
Social Media Framework and Guidelines
This is the government proposed guideline on the social media regulation. Having gone through this and current blocking of the Twitter handles, Facebook and Youtube links makes me laugh at the government.
5lakh Assamese gets displaced, Violence in Mumbai damaging public property, NEastern fleeing all parts of country back
And government has the solution of blocking twitter, and facebook and imposing 5sms/day limit. What has happened to Government of India? Why is it acting like the Big Brother of Orwell's 1984? Its appalling to say the least!
This is the letter to ISP by GoI banning all the pages purportedly promoting 'hatred'. I am a follower of the few on the list mentioned, on twitter. I do not agree with Govt's point of view.
Charlatans, quacks and scammers in Pakistan are not a new phenomenon. Witch doctors, black magic practitioners, and herbal healers have long been a part of society, offering ways to cure a disease, get revenge on your mother-in-law or to improve sexual prowess.
These days, however, classical physics is being brutally murdered on television in Pakistan, in front of millions, even if only a few of them care about Science. The laws of conservation of energy, the laws of thermodynamics, basic human intelligence and rationality have been brought to the guillotine. The sentence was carried out by a team of ‘engineers’ from Khairpur, talk show hosts, their production teams and unscientifically leaning ‘renowned scientists’ brought as expert commentators.
‘Engineer’ Agha Waqar and his team have invented the magic pill which will solve all the world’s – but first Pakistan’s energy problems. Lo, and behold, the ‘water kit’! It has already got the nod of approval from a few ministers, a ‘report’ of some sort is due in two weeks on it and the heads of the Pakistan Council of Scientific; and Industrial Research and Pakistan Science Foundation are believers too.
The ‘Engineer’ behind the revolution has already told us that like any patriot, he has refused huge monetary ‘offers’ from various countries (names thrown in for greater effect at times), that he has come to the public without securing any patent because he wants to use it for public good, that he surely feels threatened by the global oil and gas lobby, that he can modify that ‘water kit’ for use on all things (yes, railway engines included) and that revolution is ready to be commercialised. No peer reviewed journals, no scientific method – it works.
The ‘Engineer’ claimed the following about his revolutionary ‘water kit’:
● An ordinary car cover a distance of 40km on a single liter of water
● An ordinary motorcycle cover a distance of 150km on a single liter of water
● A 1kVA generator can be run for upto 2 hours using a single liter of water (thereby producing, at ordinary power factors, ~1.5kW-h of energy)
Various conflicting claims made in between on three TV shows ranged from:
● The ‘water kit’ can be used on any kind of water
● Distilled or bottled water should be used
● Electrolysis is done using the car battery
● Electrolysis is done using a separate battery that can be recharged by the car’s alternator
● Electrolysis takes up anywhere between 1 per cent to very little of the battery’s peak amperage and does not drain the battery
● Electrolysis takes half the power that an ordinary car stereo takes
● Electrodes used are capacitors separated by a dielectric
● The ‘bubbler’ controls flow of gases
● The modified ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) burns ‘HHO’
● The hydrogen produced from electrolysis can be stored and is produced at a rate good enough that constant production is not necessary and hence battery drain not an issue
● The gas mixture used in the engine is called ‘HHO’ and is more efficient as a fuel than anything known to mankind
● The combustion of hydrogen is twice as heat efficient as high octane gasoline and the car can reach a top speed twice that it would on gasoline
● The car can reach it’s top speed on ‘water kit’ and is not held back like CNG
The cost of this revolution: Around Rs. 40,000 for a passenger car. He did not forget to mention that he had to take loans of around Rs 15 million to ‘develop’ the ‘water kit’.
As much as the ‘Engineer’ believed in his device, I believe most certainly that visible stupidity and the quackest of quack science do not necessitate rebuttals. If anyone were to suggest that he or she had found a radical cure to cancer or AIDS: the use of four strong punches on the affected portion with knuckles covered in rice paper, it would not require a scientific rebuttal. The Law of Conservation of Energy really cannot be challenged by a water filter with electrodes attached to a rubber tube. But since the ‘magar gaari toh chalti hai’ argument was being made again and again on TV, it seems like this does require some form of rebuttal.
Here are some quick comments on some of the claims made:
● Can you run an internal combustion engine on hydrogen? Yes, you can modify an existing one to do so.
● Can you run a car on hydrogen? Yes, you can. Hydrogen powered cars are even commercially produced now. But they are mostly hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and not hydrogen ICE vehicles.
● Can you run a car on hydrogen produced from electrolysis? Yes, you can. You can produce hydrogen from electrolysis and you can use it in an ICE to power a vehicle.
● Is it efficient? Hell, no. Electrolysis is an extremely energy intensive process. Numerous efforts have been to radically improve the efficiency, but huge barriers remain.
As should be known to anyone with secondary school knowledge of chemistry, distilled water is not really conductive. Distilled water in fact has a conductivity of 1,000 to 10,000 times less than tap water. Also, electrodes are supposed to be good conductors, highly conductive metals. I have no idea where capacitors came from. Moreover, you will not find the term ‘HHO’ being used for a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gases, or the term ‘brown gas’ being used for it outside quack circles. It is used exclusively by the water-fuel, HHO mileage enhancer crowd. Just google the terms and you’ll see hundreds of ‘water kit’ likes and mileage enhancement attachments being sold by quacks all across the globe.
The central idea is to use electrolysis to produce Hydrogen to fuel the car, and hence the entire process is dependent on the efficiency of electrolysis. As should be known to anyone with middle school scientific knowledge, you cannot just break down water into components and get energy from combustion to reform them without any loss of energy. What was most amazing was that, the ‘Engineer’ was not just claiming 100 per cent efficiency, but reiterating that he was able to get ‘extra energy’ from the system (hidden in a secret vault by the water molecule and released only to those who believe in the power of the ‘water kit’?).
Energy from the magical pill
There are around 55.56 moles of water in one liter. A liter of water – 55.56 moles of H20 – would produce 55.56 moles of H2 and 55.56/2 moles of O2 during electrolysis. The energy released when water is reformed is 286 kJ/mol (aka the enthalpy of combustion) – assuming liquid water and not steam, which it would be in an engine, thereby reducing energy produced even further as 241 kJ/mol for that). For 55.56 moles, this means 15,890 kJ of energy is released.
