With the recent judicial activism of our revered courts coming under much deliberation and censure, the question that was posed by those in favour of a one-man judicialisation of politics, in an effort to remediate years’ worth of pending incongruities, was that it is a much needed augmentation of the democratic process that seeks to weed out the rot in a decaying system. But what happens if such judicial activism takes on a more subverted hue, where weeding out discrepancies is subject to the transcription of one individual’s yardstick of piety, beliefs, moralities and religiosity. How then is that process still truly democratic?
The latest summons for rounding up a database of Ahmadis presided over by Justice Siddiqui, in a follow-up of the oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, is a similar call for concern over judicial entities assuming more sanctimonious roles. While the calamitous aftermath of the Faizabad sit-in is still a fresh wound, this Trump-inspired round up is lamentable for it will further translate into policies and rulings that only seek to expose a vulnerable community to targeted violence and oppression can have audience in a court of law.
The judicial system, as the guardian of justice for all citizens, needs to uphold the rights and interests of the minorities rather than exacerbate simmering religious conflicts. The IHC has as of late, adopted a more dogmatic bent to its rulings; ban on valentine’s day, filters on social media sites, regulating content and policing the right to opinions through a heavy handed and inflated role of PEMRA and PTA. What it fails to account for is the impact of its rulings that fan religious dogmatism and condone the misplaced vigilante-mob justice promulgated by giving a judicial berth to religious intolerance. Where the presiding judge may hold the ruling as a step to allay the tension by appeasing more conservative elements, what can be interpreted thereby, is the court giving credence to offended religious sensibilities as opposed to the security of its citizens. A ruling that is tinted by religious exceptionalism, as intimated by the consultation of religious scholars, rather than the scope of the Constitution and rule of law, places the civil liberties of minorities in peril. Tagging an oppressed community like cattle, based on their beliefs is a step away from relegating them to concentration camps.
What needs to be mindful of the fact that in a multi-ethnic nation state, where the institution of religion is founded upon its demarcation of differences in dogmata, it is the judicial system and its honoured judges who, through their equitable judicial insight, ultimately maintain the equilibrium so desperately needed to prevent the miscarriage of justice at the hands of myopic relativism.