Last week, this author had the occasion to take part in a virtual panel discussion on the intersection between faith and law organised by the department of law of a Pune-based institution. The specific theme of the discussion was the continued relevance of the Bombay High Court’s well-known and widely debated judgement in The State of Bombay v. Narasu Appa Mali (1951). The judgement, which was delivered by Justice Mohammadali Carim Chagla and Justice Pralhad Balacharya Gajendragadkar in the context of a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Bombay Prevention of Hindu Bigamous Marriages Act 1946, is known for its take on Articles 13, 14, 15 and 25(1) of the Constitution, and continues to be the subject of passionate debates in the legal fraternity. Naturally, given the contemporary purchase of the topic and the fact that its different layers are yet to be conclusively laid to rest by the Supreme Court, this author accepted the invitation to share his views on the topic in the august company of retired Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, and distinguished academics.
While each discussant had her or his own erudite views on the topic, what struck me as odd and interesting was the unquestioned acceptance of the claim of universal validity of “the Global Human Rights Compact”, mostly by voices from the academia, while in the same breath advocating for greater “openness and broad-mindedness” in accommodating diverse points of view.