When hydrogen (or ‘HHO’ as the ‘Engineer’ claimed) is spent in the engine – reforming H2O in the process, energy is released in the combustion process (covalent bonds are formed as atoms approach each other, lowering energy).
A car consuming 100 horsepower would require 100*745.7 Joules/second of energy. So a 100HP car would require 74570 Joules/second or 74.5 kJ/second of energy to power it. From our earlier figures, the energy from one liter of water could power a 100HP car for – given a 100 per cent efficiency electrolytic conversion and combustion – for a total of 213 seconds, or just about 3 minutes and 31 seconds. Not for 40km. I have ignored the altogether important requirements for minimum gas flow rate into the engine. These things simply cannot feed hungry engines with the amount of hydrogen required to run them. That is why hydrogen cars use liquid hydrogen filled from a filling station like gasoline, and not produce hydrogen from water inside a car. Also, water is an incompressible fluid (not perfectly, but very minimal compressibility). You can’t just store a large amount of it in a small tank.
I would at this moment like to state that even now I am not confident that car was still solely running on hydrogen produced from electrolysis. The math just does not add up. Surely the 0.75 liter bottle of war loaded into the ‘water kit’ could not have powered the car for the drives it took on TV. Or maybe there was residual hydrogen in the ‘tube’ that was lying in the back seat of the car.
After wasting energy on breaking down water into Hydrogen and Oxygen you could possibly – in real world and not the make-belief world of ‘water kit’ – power your car from a liter of water for maybe about half a minute. I would take even that figure with a huge pinch of salt. And remember, the battery will have to be recharged for the energy spent in electrolysis.
To break down liquid water into it’s components using electrolysis requires 237.2 kJ/mol in the form of electricity and 48.6 kJ/mol in the form of added heat. For a liter of water, this would require 131,79 kJ from electric power plus added heat (again, 100 per cent efficiency). This means 3.66 kW-h of electricity (cost of electricity from the grid in Pakistan is ~ Rs 9/kW-h these days for comparison). A 12V, 50A-h battery can only manage 600W-h or 0.6kW-h, not 3.66kW-h in anyway.
A hint of caution: Use of pure Oxygen in an ICE is itself dangerous, as Oxygen being highly reactive can fire up low ignition temperature lubricants and other materials deposited in the pathway. Enriched oxygen can increase efficiency by a small factor on itself in ICEs and ICEs for hydrogen use an air mixture.
‘Engineer’ Waqar’s “trade secret” as he said on TV was being able to produce an amount of Hydrogen necessary to run an engine from water which nobody had done before as they had not done their calculations (paraphrasing translation of his words on Dunya TV’s ‘Kyun’). With ‘extra energy’.
Towards the second appearance on Hamid Mir’s show, a head-shaking and visibly angry (at the public promotion of scientific illiteracy) Dr. Ata explained to the show’s host and guests that hydrogen is commercially produced mostly from natural gas (through the process of hydrocarbon steam reforming) and only a very small percentage is produced from the electrolysis of water (this method is 3 to 10 times more expensive than steam reforming). Upon hearing this, the ‘Engineer’ first laid upon Dr. Ata a revelation that the chemical formula of water is H2O (Nobel Prize in Chemistry!), and before he could give us more gems, the host interrupted because this was a ‘technical behis’ (technical argument). If a scientific argument wasn’t the whole point of the show, then you’d wonder what it was?
The saddest part of the saga is not that the production teams from television channels were fooled or holier than thou talk show hosts were fooled or that even a few politicians were fooled but that the Chairman of the country’s biggest scientific research organisation sat there and had brought a few Google search results not to say that the idea is ludicrous and basic Physics shouldn’t be made fun of on television like this but to say that the idea was not but new and it has already been done (the water powered car scam is decades old with numerous fraudsters sent behind bars for financial fraud in various countries).
But it wasn’t just the PCSIR Chairman. The ‘water kit’ was earlier presented to the country’s apex scientific research funding organisation – Pakistan Science Foundation – and somehow it got a seal of approval from them. It is to get ‘support’ from the public kitty as well. As per ‘Engineer’ Waqar (on Dunya TV), he apparently gave a presentation to the PAEC (Why?). The PAEC has had Jinn energy experts before. A presentation was given at the Pakistan Engineering Council as well, where apparently no objections were raised on the cruelty shown towards basic Physics.
Then there was the Mohsin-e-Pakistan, who vociferously supported the idea on television, suggested it was practical, even when the ‘Engineer’ was busy telling us that the laws of thermodynamics can be altered and that experimentation precedes theory always. The Mohsin-e-Pakistan was asked for his opinion because he’s a ‘renowned scientist’. Not that he’s more renown for proliferation of centrifuges, he’s actually a metallurgist and not a nuclear physicist like he’s usually mentioned in the media.
All this while, poor Dr Ata-ur-Rehman (himself of HAARP conspiracy fame though) could be seen helplessly trying to talk sense into the host but his efforts were in vain. The host believed – most vehemently – that he was giving necessary coverage to a magic pill required to solve all problems.
On another show, Samar Mubarikmand (of one terawatts from Thar Coal fame – notwithstanding money already spent on UCG without much results) was supportive of the idea and seemed enthusiastic about it, just suggesting that there are safety concerns, but not feasibility ones. The Chairman of the PSF addressed a press conference with the ‘Engineer’ who wants to sue Dr. Ata for defamation. Even the military sent two officials to meet Agha Waqar (‘Water Kit’ powered Al-Khalid?). There aren’t enough tears in the world that can be shed on such a state of science, and the respect for it. Meanwhile, Hamid Mir, Arshad Sharif and Talat Hussain had become free energy suppression conspiracy theory activists and perpetual motion machine believers.
Radical ‘Water Kit’ Science
The only logical conclusion of the ‘water fuel’ saga can be that nuclear fusion takes place inside the engine, thereby producing the missing energy required to run a car from an on-board water tank using electrolysis. With that, ‘Engineer’ Waqar & Co. would have proven cold fusion as well.
When I was a kid, the national daily Nawa-e-Waqt ran a story in it’s Sunday magazine that an ‘inventor’ from Faisalabad had designed a car that ran on – not water, not air – but kashish-e-saqqal. Yes, a car that ran on gravity! To this day, I wonder if the said car just rolled downhill.
