The Ayodhya verdict is out. People are interpreting it according to their positions. A one thousand page verdict will have many point and perhaps would be useful for the scholars as a research material. There are things which make verdict the best possible solution in todays vitiated political climate. It is unambiguous that the court has been unanimous in ‘respecting’ the ‘sentiments’ of Hindus. While it suggested that it would put facts over faith yet reading the judgment and listening to the justification of various points, I would suggest it is a ‘settlement’ of a case and not really a ‘judgment’ which really uphold the sanctity of the law and our secular constitution.
The verdict did not even take into consideration the Buddhist claims despite the known fact that Ayodhya is saket in many old texts and that circuit from Shravasti to Sarnath-Kushinagar till Lumbini is termed as Buddhist circuit.
We know that the popular opinion too influence judges and they knew it well that this judgment cant be delivered purely on ‘technicality’ and that was the reason why the court wanted mediation. They knew it well that the situation would go out of hand if the Hindu parties lose the case and they wanted to ensure that Muslims should not be seen as ‘losing’ party and that is why while granting whole write of 2.77 acres of disputed land to Hindus, the court also asked the government to allot five acres of land to Muslims to construct a mosque.
Muslim party is rightly aggrieved because the judgment is not really based on supremacy of law otherwise the courts would have stood strongly against the demolition of the Babari Mosque. They made important observations regarding the same. That idols Ram Lalla were surreptitiously placed inside the mosque in November 1948 and then the demolition of the Babari Mosque on December 6th, 1992, were against the rule of the law and illegal.
Indian constitution is secular but the nature of Indian state remained brahmanical to say the least. It has not happened all of a sudden. The continuous failure of the secular politicians and politics has helped the Hindutva to get legitimized and courts cant be uninfluenced and unaffected with the political climate of the country. We need not to discuss things here but a chronology of events and court’s responses on many of the issues concerning civil liberty and human rights are a matter of grave concern. In wake of the Ayodhya judgment, the court actually did not hear many important petitions during the last two months.
It is a fact that such cases of faith are difficult to evaluate when the dispute is over centuries. Frankly speaking court’s are not here to decide where a God is born. It is the faith and judges being human being realize the great responsibility on them. As a nation, we have not yet matured to accept any kind of verdict. The court verdict prove that India, though is constitutionally a secular nation yet it is defecto a Hindu state and sentiments of Hindus mattered more in this judgment. There is no doubt that courts observations are important and they have tried to analyse things in a very balanced way yet the judgment fall short of many things.
I am sure Muslims as well as secular progressive liberal people would not have any issue with respecting the ‘sentiments’ of Hindus who consider Ayodhya as birth place of Lord Rama but the disturbing thing is that while accepting that the incidents of putting the idols of Rama Lalla in the mosque as well as razing of the Babari Masjid in 1992 was ‘an egregious violation of the rule of law”, very little is being done to punish the guilty of these two crimes.
L K Advani, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh; VHP leaders Ashok Singhal (deceased), Giriraj Kishore (deceased), Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Champat Rai Bansal; Shiv Sena leaders Bal Thackeray (deceased) and Moreshwar Save (deceased) are the main accused in the Babari Masjid demolition case along with many other BJP leaders as well as so called Car Sevaks who were present there and participated in the demolition of the historic mosque. 27 years have passed since the demolition of the mosque and CBI has not been able to do anything credible in the case.
The political fortune of all the accused had grown disproportionately after the demolition of Babari Masjid and BJP tasted powers not only in various states but at the center also. It is important for the Courts to assert their power in such cases and direct for a time bound trial. Supreme Court must ask the government what has happened on the trial and why is CBI unable to expedite the case ?
The court’s silence and merely passing reference does not do any justice to this. If the court were speaking on the entire issue of Ayodhya dispute and then it is important for them to speak up categorically that the perpetrators of the Babari Demolition have not done anything ‘heroic’ but attacked on the constitution of India and must be severely punished so that none can do such cowardly act in future.
