Analysis

Supreme Court vindicates Muslim stand on Babri Masjid

Lucknow: It took over seven months to break the quiet over the issue of Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid, as the Apex Court on May 9 admitted the appeals before its two-judge bench consisting of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice RM Lodha. The case which was called “Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, Faizabad, UP title suit”, and which was changed to a partition-suit by the exercise of inherent powers vested in the High Court, was decided on Sept 30, 2010, favouring the Hindu side by giving them two-thirds of the Babri Masjid and allocating one-third of it to the Muslim side. Muslims had been waging a struggle for the Babri Masjid almost since Partition. The case today has become an acid test for the survival of secularism in the country. The Sept 30, 2010 verdict gave a blow to secularism by validating the demolition of Babri Masjid on Dec 6, 1992 by Hindu terrorists aided and abetted by the State. The High Court verdict conferred the site of Babri Masjid the status of a deity believed to have been a birthplace of Lord Rama 9,00,000 years ago, and something which cannot lose its right to possession, even though the Babri Masjid stood on it for four centuries and hence, Babri Masjid cannot benefit even the rights of adverse possession. But a question arises: could this judgement have come if Babri Masjid had not been demolished? And, does not the judgement give an official approval to the demolition? 

No sooner than the Sept 30 2010 verdict came, overt and covert exercises to dissuade Muslims from going to the Supreme Court began. Many Muslim midwives were resurrected by the state to somehow stop Muslims from going to the SC.

Undeterred by the shameless onslaught, the Muslim side went to the SC to lay claim over the whole of Babri Masjid site and also the adjoining plots which cover the Ganj-e-Shaheedan (Martyrs Compound) as many of the Muslim martyrs lie buried in these graves after attaining martyrdom over the cause of Babri Masjid. Come May 9 and the two judge’s bench expressed surprise as to how the HC could divide the title among three litigants! “This is very strange and surprising. Nobody has prayed for partition of the area. The Allahabad High Court has given a new relief which was not sought by anybody,” observed the SC.

Now, for the sake of record, it becomes necessary to state the status and the ‘who’s-who’ of the appeals, as they stand today in the SC:

The first Civil Appeal No. 10866-10876 of 2010 is by Muhammed Siddiq of Jamaat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind vs. Mahant Suresh Das and others. The second is civil appeal No. 821 of 2011 by Sunni Central Waqf Board vs. Mahant Suresh Das. The third is civil appeal No. 2215 of 2011 by Misbahuddin vs. Mahant Suresh Das. The fourth is Special Leave Petition (C) No.7815-7818 of 2011 by Nirmohi Akhara vs. Rajender Singh. The fifth is Civil Appeal No.2636 by All India Hindu Mahasabha vs. Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman. The sixth is Civil Appeal No. 2894 by Muhammed Hashim vs. Mahant Suresh Das.

The seventh is Civil Appeal No. D 38217 of 2010 by Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajman vs. Rajender Singh. The eighth is Civil Appeal No. 4192 of 2011 by Sunni Central Waqf Board vs. Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajman and the ninth is Civil Appeal No. D 3828 of 2011 by All India Hindu Mahasabha vs. Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajman. The Muslim side has already filed five appeals and is likely to go ahead with four more in the various suits.

Thus primarily, all the suits which had gone to the High Court have gone for a hearing in the SC. These suits too, therefore, require a mention:

The Suit No. 1 is Regular Suit No. 2 of 1950 that is of Gopal Singh Visharad vs. Zahoor Ahmed. The Suit No. 3 is Regular Suit no. 26 of 1959 that is Nirmohi Akhara vs. Priya Dutt Ram. The Suit No. 4 is Regular Suit No. 12 of 1961 that is Sunni Central Waqf Board and others vs. Gopal Singh Visharad and others. The Suit No. 5 is Regular Suit No. 226 of 1989 that is Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman vs. Rajender Singh. The Suit No. 2 was Regular Suit No. 25 of 1950 filed by Ramchander Paramhans and was withdrawn. Rajender Singh is the son of the deceased Gopal Singh Visharad