As Abdus Salam’s tombstone is edited by a District Magistrate’s orders and his existence removed from collective memory, we can celebrate ‘Engineer’ Waqar Ahmed who has done something more important than contributing immensely to the standard model of particle physics: destroyed the laws of thermodynamics and the law of conservation of energy.
The good thing is science doesn’t need protection from Pakistani scammers, junk inventors and rabid media. It is evidence based. It involves rigorous testing. It is replicable. It does not work on ‘chalti to hai’ arguments and hyperventilating appeals made from talk show hosts.
As the world discusses the economics of a hydrogen economy, how to store and transport it safely, and how to use it effectively, Pakistan is busy with the ‘water kit’. Meanwhile in India, a string theorist just landed the newly inaugurated Yuri Milner Fundamental Physics Prize. The prize money? $3 million. Ashoke Sen can buy a couple million ‘water kits’ from that. But surely, he’s wiser than that.
The writer would like to be known as a professional skeptic.
“They do not have a word for ‘ghairat’ in English,” said Khadim. He paused, looked at his audience and asked: “Do you know why?”
Without waiting for a response, he added: “Because they do not have ‘ghairat’ in the West.” His remarks, as he had expected, pleased this audience of South Asian Muslims, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. “Not true,” said Farhan, one of the few liberals in the crowd. “They do have a word for ‘ghairat,’ honour.”
“Incorrect,” declared Khadim, “honour is a very light word. It does not have the intensity of ‘ghairat.’”
Many in the audience understood this ‘intensity’ well. They had grown-up daughters. And every time their daughters went out, in jeans or shalwar-kameez, they felt this intensity. The intensity increases, if the jeans are a bit too tight or the headscarves do not cover the head properly.
Farhan had so far been very patient. It was the ‘barsi’ or the annual prayer meeting for someone who had died last year. It was a solemn occasion, where conservatives outnumber others. He did not want a confrontation with them. Whenever they lose an argument, they go to his father who forces Farhan to apologise to “your elders.”
But he could hold no more. He looked around and found a copy of the day’s newspaper. He opened a page, holding it above his head and said:
“Look, this is your ‘ghairat’ and this is what you do when this intensity gets out of control.” And he started reading the caption under a picture:
“This is a June 19, 2012, file photo of Iftikhar Ahmed, the father of murdered teen-ager Shafilea Ahmed. A British court found that Iftikhar and his wife Farzana Ahmed suffocated their 17-year-old daughter, Shafilea, in 2003, because she was seeing boys and had refused to accept an arranged marriage. Both parents are originally from Pakistan.
“During the trial, Shafilea’s sister Alesha told the jury that her parents pushed Shafilea onto the couch and she heard her mother say ‘just finish it here’ as they forced a plastic bag into the girl’s mouth.”
(On Friday Aug. 3, 2012, the court found the parents guilty of murdering their teenage daughter in a so-called honour killing.)
Farhan stopped, waiting for the words to sink in, and said: “If this is ‘ghairat,’ thank God people in the West do not have this ‘ghairat.’ They only have honour.”
“Enough. Sit down,” shouted one of the elders at Farhan. “Who invited this brat to this religious gathering?” Nobody answered him, although they all knew why Farhan was invited.
Unlike most in the audience, Farhan had learned the Holy Quran from an Arab teacher. He recited it faster than others and pronounced every word correctly. He also had a sweet voice. So he was always invited to such places.
And his parents made sure that he went to all such gatherings, sometimes against his will.
This was the last Friday before Ramazan. They finished the recital, said the evening prayers and were waiting for the meal when the argument started.
They usually served kebabs and rasmalais at such dinners and Farhan loved both. But the argument upset him, so he walked out, got into his car and drove away.
Once outside, he realised he did not want to go home yet. So he drove to a nearby shisha bar.
“Still no news of the moon?” Razi, who runs this alcohol free shisha bar in a Washington suburb, asked as he saw Farhan.
“Not my problem,” said Farhan, who was still upset.
“It is my problem, though,” said Razi, also a Pakistani-American. “I need to know, to decide whether to have belly dance tonight.”
Around 10 pm, a friend called and told Razi their local mosque had announced that Ramazan starts tomorrow. “OK, there will be no belly dance tonight,” he said.
It was Friday night and the dancer was already there. Razi paid her $400 and sent her home. The dancer, Zebi, although nobody knew her real name, was also a Muslim, a Central Asian Muslim. “I am going to fast as well,” she said. Some believed her. Some did not.
“You wasted $400,” Farhan said to Razi.
“Yes, I cannot do this during Ramazan,” said Razi.
“Oh, I see. You are a Muslim too, right?” said Farhan, “As if Islam allows dancing on other nights.”
“It does not and that’s why I do not serve alcohol at my place. You see, this is America so we have to compromise on some issues.”
What Razi and thousands of others do in America is not a simple compromise. They modify their faith to suit their needs.
Selling alcohol is prohibited but some Muslims sell alcoholic beverages. They justify it by claiming that since they deal with an interest-based banking system, which is also forbidden, they can sell liquor too.
Others deal with the problems they face by drawing lines between what they would and would not do. For instance, most people will not eat pork but they will comfortably gulp down a bottle of beer or a glass of wine.
Some are so particular about halal or haram that they carefully read ingredients list every time they buy a chocolate or a packet of biscuits. But the same people do not mind having girlfriends or even bringing call girls with them.
One such man came home with a call girl and while he was in the bedroom, his friends cooked ‘karahi-gosht’ for him. When he came out, he asked: “Where did you get this meat from?” When told that the meat was from the common refrigerator, he said: “No, I cannot eat this. I know the meat was not halal.”
Razi tried to engage Farhan into a debate on what is allowed and what is forbidden during Ramazan, but Farhan was not interested.
“Not tonight,” he said, “I have had enough of religion for one night.”
“Why, what happened?” asked Razi.
Farhan explained and then said, “I am fed up with these FOBs (freshly off the boat). Why did they come here if they were so concerned about preserving their customs?”
Razi, a second generation American like Farhan, agreed. “I am also fed up these one-track uncles and aunts,” he said. “All they discuss is politics, religion or cricket.”
While they were talking, a customer came with a DVD of Afghan songs and asked Razi to play it. He did. The customer went inside the shisha room where a group of young men and women were waiting for him.
The women – all Muslims from Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa – started dancing. The men joined them.