We must not forget the fact that after the demolition of the Babari Masjid, the then Prime Minister P V Narsihmarao promised the country that the masjid would be built at the same place. It was not a party promise but a promise made by the government. When the court is asking the government to expedite the temple building process, which means asking the government to build the temple, which in any secular society is not desirable then why nobody reminded them that there is a solemn promise of a government to build the Babari masjid. Though the court asked the government to provide the Sunni Waqqf Board five acres of land to build a mosque, it remained silent on the government’s promise to the nation that Narsimharao made. If the temple is to be constructed at exchequer’s money then why not the mosque which was promised by the government.
The third vital question is about future of such conflicts. Will the Ayodhya conflict end all other conflict or will it open up windows for more places. Will the court become adjudicator of the ‘birth’ places of various mythological gods. Should the court be doing this which is not their domain area ? We have thousands of mythological issues and every stone in our country has a mythological value, not necessarily historical. The Hindutva groups are not going to sit silently because now with this massive power, they will keep the pot boiling. The popular slogan that ‘mandir wahi banayenge, lekin taarikh nahi bataayenge’ can not be used as Supreme Court has ordered the process of temple construction. It means that next elections of Uttar Pradesh, temple remain the major issue. Though the court has categorically said that law and order and peace are important for the construction of Ram Temple, they failed to assure the nation that this was a very special case and in future, they would warn any citizen or political goons to take law unto his hand and demolish the place of worship of any community. History cannot be undone. If Babar had demolished a mandir and built up a mosque, which was highly unlikely, then the answer is not to correct this ‘wrong’ by demolishing the masjid and making the mandir at the same place. Will the slogan, ‘ abhi to ye bas jhaanki hai, kashi, Mathura baaki hai’, ( this is just a trailer, the issues of Kashi and Mathura will be settled later) disappear now ? My opinion is that the Supreme Court should have spoken categorically that it will not allow such frivolous and disruptive activities in the name of ‘history’ and ‘sentiments’.
Whatever the verdict is and people are deliberating on it purely on legal basis, the responses from the Muslim community as well as common Hindus is a welcome step. If the building of Ram Temple help us resolve the bitterness between Hindus and Muslim, then we should welcome it. Fact is that attempt were made for a out of court settlement though the court appointed committee could not reach to a conclusion. The fact is the language of the judgment is balance which does not target the Hindus in harsh word though condemn the act of vandalism, at the same point of time assure Muslims their place in the country and equal treatment as per the constitution of India.
Response of political parties is as usual. They all took shelter in the garb of ‘matter’ being subjudice. Now the matter is ‘resolved’, the political parties including the Hindutva forces should now focus on issues confronting the nation. It would be good if the court appoint a committee to monitor the process and not allow political parties to use it for their ulterior political motives. Now as the judgment has come, parties might seek review of it, but if the court has to do anything, I hope they must not allow attempt to use such toxic and vitiated campaign to vilify the minorities particularly Muslims who have been at the receiving end. We know, this case had gone into such a situation that it would not have satisfied all the parties. The best part is that the court must ensure that no future incident like this should happen again. Demolishing the place of worship of any religion needs not mere condemnation but also strong action against the perpetrators of the crime. It is in this context that we hope the criminals of the Babari demolition would be booked and brought to justice. Supreme Court has a duty to ensure that this task is done in a time bound manner as they did in the case. Let the court not allow this verdict to be misused by the same forces who demolished Babari Masjid, at the other places. The court has reemphaised on constitutional values particularly its secular character and it is important now that while faith is important, the constitution also mandate us including courts, to strengthen scientific thinking, critical inquiry and humanism in our people. All this will remain a pipedream if the religious rights dictate terms and conditions to us and all institutions buckle under their combine assault.
This judgment has numerous important observations by the courts and we hope, it will be useful in strengthening our resolve for a secular, plural and liberal society. India need to move ahead now, learning its lessons from the failure to protect the constitution and should not allow such things to happen again which may endanger our social fabric and rule of law. Let the legal people understand the entire verdict reading its judgment carefully and take the necessary action. If the court hear anything in this matter, it must ensure that perpetrators of the violence and criminal assault on Babari Masjid should be prosecuted as soon as possible and for that the courts would do well, to monitor the CBI court’s proceeding and direct it for necessary action. A failure on that account will make this verdict incomplete and strengthen the perpetrators of the crime who are eyeing the other such projects and are in a celebratory mode. The Court must warn them and act.