There are no two views on that the case should be expedited. In fact the Muslim community has been demanding a day-to-day hearing ever since February, 1986. On 6 December, 2002 I proposed that the Government create three additional posts of judges in Allahabad High Court and then request the Chief Justice to assign the three judges of the Special Bench exclusively to the suits.
The VHP’s demand is not new. In 1992, also it demanded, rather innocently, that it should be handed over the land outside the Masjid, promised that it will not touch the Masjid and stated that the construction will take years, by which time the title suit would be decided. It has no reply when it was asked why it assumed that the title suit would be decided in its favour! It had no reply either when it was asked whether in case the verdict of the title suit went against it, it would relocate the Mandir and demolish the construction already done and move the Mandir to another site. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. L.K. Advani himself placed this proposal before the then Prime Minister Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao but failed to convince him. Of course, Mr. Narasimha Rao was playing his own game. He wanted the Mandir to be constructed not by the VHP and its Nyas but by another Trust floated, if necessary, by his protégés Chandraswamy or by Shakaracharya Swaroopanand.
In the context of the legal principle involved, Rajiv Gandhi had the honesty to admit to me in 1991 not only that the Shilanyas was illegally performed within the disputed land but also to accept my view that it would have been illegal, even if it was performed outside the disputed area.
The VHP had vowed to begin the construction in accordance with its unlawful site plan, on the 12th March, 2002, law or no law. Now it has announced 15 March as the D-Day. Whether it will carry out its threat to break the law is a moot question. It will depend primarily on whether the BJP returns to power in UP in the ensuing elections and also on the signal from the RSS and the Vajpayee Government which have been blowing hot and cold. The Central Government has taken the year-long mass agitation by the VHP in its stride. It has permitted the ‘war’ waged by the VHP against the state to go on unchallenged. It has acquiesced in the violation of the law of the land. It has indeed bestowed freedom of the land on the VHP and its supporters. It has given them respectability and recognition. In a friendly overture, it has now tried to buy their favour by referring the demand to the Law Minister himself an acolyte of the RSS for examination, as if the Supreme Court judgement of October 1994 had remained unexamined for the last 8 years and can be interpreted unilaterally by the Government. All said and done, the BJP and the VHP are both members of the Sangh Parivar and the baton is in the hands of a Master Conductor. So the orchestra will play to his wishes and to the Hindutva gallery.
It is indeed paradoxical that while, across the border, a self-appointed President is endeavouring to separate State and Religion and to subject the religious elements to the rule of law, our secular democracy is surrendering, perhaps consciously and willfully, to the bluster, wile and threats of some Sadhus who have assembled under the VHP’s flag and who do not enjoy any mass support. Which is closer to a theocracy?
It is obvious that the VHP’s agitation is not a political gimmick but a well-crafted, well-orchestrated, well-timed political campaign to subvert the Rule of Law and ultimately the Constitution, with the objective of demolishing the Secular State and constructing a Hindu State in its rubble.
It may be that the VHP, facing demands from its supporters and donors, is trying to show some results. So it is trying to achieve through political pressure what it cannot achieve through legal means and enter through the backdoor, opened by an obliging and sympathetic government, when it cannot enter from the front. But the VHP’s immediate goal is to defeat an adverse judgement on title through a fait-accompli.