“What will you do now?” asked Farhan with a big grin on his face.
“Nothing, this is America and here the customer is always right,” said Razi, eyeing the dancers with some interest.
As they were watching the amateur dancers, Farhan said he was hungry. Razi called a waiter from the halal restaurant next door.
“What is the Ramazan special, doctor sahib?” he asked the waiter.
“Partridges,” said the waiter, a physician who had twice failed the qualification in America and was now preparing for his third attempt.
“Wow, delicious,” said Razi, “bring two with nans.”
“You should tip this poor physician handsomely,” said Farhan.
“I always do but wait till he passes his exam and then he will be tipping us,” said Razi.
“Do you remember Dr. Nadir,” he asked.
“Yes, I do. Why?” asked Farhan.
“He used to live in a studio apartment before he passed his exam. Last week, he invited me to a dinner at his home. He lives in a palace now. His swimming pool is bigger than three of these shops put together,” said Razi.
“Yes, America is for the doctors,” said Farhan, a software engineer who earned a decent salary but nowhere near what a physician does.
The waiter brought three partridges. “Why three?” asked Razi. “Mr. Khan also wants to join you.” Khan owned the halal restaurant.
While they were eating, two middle-aged men came and said they wanted to talk to Razi separately. Razi took them to a corner, spoke with them for a few minutes and came back. The men went back to their car.
“What do they want?” asked Farhan.
“The same old story. One of them is a Pakistani and the other an Afghan. Their daughters are inside, dancing. They want me to send them home.”
“What did you say?” asked Khan.
“I told them I always checked their IDs and all the girls inside are above 21. So I cannot do anything but they started pleading, asking me to help them as a fellow Muslim. I asked them to wait in the car.”
Farhan finished his food. Then went to the shisha room and spoke to the women. Two of them came out with him, went to their fathers, spoke with them for few minutes, promised to return home soon and came back.
The men drove away.
“What did you say?” Razi asked one of the women.
“We told them we cannot go with them right now because if we do others will make fun of us. We will go soon,” she said. They stayed for another half an hour and then went home.
“This ended nicely,” said Khan. “Remember the other shisha bar, ‘Hookahwalas’? They had to close down because of the parent-children fights.”
“I learned from their mistakes,” said Razi. “First of all, I make sure that all my customers are adults. IDs are always checked.” Then he pointed at a police car, parked on the other side of the road. “And when I sense trouble, I call the cops.”
“I can see why they do that,” said Farhan whose anger had subsided and he was now feeling sorry for the parent-generation. “Poor devils, they had no choice. They came here because they wanted some prosperity, which they got. They were not ready for this huge cultural shock.”
Farhan was right. Most of their parents were from small villages, half-educated and were unable to understand the difference between working in Dubai and migrating to America.
“Why is their ‘ghairat’ always linked to women? Why not men? Nobody comes looking for their sons,” said Khan.
“They do, they worry about their sons too,” said Farhan thinking of his mother who often stays up at night, particularly during Ramazan, praying to God to make sure that her sons remained good Muslims.
Razi said that while the parents of his customers were upset with him for opening this shisha bar, they did not want him to close it down either. “They say that if you close, our daughters will go to other bars where they also serve alcohol.”
“I am sure those two poor souls must have been crying on their way home,” said Farhan.
“Yet, nothing justifies killing your daughter,” he added, thinking of the 17-year old girl killed by her parents in England. “No sympathy for murderers, even if they are parents.
They should be hanged,” he said.
“No, nothing justifies a murder, honour or no honour,” Razi agreed.
Khan, who was also a first generation immigrant, was too lost in thoughts to respond.
-Written by Anwar Iqbal, for Dawn, Pakistan.
This is the high court ruling in the matter of demolished mosque found near Subhash Park. A lot of Muslims had vandalized and closed the area, and demanded shifting of Metro, which would envisage hundreds of crores of rupees.
All this on the base of the fact that 'A Mosque' existed a centuries back. By that standard didn't temples exist before Mosques were carved out a little more earlier than that. And by the same standard, weren't all Muslims Sanatani a couple of centuries back. ANyways, have a look at high court ruling
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* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI Reserved on : 25.07.2012 % Date of decision : 30.07.2012 + WP (C) No. 4323 of 2012 COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION …PETITIONER - V E R S U S - GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS. ...RESPONDENTS + WP (C) No. 4432 of 2012 SS SAI BABA OM JEE @ SS OMJI & ORS. …PETITIONER - V E R S U S - SHOAIB IQBAL & ORS. ...RESPONDENTS + CONT. CAS. (C) No. 459 of 2012 COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION …PETITIONER - V E R S U S - K.S. MEHRA & ORS. ...RESPONDENTS + CONT. CAS. (C) No. 460 of 2012 SS SAI BABA OM JEE @ SS OMJI & ORS. …PETITIONERS - V E R S U S - SHOAIB IQBAL & ORS. ...RESPONDENTS
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Presence : Mr. Aman Lekhi, Sr. Adv. with Ms. Monica Arora, Mr. Varun Sinha, Mr. Vikas Gupta, Mr. B.S. Shukla and Mr. A. Gaur, Advocates for the petitioner. Baba Nand Kishore Misra and Sardar Ravi Ranjan Singh, Petitioner Nos. 2 and 3 in WP (C) No. 4432/2012 and Cont. Cas. (C) No. 460/2012. Mr. Pawan Sharma, Standing Counsel (Crl.) with Mr. Sahil Mongia, Advocate for GNCTD. Mr. A.D.N. Rao with Mr. Jayant Tripathi, Advocates for ASI. Mr. Ajay Arora with Mr. Kapil Dutta, Advocates for MCD. Mr. Kirti Uppal, Sr. Adv. with Mr. M.M. Kashyap, Adv. for the Applicant / Mr. Shoaib Iqbal. Mr. Atyab Siddiqui, Advocate for the Intervener. CORAM: HON‟BLE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJAY KISHAN KAUL HON‟BLE MR. JUSTICE RAJIV SHAKDHER BY THE COURT :
1. Religion is said to be the opium of the masses. It can be both a great unifying factor, but also disruptive of social peace where in the name of a religion, extreme postures are taken. It is the bounden-duty of all sane members of the society to ensure that the lives of general public are not affected by posturing on matters of religion. The common man, as it is, has his hands full making his two ends meet. The diversity in religion and culture of our country is, thus, to be treated as a unifying factor rather than disrupting peace. The three limbs of the system being Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, thus, have a duty to perform as enshrined under the Constitution of India, 1950 (for short, „the Constitution‟).
