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The patent illegality of VHP’s demand for Ayodhya land - ii

Continued from

It has been argued by some pro-BJP commentators that several ancient undisputed structures like Sita ki Rasoi and Manas Bhawan stand in the vicinity of the Babari Masjid and cannot be handed over to the Muslim community in any circumstances. This is an erroneous view. In fact, the Supreme Court has specifically justified the acquisition of Manas Bhawan and Sita ki Rasoi. The Judgement itself justifies the acquisition of these structures on the ground that 
"In case the title to the Babari Masjid site is adjudicated in favour of the Muslims, the Masjid will have to be rebuilt on that site" and ‘the requisite adjacent area’ ‘utilized in an appropriate manner’. ... "The justification remains that the same (acquisition of the adjacent area) is necessary to ensure that the final outcome of adjudication should not be rendered meaningless by the existence of properties belonging to Hindus in the vicinity of the disputed structure in case the Muslims are found entitled to the disputed site. This obviously means that in the event of .... the disputed structure to be handed over to the Muslim community, their success should not be thwarted by denial of proper access to, and enjoyment of rights in, the disputed area by exercise of rights of ownership of Hindu owners of the adjacent properties. Obviously, it is for this reason that the adjacent area has also been acquired to make available to the successful party, that part of it which is considered necessary, for proper enjoyment of the fruits of success on the final outcome of the adjudication". 

Hence this above proposition falls to the ground. If considered necessary to effectuate the purpose of the acquisition, acknowledged Hindu land can be handed over to the Muslims. In any case, in and after acquisition, there is no distinction between Hindu and non-Hindu land, it is all 100% Government land, and the Government is the absolute owner thereof, except the Babari Masjid complex site at least, whose title is under adjudication.

The VHP has not produced any documents to support its claim that it owns the area of 47 acres out of 67 acres by virtue of purchase from previous owners or taken on permanent lease by the Government of UP. One would like to know where their 47 acres lie. Though it has a right to compensation, it is not known if it has filed a claim as owner with the Claim Commissioner. As owner, it has also the right to the return of ‘unutilized’, ‘excess’, ‘extra’, ‘superfluous’ land after the purpose of the acquisition has been fulfilled. But that comes later. Today it has no such right.

However, the VHP is demanding return of land that it claims to have owned before acquisition, now after 11 years, but before any progress toward resolution of the dispute and the judicial verdict in the title suit. To restore, any acquired land now is to undo the very act of acquisition which has been held to be constitutional and has been justified by the Supreme Court on the ground of necessity to re-establish communal harmony. So how can acquisition be undone now. Only if the Parliament repeals the Acquisition Act or amend it. But the Parliament, as presently constituted, cannot and will not oblige the BJP.

The VHP faces another hurdle. The declamatory suit was filed in 1950 by Nimohi Akhara (which is owner of the Ram Janamsthan Mandir adjacent to the Babari Masjid site) and not by the VHP. This is part of the consolidated title suit. Neither the VHP nor the RJMM Nyas was then born. So if the title suit is decided in favour of the Hindu community, the site will have to be restored to the Nimohi Akhara. It is known that Nimohi Akhara has not transferred its rights to the VHP or to the Nyas. So the Nimohi Akhara may decide to keep it and show the door to the VHP. 

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.

It is also argued by the Sangh Parivar that since, according to them, every Hindu wants it, the Babari Masjid site should be handed over to them. This is an unreasonable view based on ignorance of law. Can rights of parties and questions of fact be decided by a referendum? There could not be a worse example of majoritarianism. Such majoritarianism spells disaster for the rule of law and for democracy.

Today, the real issues are whether the Government will allow the so-called ‘Karsevaks’ to congregate in Ayodhya, whether the Government will allow the VHP unrestricted access to its pile of carved pillars etc., whether it will grant the VHP hordes free passage, or even provide them technical assistance, to transport some pillars to the concrete platform, or to another part of the acquired area, or whether it will use all its power, including firepower, to stop the fanatic hordes in their tracks. Will the Demolition drama be replayed?

However, to remove the public distrust and to set the record straight and, above all, to curb the possibility of mischief, the Central Government must administer a stern warning to, if not prosecute, the VHP that any attempt to break the law shall be met with all the force at its command and that the Government will not hesitate to use fire power to deal with any attempted invasion of its property. It should place Ayodhya, at least the acquired area, under army control and impose a ban on entry of Karsevaks and Ramsevaks into Ayodhya. It should seal all possible access routes from Karsevakpuram (where the carved pillars are piled) to the acquired area and particularly to the concrete platform. It should, finally, seal the stock of pillars etc. and take it into its custody, to be released to the VHP/Nyas only when it is allotted land in the acquired area for construction of the Mandir in accordance with law.

The Demolition was the worst act of Religious Terrorism in the history of independent India. Another act of Religious Terrorism will demolish the Constitution. Those who have taken the vow to defend the Constitution shall be held accountable before posterity.

The Muslim community will draw the natural conclusions from the total failure of the constitutional machinery and the defeat of the rule of law. So will other deprived and weak sections. It will generate alienation. How it will affect the future of the nation-building process can only be imagined. Our country would be moving in reverse gear and towards disintegration.
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