Editorial

Justice to Rama

by Vaidehi Sachin

A 125-year-old Hindu-Muslim dispute that repeatedly frayed India's secular fabric was sought to be settled with a court ruling that the place where the Babri mosque in Ayodhya stood before it was razed by Hindu mobs in 1992 was indeed the birthplace of Ram revered by millions. The verdict on ownership of the religious site landed with big surprise responding to arguments that a chance should be given to reconciliation in the 60-year-old case. The Ayodhya land will be divided into three parts. Earlier, the Supreme Court had deferred its ruling on the pronouncement of the Ayodhya verdict by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. There was a divergence of views in the apex court bench of Justices R.V. Ravindran and H.L. Gokhale. According to the bench, while one member felt that the special leave petition be dismissed, another was of the view that notice be issued and the order stayed. Under the convention, when one member of the bench favours the issuance of notice though the other member of the bench disagrees, notices are issued. Stating this, Justice Ravindran passed the order staying the pronouncement of the Ayodhya verdict by a week and issue of notice to all parties to the suit. Lawyers of both sides in the case - Hindu and Muslim litigants - welcomed the Supreme Court decision, saying a verdict in the case could not be put off indefinitely as the chances of reconciliation after years of litigation were slim. "Right now there is no possibility. Any reconciliation will happen only after the ... judgement," Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer of the Sunni Central Board of Waqf, the Muslim litigants, said. Tripathi's petition was turned down by the three-judge special bench of the Allahabad High Court. 

While two judges S.U. Khan and Sudhir Agrawal rejected the application, the third judge, Dharam Veer Sharma, allowed the plea, following which Tripathi chose to move the apex court. The Allahabad High court has given a verdict on Thursday on the Ayodhya issue. The riots which followed after the demolition of the mosque were some of the country's worst religious violence since Partition in 1947. The verdict has come at a time when the government, is busy with the preparations for the Commonwealth Games that are bedeviled by concerns over filthy accommodation and health and security. The case over the 16th century Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya town was one of the biggest security challenges in India this year, along with a Maoist insurgency and a Kashmiri separatist rebellion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. Hindus and Muslims have quarrelled for more than a century over the history of the Babri mosque. Hindus claim that the mosque stands on the birthplace of their god-king Rama, and was built after the destruction of a Hindu temple by a Muslim invader in the 16th century. The dispute flared up in 1992 after a Hindu mob destroyed the mosque and nearly 2,000 were killed in rioting between Hindus and Muslims across the country. People are saying it is judicial resolution or arbitration. However, a majority seems to be satisfied and happy. That is the way it should be. We Indians need to be taught to be obedient to the authority rather than being unduly litigant. Why judiciary cannot be a resolver or arbitrator. When society and the politicians have failed to mediate and resolve an issue, the court stepped in to do this pious duty to the nation. My humble request to Supreme Court is to summarily dismiss any appeal sought to be filed with heavy cost and heavy penalty. We must learn to respect the judgment of a sufficiently elevated court like the high court. See, even Ajmal Kasab is moving the high court and trying to say that he did not fire any shot and he is innocent. This is clear misuse of judicial provisions created in good faith. The decisions at Panchayat level are to be upheld as long as they are not found to be glaringly wrong. Our citizens are to be taught to obey the pronouncements of the courts for the sake of character building as also to reduce work load of higher courts. 