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2. We have entertained the present public interest litigation (for short, „PIL‟) on account of the grievance made regarding some unauthorized construction stated to be going on at Subhash Park facing Red Fort, which was likely to create an adverse law and order situation. We passed Orders on 20.07.2012 after calling upon the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (for short, „MCD‟) to apprise the Court about the situation prevailing at the site. The site in question had, in fact, been handed over to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (for short, „DMRC‟) some time ago for purposes of construction in respect of metro rail project. It appears that the DMRC washed its hands of the land in question diverting its path possibly because of the ground reality and in view of the apprehension of what actually came to transpire subsequently. There was apparently some communication gap insofar as the handing over site back to the MCD is concerned and the land remained unattended for some time. It is during this interregnum period that some digging at the site is stated to have been carried out and articles found, which were alleged to be of archeological significance.
3. The records produced before the Court show that various authorities passed on the buck to each other. The Archeological Survey of India (for short, „ASI‟) did not step in despite the request. Not only that as a sequitur to the discovery of these articles, even some local persons started raising construction,
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without obtaining any permission, on the land, which undisputedly belongs to the MCD. This construction apparently continued unabated despite intervention at the highest level as a meeting is stated to have been called by the Chief Minister of Delhi, which was attended by the Commissioner of Police, Director General of ASI and the Officers/officials from the Ministry of Urban Development. It may be added here that Subhash Park is stated to fall within the restricted zone of two protected sites, i.e., Sunehri Masjid and Red Fort and, thus, any construction in the said area required the permission from the National Monuments Authority (for short, „NMA‟). On 19.07.2012, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi even ordered the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and the police authorities to stall the construction at the site. It, however, appears that intervention of the authorities only took place in pursuance to the Orders passed by this Court on 20.07.2012. In terms of the said Order, this Court opined that it was the ASI, which ought to take possession of the site to carry out necessary exercise and determine the significance of what is found at site. We took note of a letter of Mr. Shoaib Iqbal dated 13.06.2012 produced by the authorities wherein he himself had requested for intervention of the Chief Minister for handing over the site to the ASI; for excavation and re-building of what he claimed to be the Akbr-a-badi Masjid; and for stoppage of the work being carried out by the DMRC. We further opined that it was not proper for him or any other person to start construction over the site, but such a step had possibly arisen on account of lack of any timely action. The significance of the role of the ASI was also apparent from the
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communication dated 28.09.2007 addressed by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (for short, „DUAC‟) to M/s. Pradeep Sachdeva on the issue of re-development of the area around Jama Masjid where the DUAC had requested that necessary archaeological excavation would be required by the ASI. The Court was informed that this claim started assuming communal overtone and there was hesitancy on the part of the authorities to intervene. We, thus, directed that there should be no further construction nor should the place be used for the purpose of any congregation whatsoever. The MCD was directed to cordon off the area with police assistance. We also expressed hope that the Government at the highest level would take steps to convene meetings of all the stakeholders to defuse the situation.
4. In pursuance to our Order dated 20.07.2012, a status report has been filed by the Additional Commissioner of Police, Central District, Delhi dated 24.07.2012. In terms of the report, adequate police force was mobilized for the next day for the MCD officials to cordon off the site and several meetings were held with Peace and Aman Committees, Nagrik Suraksha Smitis and respectable persons of the area to brief the community on the developments and neutralize any rumour mongering. The work of cordoning off the site was started on 21.07.2012 at 10.30 a.m. and is stated to have continued till 2.30 p.m. The items found at the site consisting of Holy Quran and other religious items used for offering Namaz, PA system, etc. were inventorised and the same was signed by a self-appointed Khadim stated to be person at site. The entire
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process was videographed and photographed. These inventorised goods are stated to have been shifted to a mosque after intervention and handed over to the Imam of Ferozshah Kotla Mosque. It has been stated that despite all the precautions, the atmosphere got surcharged on the arrival of the MCD and police officials at site and the arte-facts found at site claimed to have been excavated were taken possession of. There was some rioting and damaging of public as well as private property in the evening of 21.07.2012 when large groups wanted to enter the premises at site resulting in injuries to policemen and necessary action qua the same has been taken. We must note here with regret the endeavours of a few miscreants who by their hostile action tend to create a surcharged atmosphere and damage public and private property. It is high time that such a group is made accountable both in civil law and criminal law for their misconceived actions.
5. The positive development has been that the Lieutenant Governor held a meeting with all the stakeholders in the afternoon of 23.07.2012 to defuse the situation, which was attended by the representatives of the Delhi Government; police authorities; ASI; North Delhi Municipal Corporation; local MLA; Chairman, Wakf Board; Chairman, Delhi Minorities Committee; Shahi Imam of Fatehpur Masjid and the representatives of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The Lieutenant Governor exhorted all the stakeholders to abide by the Orders of this Court and maintain peace and harmony and also urged the ASI to take up investigation of the site expeditiously. All present assured full co-operation and agreed not
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to issue provocative press statements, which would create public disharmony.
6. The status report, however, goes further to state that since it is the holy month of Ramzan, groups are moving in the area offering Namaz and attending Taravi in nearby mosque and, thus, any rumour regarding demolition of the recently built structure had the possibility of setting off the crowd in a mob frenzy. Such mobs were tactfully dispersed by the police officials deployed in the area.