While admitting the appeals, the SC expressed its satisfaction by observing that SC is pleased to note that there is complete unanimity on maintaining status quo and all the parties are in agreement that order may be passed for maintaining the status quo at the disputed site and the adjoining land. ‘During the pendency the parties shall maintain status quo in regard to land suit as directed by the earlier judgement and the order passed by SC in Dr. Ismail Farooqui vs. Union of India and Others 1994 case. The SC referred to paragraphs 86 and 87 of the same by citing ‘the best solution in the circumstances on revival of suits is, therefore, to maintain status-quo as on Jan 7, 1993 when the law came into force modifying the interim orders in the suit to the extent by curtailing the practice of worship by Hindus in the disputed area to that extent it stands reduced under the Act instead of conferring on them the larger right available under the court orders till intervention was made by legislation. It may be known that on Jan 7, 1993, the Congress government had passed an act in Parliament called ‘Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993’ through which 67.703 acres of land was acquired around the Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid site. The act also guaranteed the right to puja (worship) by Hindus to go on unabated and the status-quo to be maintained as on Jan 7, 1993.  

The SC further observed that the Section 7(2) of the paragraph 87 of the same case, “achieves the purpose by freezing the interim arrangement for worship by Hindu devotees reduced to this extent and curtails the larger right they enjoyed under the court orders, ensuring that it cannot be enlarged till final adjudication of the dispute and consequent transfer of the disputed area to the party found entitled to the same. This being the purpose and true effect of Section 7(2), it promotes and strengthens the commitment of the nation to secularism instead of negating it. To hold this provision as anti-secular and slanted in favour of the Hindu community would be to frustrate an attempt to thwart anti-secularism and unwittingly support the forces which were responsible for the events of 6-12-1992”.

Regarding the adjacent land, the SC further observed, “The land adjacent to the suit land which was the subject matter of acquisition by the Central Government, the parties shall maintain status quo, as directed by the order of this Court in Mohd. Aslam Bhure vs. Union of India and Others (2003), through its paragraphs 4 and 5 read with paragraph 17.

The SC further said, “In this proceeding, which is initiated as public interest petition, several reliefs were claimed but after the interested parties were impleaded and their pleading were put forth what has crystallised is as to the manner in which the adjacent land should be (sic) final decision in the title-suit pending in the High Court of Allahabad. This Court, on 13-2-2002 while issuing the rule made the following order. In paragraph 17 of the same case, it was fairly given that, ‘In the meantime we direct that on the 67.703 acres of land located in revenue plot Nos. 159 and 160 in village Kot Ramchandar which is vested with the Central Government, no religious activity of any kind by anyone either symbolic or actual including bhumi puja or shila puja, shall be permitted or allowed to take place. Furthermore, no part of the aforesaid land shall be handed over by the government to anyone and the same shall be retained by the government till the disposal of this writ petition nor shall any part of this land be permitted to be occupied or used for any religious purpose or in connection therewith’. Then, the SC took it’s order of March 14, 2002, into consideration by observing, that the aforesaid order was clarified by another order (March 14, 2002) by the same Court of some of the ambiguities, thus, it was referred anew.

The SC on May 9, after admitting the appeals, also ordered that during the pendency of the appeals, the operation of the judgement and decree by the Allahabad High Court shall remain stayed. It also called for the records of Original Suits, for the digitized version of the judgement of Sept 30, 2010. This would further include all the scanned copies of the record in various cases and also called for the translation of High Court records.

“It is a very balanced and a reasonable order. And, this vindicates our stand that the judgement of the High Court was not based on correct notions of law. When the Court will meet again, after the summer vacations, it is likely that some future date may be fixed. It is possible that the case will be decided in two years in case there is a day-to-day hearing. But, the Muslim morale is now at an all time high and there is an upward trend, particularly after it was on a low after the Sept 30, 2010 judgement, said Zafaryab Jilani-the counsel of SCWB and convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2011 on page no. 14

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