A Tale of Two Dinners: Read Justice Katju

Many people have read Dickens’ famous novel ‘ A Tale of Two Cities’.

I would like to relate a tale of two dinners, both of which were when I was in the Allahabad High Court.

One happened when I was a judge in the High Court. A senior judge of the High Court retired, and the judges gave a dinner in his honour. It was a stag dinner with only the High Court judges attending.

The seating was in order of seniority. But some vegetarian Hindu judges said they would not attend if they were made to sit next to a judge who was served a non vegetarian dish. Consequently the seating arrangement had to be drastically altered, to accommodate those judges.

Now one can understand a person being a vegetarian. Many people are. Even in America, which I often visit, I found some people who are vegans, which is a step beyond being vegetarian ( one told me vociferously the dangers to health of drinking cow milk ). But I never heard of anyone there who said he/she would not sit at dinner beside a person who ate meat. So is it not taking Hinduism to extremes ?

The other incident happened when I was a lawyer in the High Court in the 1980s. The High Court Bar Association gave a dinner in honour of a judge who was retiring.

The next day when I was sitting in the High Court Bar library, a Hindu colleague said ( perhaps mischievously ) that the meat which was served in the previous night’s dinner was jhatka meat. At this one Muslim lawyer who was sitting with us was shocked, and said that in future no Muslim lawyer of the High Court ( and there are plenty ) would ever attend a dinner given by the Bar Association.

Was that not taking Islam to extremes ? One can understand Muslims not eating non-halaal meat if they were aware it was jhatka. .But why such a hue.and cry if they ate it without being aware it was non-halaal ?

This reveals how backward Indian society still is, and how long will be our road to modernisation.



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