Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the status quo with regard to the usage of the Idgah Maidan in Bengaluru’s Chamarajpet neighbourhood, thus putting the Karnataka government’s decision to let Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations there on hold. The bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, A.S. Oka, and M.M. Sundresh remarked that, “For 200 years it was not done, you also admit, so why not status quo, for 200 years whatever was not held, let it be.”
The significance of this verdict is immense in these times of turbulence while strengthening belief in the institutional process in the country. For a long time, there has been an apparent public discourse about institutional decay and a lack of reliance on the procedures of the law. This perception is further strengthened by the media hype given to certain cases that are polarising in nature. Furthermore, there have been doubts that majoritarianism and protection of sentiments of particular communities are being preserved owing to some people with vested interests. One of the major contributors to this perception has been the popular notion of delayed hearings on cases in courts of law, especially the Supreme Court, on certain politically significant matters.
These days, the media, especially the social media discourse has been dominated by communal disharmony, othering and polarisation. In recent years, people have tried to rely more on protest culture to make the government listen to their demands which has often resulted in arrests and incarceration. The recent ruling of the Supreme Court has shown us that, it is necessary for the governmental institutions to generate reassurance and faith in the people so that democratic culture is preserved and public institutions are relied upon. Protest culture has its own demerits given that it leads to disruption of the normal flow of public life while putting strain on law and order agencies. It also sometimes leads to violent clashes when fringe elements use it for their conservative ends. However, it is not to deny the agency of people and their democratic rights, but rather to highlight that channels exist through which people can proceed with their grievances and get justice. Therefore, people must choose the path wisely so that the procedure of law and justice is upheld and should not choose a path that may lead to doom.