7. We may notice that in the proceedings held on 25.07.2012, we have taken note of the assurance held by all the stakeholders to the Lieutenant Governor and have expressed our confidence that in view of pendency of the matter before this Court, there would be adherence to the assurance extended in the meeting convened by the Lieutenant Governor on 23.07.2012. While we appreciate this spirit of all the stakeholders, we hope that they would keep in mind the following words of wisdom of the father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi:
“The need of the moment is not one religion, but mutual respect and tolerance of the devotees of the different religions.” 8. A separate status report has been filed by the Deputy Commissioner, City Zone, North Delhi Municipal Corporation. The MCD states that it came to its notice that after the land was transferred to the DMRC on 11.04.2012, certain unauthorized activities were going on on the land, which needed to be stopped
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immediately and construction activity was detected on 17.07.2012 on the field staff of Horticulture Department going to the site when police was again requested to stop the unauthorized encroachment on the government land. The MCD also received a letter on 18.07.2012 from the ASI that the unauthorized construction falls within the regulated area of centrally protected monuments and the same cannot be undertaken without obtaining permission from the NMA / competent authority. In view thereof, even a public notice was given in leading newspapers in Delhi in the following terms :
“BE IT KNOWN TO ALL CONCERNED THAT ARCHEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA HAS INFORMED REGARDING ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES BEING CARRIED ON AT SUBHASH PARK, OPPOSITE RED FORT, DELHI IN AND AROUND PROTECTED MONUMENT OF RED FORT IN VIOLATION OF THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS AND ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES AND REMAINS ACT, 1958, RULES, 1959 AND THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS AND ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES AND REMAINS (AMENDMENT AND VALIDATION) ACT, 2010 ON THE PRETEXT OF EXPOSURE OF REMAINS OF AKBARABADI MOSQUE AT THE SITE. IT IS CLARIFIED THAT THE SAID LAND BELONGS TO NORTH DELHI MUNICIPAL CORPORATION AND ANY CONSTRUCTION OVER THE SAME IS LIABLE FOR ACTION UNDER DMC ACT, APART FROM ACTION UNDER THE SAID ACT. ALL THE CONCERNED ARE NOTIFIED THAT ANY PERSON FOUND INVOLVED IN RAISING CONSTRUCTION OVER THE SAID SITE SHALL BE PROSECUTED AS PER LAW.”
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9. In the latter part of the day, a letter was received from the DMRC to take back the land and in pursuance to a meeting held with the Secretary, Urban Development and the Delhi Police, a decision was taken to do so, but no police force was provided, though the officials of the MCD waited till 9.00 p.m. on 18.07.2012. Thus, possession was taken over on 19.07.2012 in the morning on „as is where is‟ basis and a letter was sent to the DCP (Central) to provide police force to maintain law and order at site. 10. The status report of the MCD also makes a reference to some local representatives of the area along with police force and the mob coming to the office of the Deputy Commissioner and pressurizing him to grant conditional approval for continuing the prayers till the decision was taken by the MCD. Such permission was, however, subsequently withdrawn in pursuance to the decision taken by the MCD, now NDMC.
11. The factum of the entire area being cordoned off has been noted in the report. The version of the police and the MCD (now NDMC), post-passing of our Order, is more or less identical. It is, however, stated that the ASI officials, who came to site, did not take possession of the two boxes containing the alleged articles found at site of broken pieces of pottery.
12. Since our Order dated 20.07.2012 also called upon the MCD to submit latest status report regarding Jama Masjid Re-
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development Plan, it has been stated that approval for the same was granted by the Standing Committee on 14.10.2009 vide Resolution No. 241. The DUAC accorded its approval on 30.07.2010 and the administrative approval for the preliminary estimate of Rs.145.43 crores was granted by the Corporation vide Resolution No. 629 dated 12.12.2011. However, Re-development Plan is stated not to have been executed for want of approval from the NMA and the ASI. But the case has been referred to the concerned authorities by the Town Planning Department of the MCD (now NDMC). The land in question falls within the land use of „park‟ and „upper level walk way‟. The MCD has emphasized the significance of a notice dated 19.07.2012 received by it on 24.07.2012 where directions have been issued by the ASI to remove the unauthorized construction, which had come up in the present case. Since the same is within the regulated area of the protected monuments, it has been categorically stated that the illegal construction existing at site is an encroachment on public land belonging to the MCD (now NDMC), which had come up without any prior permission / sanction and in gross violation of the land use apart from being within the regulated area of the protected monuments and, therefore, liable to be removed. The notice dated 19.07.2012 reads as under:
“F.No. DC/405/2012-M-(U/C)-259 Government of India, Archaeological Survey of India, Delhi Circle, Safdarjung Tomb, New Delhi – 110 003.
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Dated 19-7-2012 NOTICE WHEREAS it has been noticed that some unauthorized construction is coming up in the land of Municipal Corporation of Delhi at Subhash Park which fall in regulated area of centrally protected monument of Red Fort and Sunehri Masjid. Construction within the regulated area of a centrally protected monument without obtaining No Objection Certificate for the same from the competent authority is illegal under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010. WHEREAS as per the provision of Section 20B of the said Act, every area beginning at the protected limits of the concerned centrally protected monument, as the case may be, and existing upto a distance of 100 meters in all directions shall be prohibited area of the purpose of constructions and mining and further beyond 200 meters from the limit of prohibited area of declared as regulated area for the purpose of constructions/mining/repair/renovation/reconstruction /addition/alteration. Under Section 30(B) of the Act, whoever raises any construction in the regulated area without the permission of the competent authority or in contravention of the permission granted by the competent authority, shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or with fine which may extent to one lakh rupees or with both. A copy of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 is enclosed herewith for ready reference.
NOW THEREFORE, you are directed to remove the said unauthorized construction within 15 days of
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the receipt of this notice failing which the same will be removed at your cost. sd/- Superintending Archaeologist The Deputy Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, City Zone, M.L. Underground Car Parking, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi. … … … … … … … …” (emphasis supplied) 13. In the contours of the factual matrix set out hereinabove, we heard all the stakeholders. An application for intervention was filed on behalf of Mr. Shoaib Iqbal, MLA stating that he had been pursuing the cause of Akbr-a-badi Masjid since the last ten years and, thus, should be permitted to intervene. We heard Mr. Kirti Uppal, learned senior counsel on behalf of the said applicant. The said applicant also filed another application seeking directions not to remove anything from the site, allow Namaz prayers in the area, religious books, which had been brought to site, should not be touched and for the ASI to submit a report in a time-bound manner within three months. The police authorities have pointed out to us that the area does not fall within the constituency of the said applicant, namely, Mr. Shoaib Iqbal, MLA and this position has not been disputed. 14. A contempt petition bearing Cont. Cas. (C) No. 459/2012 has also been filed by one Vikas Gupta alleging that there had been
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violation of the Orders passed by this Court on 20.07.2012 qua both construction and congregation at site.
