The Supreme Court has concluded the hearing in the politically and religiously sensitive case of the Ram Janmbhoomi – Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya and reserved its judgment. This was the second longest proceedings in its history.
A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, granted three days to contesting parties to file written submissions for narrowing down the issues on which the court is needed to pass its judgment. The last day of the hearing witnessed high voltage theatrics when All India Hindu Mahasabha (AIHM) tried to produce a pictorial map showing the exact birthplace of Lord Rama as evidence. Rajeev Dhawan, the lawyer representing the Muslim side, said that the map could not be relied upon and asked the bench as to what he should do with the map. The bench said he can tear the documents into pieces. Dhavan then tore the pictorial map in the courtroom with the permission of the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.
The 40-day hearing hearing saw heated exchanges between the lawyers of the Hindu and Muslim sides and midway the prospect of settling the dispute through mediation once again was thought of. This is not the first time when the prospect of mediation has been discussed in the politically and religiously charged case of Ayodhya land dispute. Mediation was attempted and it failed on previous occasions.
The first mediation bid failed to find a resolution leading to the initiation of hearing from August 6. Later, the panel which comprised of FMI Kallifulla, a former apex court judge, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living Foundation, and Sriram Panchu, an acclaimed mediator, was allowed to conduct the mediation.
The Hindu parties, on the other hand, seek from the court the dismissal of the 1961 lawsuit filed by the Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim litigants, saying they could not prove that Mughal emperor Babur created a valid ‘waqf’ before the construction.
The settlement prospect comprises of the following three points:
- Implementation in letter and spirit of Places of Worship (Special Provision) Act, 1991, which prohibits conversion of any place of worship and to provide for maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This act does not apply to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
- Muslims to give up claim on the disputed 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya. The government to take up repair and restoration work of all mosques situated in Ayodhya. UP Sunni waqf board to construct a mosque at an alternative site.
- Select a few mosques under the Archaeological Survey of India management to be opened up for worship to Muslims after a court-appointed committee hears the parties and chooses the mosques to be opened for worship purposes.
While the law and order is taking its course, loudmouths and hate mongers from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are taking this opportunity to spread divisiveness in the society. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj is quoted as saying that the construction of Ram Mandir will be initiated from 6 December and Sunni Waqf Board should also accept the fact that Babar was an invader and not their ancestor. He added that the dream will come true with the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Indian media is also doing the devil’s work of spreading hatred among the masses even before the judgment is finalized. Hate-mongering will only disrupt the communal harmony of the nation and disrupt the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb India takes pride on. It is essential to let law take its course and maintain peace in the meanwhile that the Supreme Court has reserved its judgment.