Open Letter to Honorable Chief Justice of India

Before expressing my views, allow me to quote the greatest president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, whom I consider the most remarkable leader of the nineteenth century. He says,” With malice to none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let’s strive to finish the work we are in… to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

History has chosen you to hold a key for peace or perpetual instability. You are all set to initiate the hearings on Article 370, which grants Kashmir a special place within the Indian Union. The world is full of precedences where democratic nations have demonstrated unrestricted appreciation of the political, cultural, traditional, economic, and historical values of the People. I am confident that you are aware that the oldest democracy, the United States, has an enormous body of constitutional provisions protecting political and economic rights and promoting the interests of the Red Indian people. The people of Hawaii entertain and enjoy special political and economic privileges within the rubric of the American Constitution. In 2018 when President Trump imposed a ban on Muslims from entering the United States, it was challenged by the Hawaiian court on the basis that the ban was assessed based on reams of evidence that it was motivated by religious animus. However, the ban was upheld by the Supreme Court and subsequently repealed by the Biden Administration.

It reflects intellectual freedom and institutional strength sought from the Constitution. Clearly, I don’t imagine or imply that the American Constitution must be emulated in its entirety across the world. Every nation has its history and background upon which its forefathers must have reflected while framing the Constitution. Therefore article 370 must have specific promises made by Indian leaders to the people of Kashmir, which must be kept and honoured.
As India is an emerging global power, the world is deeply concerned and watching the performance of the judicial, secular, and democratic institutions of India. Their concern is abundantly reflected in the current US state department report. I am sure you are aware that the Freedom House” has mentioned a few countries, including India, Brazil, Hungry, and Turkey, where the politics have turned in an authoritarian direction. The historical testimony regarding the government’s actions primarily demonstrates that governments of all stripes have an inherent tendency towards dictatorial attitudes.

However, it is the constitutional obligation of the institutions to impose checks and balances, ensuring the safeguarded interests of the citizens. Very concernedly, the German novelist Thomas Mann gave heads up to the institutions and governments, specifically Germanys in 1938 that the biggest mistake the people in democracies can undertake is “self-forgetfulness. Mr. Thomas further feared that it was dangerously easy for civil societies to take the advantages of democracy for granted, deleting from the memory the arduous process of creating the institutions reigning and enforcing the laws to create a just society. The failure to perform the constitutional duty of the institutions renders nations nonfunctional and non-compliant with democratic principles. Nazi fascism would have never gained traction in German society if the social, political, and legal institutions had resisted; liberal societies and democracies can only qualify by recognizing the people’s historical political and civil rights.

I know our politicians cannot view things beyond their election or reelection. It is known that politicians are apt to stir clan, tribal, and religious-based patriotism because it gains them power. But the issues like Kashmir are not to be addressed through a very narrow perspective of the political expediency of any political party. The political establishments come and go, but the nations are there to stay to protect people from descending into chaos, violence, hatred, bigotry, and, finally, anarchy.

I believe that your impartiality and position can open a window of opportunity for reconciliation, reconstruction, and resolution of the Kashmir issue. Your justice can set a mood of the moment from despair to hope and can help guide politicians on all sides. Your courage and justice in restoring Article 370 of the Indian Constitution will undoubtedly restore the trust and create a thrill of hope for Kashmiris to look forward, which has been violated repeatedly. I hope and urge you to consider all historical facts and help overcome the bitterness of distrust and deceit and demonstrate to Kashmiris that the Indian legal institutions are well grounded on the principles. I hope you will rise to the occasion and display a thoroughly aroused conscience

With Regards
Altaf Qadri
Board Member KGC