15. Another contempt petition bearing Cont. Cas. (C) No. 460/2012 has been filed by S.S. Sai Baba Om Jee, Baba Pandit Nand Kishore Mishra and Sardar Ravi Ranjan Singh of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha making the same kind of allegations and of sloganeering at site. Specific allegations have been made against Mr. S.A. Bukhari, Imam of Jama Masjid; Mr. Shoaib Iqbal, MLA and others. It has been alleged that goons are roaming free around the areas with a threat to the public at large. The same three persons have also filed another writ petition bearing WP (C) No. 4432/2012 in the nature of a PIL making a grievance of the unauthorized construction and use of the site for any congregation without obtaining any requisite permission. A number of allegations relate to the past disputes and conduct of Mr. S.A. Bukhari and are not confined to the site in question. It has been denied that there is any mosque at site. It has been stated that innocent public is being misled. Inaction is alleged on the part of the authorities in permitting the unauthorized construction. A claim is made that there are markings and symbols, which would show that the site was possibly a temple. These are the conflicting claims and need to be verified.
16. It would be relevant to refer to some of the provisions (Articles) of the Constitution, which read as under:
“25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.–
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(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion;
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. Explanation I. – The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion. Explanation II. – In sub-clause (b) of clause, reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly. 26. Freedom to manage religious affairs.– Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right (a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; (c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and (d) to administer such property in accordance with law.”
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17. A bare perusal of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution makes it amply clear that they embody the principles of religious tolerance that have been basic features of the Indian Civilization. However, the provisions of both the Articles are subject to public order, morality and health, that is to say that no religious sect may carry on activities which may disturb morality or order in the State. Article 25 confers the right of freedom of conscience and right freely to practice and propagate religion on all individuals, but such a practice and propagation of religion shall not be the one which disturbs or endangers public order and might lead to a serious situation of disturbed law and order. 18. Article 25 does not confer by itself any right to property. It does not specifically deal with the rights of a religious denomination to own or acquire property.
19. Article 26 confers the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes. It, however, does not guarantee the freedom to establish and maintain them at a particular place or to make it immune from the acquisition. When Article 26 permits the acquisition, by the State, of lands belonging to religious or charitable institutions, then the public or any section of the public cannot take the law onto its own hands and build a structure on any land belonging to the government. The land in question is undisputedly a property of the MCD (now NDMC) and the persons, who built the structure at the site, are liable of the offence of „trespassing‟.
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20. Religion is certainly a matter of faith with individuals or communities and it is not necessarily theistic. Restrictions by the State upon free exercise of religion are permitted both under Articles 25 and 26 on the grounds of public order, morality and health. See The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt, AIR 1954 SC 282.
21. No right in an organized society can be absolute. Enjoyment of one‟s rights must be consistent with the enjoyment of rights also by others. See Acharya Maharajshri etc. v. State of Gujarat, (1975) 1 SCC 11.
22. While the citizens of this country are free to profess, practice and propagate such religion, faith or belief as they choose; so far as the State is concerned, i.e., from the point of view of the State, the religion, faith or belief of a person is immaterial. To it, all are equal and all are entitled to be treated equally. The State has to be neutral in all cases. It cannot be biased or inclined towards any sect on such a scenario. At least, an elected member of the Assembly, who belongs to the ruling government and, thus, a part of the State, should not have resorted to illegal construction. The State has no religion. The State is bound to honor and to hold the scales even between all religions. It may not advance the cause of one religion to the detriment of another.
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23. Mr. Aman Lekhi, learned senior counsel emphasized that the matter should be viewed from a secular perspective and the verification must be done, but there cannot be a premium on unauthorized construction, which is alleged to have been done with a „motive‟. He, thus, canvassed for demolition of the structure and relied upon the observations made in paras 80 and 82 of the judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui and Others v. Union of India and Others, (1994) 6 SCC 360 at page 417 where mosque has been held to be subject to the provisions of the statutes of limitation and acquisition apart from the right of adverse possession. The acquisition of the site was upheld. The Supreme Court emphasized that the status of a mosque in the secular ethos of India under the Constitution is the same and equal to that of the place of worship of any other religion and it is neither more nor less. 24. To sum up the conflicting positions, which are taken by different stake-holders, we find that in the digging, some articles have been found. The claim of one community is that these are the remains of Akbr-a-badi Masjid and would prove that such a mosque existed. They want this Court to allow Namaz prayer in the area. Other group claims that there are marks and symbols which would show that site was possibly a temple. This group, thus, insists that there may be further excavations for this purpose. Even this group wants, in the meantime, to perform Puja and for this purpose they want to bring idols on this site. In
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this backdrop, the first question is the verification of the articles which have been found there from archaeological point of view by an expert body, namely, the ASI. Second question pertains to the interim arrangements, which are required during the period such an investigation is carried out. Third aspect pertains to the structure / unauthorized construction, which has already been carried out. We have heard the counsel for the parties on all these aspects. 25. We may notice that all the stakeholders are at ad idem on the issue that necessary excavation, verification and site analysis can be carried out only by the ASI with the assistance of technical expertise. Therefore, this positive attitude needs to be appreciated, which is even otherwise in tune with legal position. The ASI, being a scientific body, is appropriate body to which the land should be handed over in the present case. It is an expert body which can investigate as to the remains which are contended by the people. Being an autonomous body, it will be able to conduct a research free from any political pressure, bias or undue influence. The functions and responsibilities of the ASI as per the statute are:
“1. Protection of monuments and sites under AMASR Act, 1958; 2. Maintenance and conservation of centrally protected monuments, sites and remains of national importance; 3. Exploration and excavation of archaeological sites; 4. Scientific preservation of monuments and antiquarian remains;
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5. Architectural survey of monuments and buildings; 6. Development of epigraphical research, numismatic studies; 7. Registration and regulation of trade of antiquities under AAT Act, 1972; 8. Setting up of site museums; 9. Horticultural and environmental up gradation; 10. Publication of technical reports, guidebooks, etc.; 11. Institute of Archaeology for imparting training in archaeology and allied subjects; 12. Underwater archaeological operations.” 26. As to whether there was any mosque at site or not, the significance of what was found at site, etc. are all matters which only an expert body, i.e., ASI can determine. The basic role of the ASI, in the present case, is to ascertain as to whether the remains, which are supposed to be found are of any importance from archaeological point of view. The ASI is also to find thorough scientific expedition in the nearest possible realistic time-frame and ascertain whether there was ever an Akbr-a-badi Masjid or not. In addition to this, the ASI shall carry out this process in the adjoining area which is still unoccupied to ascertain whether there was any religious building or anything belonging to any other religion. 27. Thus, the ASI has to carry out the task at site. We may note that the learned counsel for the ASI, in fact, volunteered that steps were being taken to begin this process, but it may take some time. The ASI emphasized that there should be adequate
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protection at site from the police authorities so that they can carry out their task unhindered and any ingress and egress in the premises should not be permitted. Further, excavation may also become necessary.