The Supreme Court is to be approached when an interpretation of a law is sought to be clarified. On matter of facts and such facts which cannot be easily established and are very ancient, the time of Supreme Court is not to be wasted. High court has given something to everybody, be happy and develop your areas either jointly or separately and create an atmosphere of peace and harmony (which already exists in Ayodhya). All concerned parties and Governments should aid and assist such a reconciliatory process. Here I express displease at the statement of Mayavati that to implement court order is responsibility of the centre. The responsibility of centre in my opinion is to expedite case against her for disproportionate income and cause her to be punished. When I was a young, I saw my father resolving issues at local level on the spot by asking a suspected litigant to pick up Gangajal or pick up his/her son and swear by him/her and I saw with my own eyes people breaking down and accepting that they were lying. This was a very good example of setting things at local level by exercising your moral authority. Court judgments should not be seen merely as exercise of judicial authority but also the moral authority, social responsibility which the judges in the instant case have so admirably demonstrated. Let us not split the hair and be unduly judicious because all cases cannot be mechanically weighed on judicial balance especially cases like Ayodhya dispute which traverses through various times, regimes and varying judicial systems. Resolution and arbitration is pious duty of not only the judges but all respected members of our society. Let us unanimously accept this verdict and go about jointly constructing a mosque and a temple side by side and live happily ever after as brothers and let our children be healthy and prosperous. Let our nation become strong. The court also issued notice to all the parties to the title suit and asked Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati to be present in the court when the case is heard. The ruling followed a petition by retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi seeking postponement of the high court verdict at least until the end of the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games. It sought the court's direction to the parties to explore possibilities of an out of court amicable settlement. The Allahabad HC in the Ayodhya land title case has ordered that the disputed holy site in Ayodhya be divided into three parts: one-third for Hindu Mahasabha, one-third for Sunni Waqf Board and one-third for the Nirmohi Akhara. The court ruled that the land on which the idol of Lord Rama stood belonged to the Hindus and part of the land under the central dome of the Babri Masjid was the Ram Janamsthan which will go to the Hindus. The court has also ruled that the site will be in status quo for the next three months. The three-member bench of the Allahabad High Court, comprising justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma delivered a split verdict in 60-year old Ayodhya title suit. Justice S U Khan said let the land be divided in three parts, one each for the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the party representing Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha - the party for Lord Ram. Khan said the area where Ram's idol is should be given to Hindus. Muslims to be given a separate portion of the courtyard, and third litigant Nirmohi Akhara another section of the courtyard. 

Justice D V Sharma decreed the title suit in favour of Hindus, said lawyer K N Bhatt, who represented the party on behalf of 'Ram Lalla'. Justice Sudhir Agarwal ruled that the area where Ram's idol has been installed should be given to Hindus. The Sunni Wakf Board's plea for upholding title on land was dismissed. The court also said status quo will be maintained at the disputed site in Ayodhya for three months, claimed lawyers Ravi Shanker Prasad and K N Bhatt. The 2.7 acres of land on which the Babri Masjid stood was built by Babar's noble Mir Baki in 1528. In essence, the ownership of the disputed site to be divided into three parts: the site of the Ramlala idol to Lord Ram, Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, Sunni Wakf Board gets the rest. The court said since Ram is a deity, the place has significant interest as far as Hindus are concerned. Justice S U Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice D V Sharma carried the proceedings to pronounce the judgement in the Ayodhya title suit. In a split verdict, the three member judge of the Lucknow bench of the High Court of Allahabad High Court ruled that the place where the Ram idols are placed will go to the Hindus.

The area covered under the central dome of the disputed structure is the birthplace of Lord Rama as per faith and belief of Hindus. Disputed structure was always treated, considered and believed to be a mosque and practised by Mohammedans for worship accordingly. However, it has not been proved that it was built during the reign of Babar in 1528. In the absence of any otherwise pleadings and material it is difficult to hold as to when and by whom the disputed structure was constructed but this much is clear that the same was constructed before the visit of Joseph Tieffenthaler in Oudh area between 1766 to 1771.The building in dispute was constructed after demolition of Non-Islamic religious structure, i.e., a Hindu temple. The idols were kept under the central dome of the disputed structure in the night of 22nd/23rd December 1949. Other Original Suits no. 3 of 1989 and 4 of 1989 are barred by limitation. The court dismissed the petition by Sunni Waqf Board and favoured a temple. The court also said that the Babur built the mosque after demolishing temple at birthplace of Ram. However, the court gave a substantive part of the land to the Sunni Wakf Board. The remaining land will go to the Akhada. The Babri Masjid committed said it was disappointed with the verdict and would move the Supreme Court. Meanwhile K N Bhatt lawyer of Ram Lalla said there was no time limit for passing a final decree. The historic Ayodhya verdict was delivered 18 years after the demolition of the Babri Majid on December 6,1992. The landmark 60-year old Ayodhya title suit verdict was delivered by the three-member Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Justice D V Sharma, Justice SU Khan and Justice Sudhir Agarwal. The only hurdle in the pronouncement of this verdict was cleared by the Supreme Court when it dismissed the petition filed by retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi for deferment of the keenly-awaited judgement. An amicable solution could not be reached through negotiations between the two religious groups for decades, and, therefore, the verdict.