The Places of Worship Act, 1991 has effectively frozen conversion/re-conversion of any place of worship after 15th August, 1947, a judgement effectively upheld in the Ayodhya judgement. The purpose was to not only check communal hatred but also to put an end to any possible explorations and conflicts arising from claims and counter-claims. But as is well known by now, mere laws and acts have ceased to inspire respect or control from those elements of Indian society who cheer on bulldozers even after the Supreme Court’s stay or lock out hijabi Muslim girls from schools where even the Karnataka HC’s judgement on hijab did not apply. The judiciary is the last wall standing in the defense of the Indian Constitution today. Despite all its shortcomings, which even the Chief Justice NV Ramana has acknowledged in his speech at the foundation stone ceremony for the new High Court complex in Srinagar, the judiciary still functions according to the supreme legal text of the country rather than by the whims and fancies of powerful politicians or by mob-frenzy. Even in the Gyanvapi case, ‘results’ of the otherwise confidential survey in the District Court have been illegally made public and taken cognizance of by the Varanasi court. This is a serious cause for concern, and the Court’s judgement to bar entry to the area and seal it off is in complete contravention of judicial precedent.
The follow-up to such events is always the demand for ‘peace’ and ‘tranquillity’ from minority communities. As has often been said, the commitment to peace cannot erase the demand for justice. Lessons from history must be learnt, rather than repeated.