28. Coming to the issue of construction, which has been carried out, we have already taken note of the submission of Mr. Lekhi. His plea for demolition of the structure was also supported by the petitioners in WP (C) No. 4432/2012 and the MCD (now NDMC). In this context, Mr. Kirti Uppal had submitted before us, in no uncertain terms, that rule of law should prevail and that he could not be heard to argue to the contrary. To which, the Bench had queried as to whether the application of rule of law would include bringing down a structure, which had come up at site overnight without due sanction of the authorities concerned. Mr. Kirti Uppal avoided a direct answer by submitting it is not for him to suggest whether or not the structure should be demolished. Alas! Such an approach shows that warring parties for their own narrow political motives are paying lip service to the fundamental edifice of our State, which is, the rule of law. We posed a pointed query to him as to whether there was any prior permission for construction. He conceded there was none! He also acknowledged that he could not seriously dispute the position that the construction, thus, made was unauthorized. Mr. Atyab Siddiqui, learned counsel for the intervener also sought permission of the Court for some group of persons to offer
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Namaz at the site. On the other hand, group of other religion wants to perform Puja at the same site. 29. We have no hesitation in saying that the endeavour to construct anything at site was misplaced as it was without any sanction / permission. If there were persons aggrieved by the inaction of the authorities including the ASI in carrying out excavation and site verification, the remedy was to approach the Court for appropriate directions and not to dig the site themselves or raise any construction on it. Such endeavour, in fact, impedes and endangers the exercise to be carried out by the ASI at site.
30. We may emphasize that even if by the end result of scientific expedition to be carried on by the ASI, it is established that during old times, a temple or a mosque once stood here, and it is to be treated as protected monument, the land will have to remain with the ASI, which is to see whether to build or not to build a monument, or to preserve it in its natural state, so as to open the place for public use, etc. For this reason also, both the stake-holders should stay off their hands and exclusive charge has to be with the ASI.
31. We would like to emphasize that religious colour may be attached to things, which are used to profess or practice a religion, like the holy Quran for Muslims, the Bhagwad Gita for Hindus and so on and so forth. But land is something, which belongs to the people as a whole, which, in turn, belongs to only one religion, i.e., public order, morality, health and welfare. It is rightly said by George
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Bernard Shaw, “There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.” It must be noted that all religions stand for the welfare of one and all, and in a secular country like ours, there is no religion bigger than the other, all stand on an equal footing. Therefore, the matter is to be left to the wisdom of the ASI, depending upon the results of investigation as to the nature of use of this land. Of course, it would be subject to further directions of this Court, which can be given after hearing the parties.
32. The last aspect to be dealt with is the arrangement. We have already noted above that both the parties want to perform their rituals. In the given circumstances, that may not be appropriate when both sides have expressed their faith in the ASI and the matter is yet to be investigated and also when all the stake-holders have not only expressed their solidarity but given assurance to maintain peace and harmony, we are of the view that till the time the ASI comes with some concrete findings, restraint should be exercised by these stake-holders. It would facilitate smooth and unhindered progress in the task to be carried out by the ASI facilitating the ASI to complete the same speedily and in the shortest possible time. Thus, it is in the interest of peace and harmony that prayers are not allowed to be offered by any of the stake-holders. The decision will depend on the outcome of the result of investigation to be carried on by the ASI. It will also depend upon one fact, i.e., as to what use the ASI will put the site to. So, therefore, it would be premature on
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our part to give permission to offer Namaz by Muslims or perform Puja by Hindus as it may lead to serious problems later. 33. In the end, we must note that all the learned counsel for the parties requested that the work to be carried out by the ASI should be under the supervision of a retired Judge of this Court to give greater credence to the process and ensure timely conclusion / endeavour. However, we find no reason for issuance of such a direction at this stage. It is the ASI which has the technical expertise. The impartiality of the ASI is not in issue. We did impress upon the learned counsel that this Court intends to monitor the process so that the glitches, if any, are ironed out.
34. In view of the aforesaid factual matrix, we proceed to give the following directions:
(i) The ASI should begin its task in a right earnest with all technical assistance to verify the position at site as also qua the items discovered from the site, which they should take possession of. It will be open to the ASI to carry out further digging or any other activity at site as they deem appropriate for verifying the site position and respective claims.
(ii) The MCD (now NDMC) and the police authorities will render all assistance to ensure that the area is kept cordoned off for an unhindered access to the ASI to carry out its exercise and requisite security should be provided to prevent any untoward incidence.
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(iii) No congregation of any kind would be permitted at the site, which includes complete area cordoned off.
(iv) The directions passed by us on 20.07.2012 restraining any further construction on the site would continue till varied.
(v) The stand of the ASI is unequivocally reflected in its notice dated 19.07.2012 with which MCD (now NDMC) is, in fact, in agreement. The said two concerned authorities with the assistance of police should, thus, implement the statutory mandate without fail.
(vi) The police will maintain vigil so that law and order is maintained at site and unnecessary rumour mongering and endeavour to give communal overtone is prevented. All measures as are necessary to do so will be taken.
(vii) The police authorities will also make all endeavours to bring to book the miscreants who caused damage to public and private property, injured persons and attempted to create a communal incident at site post our Order dated 20.07.2012.
(viii) The Government at the highest level would continue its endeavour to ensure that all stakeholders adhere to their assurances given to the Lieutenant Governor and to this Court for maintaining peace and harmony.
(ix) The ASI will submit a status report to us in a sealed cover by the next date showing the progress made.
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35. List for directions on 11.10.2012. 36. We end with a fervent hope that better sense will prevail over one and all, who will let the ASI perform its task and not to seek to draw their own conclusions or give unnecessary communal overtone to the issue or take law onto their own hands, especially when this Court will be monitoring all aspects or the issues involved therein.
ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, J. RAJIV SHAKDHER, J. JULY 30, 2012 madan