The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to refer to a five-judge constitutional bench a plea relating to the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute. The apex court, in a majority 2:1 judgment, held that its 1994 judgement in the Dr M Ismail Faruqui versus Union of India case, which said that a mosque was not integral to Islam, need not be revisited.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Abdul Nazeer and Ashok Bhushan said that the civil suit (Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute) has to be decided on the basis of evidence, and the previous verdict has no relevance.
BJP expresses hope for early verdict
A report from The Times of India suggests that by emphasising that the appeals had been pending for long, the court's order has generated optimism in the BJP. Particularly, it created hope for expeditious hearings once they commence in October — a timetable that happens to align with the BJP's campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
It is no surprise then, that the BJP welcomed the Supreme Court's order, hoping that it will pave the way for an early final verdict on the contentious issue. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Aditynath said a majority of people want a solution to the case at the earliest as he welcomed the verdict, and expressed hope that a final verdict will be delivered quickly.
In a veiled attack on Muslim organisations which urged the apex court to send the matter to the five-judge bench — a plea that the court rejected — the Hindutva leader said some people wanted to delay the final verdict, and the sooner it comes the better it will be. "Today's verdict is very important. We welcome it," he told reporters.
Union minister Uma Bharti also welcomed the judgment. “I have said it at the outset that it is not a matter of dispute between two faiths. For Hindus, it is the birthplace of Lord Rama. It is not an important historical or religious place for Muslims,” she was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy lauded the move as well:
राम लला हम आएंगे , मंदिर हमी बनाएंगे.
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) September 28, 2018
DNA quoted former BJP Member of Parliament Vinay Katiyar saying that the Ram temple would be built before next year. "The fight is over 80/40 square feet of land. I hope we will be victorious in the title suit," he was quoted as saying. The BJP's ideological parent RSS also welcomed the order.
"Today, the Supreme Court has decided to hold hearing the... case from 29 October by a three-member bench. We welcome this decision and are confident that a just verdict will be reached over the case at the earliest," the RSS said in a statement. Its chief Mohan Bhagwat had recently said that a Ram temple should be built at the earliest.
AIMPLB expresses relief that matter will be heard as title suit
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Zafaryab Jilani was quoted as saying by DNA that they honour the court order and see some positive movement regarding the Ayodhya case.
"Two positive things have come from this verdict. First, the Ayodhya matter will not be heard on the basis of faith and will be heard as a title suit. Second, the 1994 observation by the court will not make an impact on the case," he said.
He also hoped that the final hearing of the Ayodhya case will be completed soon.
Muslim parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute welcomed the verdict, saying it "is in our favour".
Khaliq Ahmad Khan, the nominee of one of the litigants in the title suit, said, "The other side always quoted the 1994 judgment that mosque is not an integral part of Islam. Now the court has made it clear that the 1994 judgement was related to the land acquisition... and that it has no connection with the title suit. We have achieved our goal as the Supreme Court will hear only the title suit."
Congress proceeds with caution
Much unlike the BJP's brazen response, the Congress was cautious in its reply to the issue. While there was no response from the Congress via party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala or from party chief Rahul Gandhi himself, a few party leaders stressed that all sides should abide by the Supreme Court judgment on the issue.
The party, however, according to some reports trained its guns on BJP for misusing the court's verdict.
A report from The Times of India claimed that Congress sources denied the idea that the case would play out to the BJP's electoral timetable, suggesting that the battle over ownership was complicated which would take time. According to the report, sources have accused the BJP of using the court order to whip up passions.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja was of the same opinion, saying that some parties have been trying to gain political advantage from the Ayodhya issue ahead of the general election. He asked people not to fall "into the trap".
As per a report from The Indian Express, AICC communication department convenor Priyanka Chaturvedi also accused the BJP of conspiring for the last 30 years to mislead people on the Ram Temple issue.
She added that while the BJP garners votes in the name of Ram Temple, it sends Lord Ram "to exile" the moment it comes to power.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi told The Indian Express that the “(Ismail) Faruqui judgment was delivered 24 years ago. Faruqui has therefore held the field for 24 years. Good, bad or indifferent, it has been the law for 24 years. All that today’s judgment has decided is that there is no need to revisit Faruqui (verdict),” he said.
“If Faruqui (judgment) has not disturbed the Ayodhya issue for 24 years, why should a simple decision not to revisit it lead to so much hullabaloo?” he asked.
“Moreover, Faruqui (case) was limited to the issue of acquisition of land on which the mosque stands. It was not concerned with the title dispute regarding Ayodhya." Singhvi also took to Twitter to respond to the ruling, saying that:
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Sep 28, 2018 14:21 PM