This article is written by Harshada Gupta, a student of Rajarshi Shahu College of Law, Mumbai.
“A Conflict between 2 Major Religions prevailing since 500 years”
‘Ayodhya’, a Sanskrit word, means ‘not to be fought’. What an irony! Ayodhya, which means not a place of conflict, became a point of conflict. A conflict between Hindu & Muslim, a conflict for ownership rights & title and a conflict for God which resulted in fear among the innocent hearts!
Keeping the emotion & faith aside, this paper states the facts related to the 2nd longest case in the history of Supreme Court, its 500 years of history, its judgement, scrutinizing its facts, its evidences, aftermath, what religion says, whether to choose Hinduism or Secularism and believe in Rule of law!
The Case Description
Case: ‘M. Siddiq Thr. Lrs v. Mahant Suresh Das & ors’ Dispute’
The Judges: Honourable CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Honourable CJI Designate Sharad Bobde, Honourable Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Honourable Justice Ashok Bhushan and Honourable Justice S Abdul Nazeer.
Main petitioners: M. Siddiq, Maulana Assad Rashidi, Sunni Waqf Board, Shia Waqf Board.
Main respondents: Mahant Suresh Das, Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lalla Virajman, All India Hindu Mahasabha, All India Sanatan Dharam Sabha.
Petitioner’s lawyers: Rajeev Dhavan & Raju Ramchandran.
Respondent’s lawyers: Tushar Mehta, Subramaniam Swamy, CS Vaidyanathan, Ranjit Kumar, K Parasaran & Harish Salve.
The Chronicles of Ayodhya Dispute
The chronicles of Ayodhya dispute began from:
5th Century BC
- The Epic Ramayana, written by Valmiki, states that Ayodhya is a birthplace of Lord Rama.
- In 1528, Babri Mosque was built by Commander of Babur, Mir Baqi.
- As per the sayings of the Hindus residing in that area, Mir Baqi destroyed an antecedent Rama temple to build the mosque.
- What becomes a matter of controversy here is, whether a Rama temple existed on that land or not?
III. 19th Century
- In 1853, riots resulted from local people’s belief that the mosque was built after demolishing the Rama temple.
- In 1855, there were clashes witnessed between the Sunni Muslims and the Bairais over the Hanumangarhi temple.
- In 1858, Mohd Salim lodged an FIR on Nihaang Sikhs for writing Rama, performing havans and constructing chabutra inside the mosque.
- In 1859, the British official surrounds the site by building wall to avoid conflict between the Hindus & Muslims.
- In 1877, on the northern side of the outer courtyard, the British administration opened another door for the Hindus to manage and control.
- In 1885 & 1886, Mahanta Raghubir Das filed first civil suit & twice civil appeals, in the Faizabad Court, seeking permission to construct a temple outside the mosque. However, they were dismissed.
- In 1934, riot again occurred between Hindus & Muslims; Hindus demolished a part of mosque, which was later rebuilt by the British Government.
- In 1938-47, the Sunni Waqf Board and the Shia Waqf Board tried each other’s claims on the Babri Mosque. The local court gave judgement in the favour of the Sunni Waqf Board.
- In 1949, the Panches of Nirmohi Akhara executed a deed containing the customs of Akhara; Rama’s idol was found inside the mosque; Muslims alleged that it was kept by Hindus; FIRs were filed and gates of the mosque were locked; Section 145 of the CRPC was invoked; and K.K. Nayyer, the district magistrate, repudiated to remove the idol.
- In the same year, the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru air his concern by sending a telegram to Govind Ballabh Pant, the then CM of the United Province, about the situations in Ayodhya.
- In 1950, Nagar Mahapalika President Priya Datt Ram took charge of the entire land; Gopal Singh Visharad of Hindu Mahasabha filed 1stsuit of ‘right to worship’ for Hindus; Paramhans Ramchandra Das filed 2nd suit similar to the first; and Hasim Ansari also filed a petition seeking permission to have namaaz; all in Faizabad Court.
- In 1959, Nirmohi Akhara filed 3 suit seeking possession over the area.
- In 1961, Sunni Waqf Board filed 4 suit for removal of idol, possession over the mosque, and the right to pray inside the mosque.
- In 1963, Hindu Mahasabha, Arya Samaj & Sanatan Dharma Sabha allied to represent the Hindu Community.
- In 1964, M.S. Gowalkar and S.S. Apte formed Vishwa Hindu Parishad to protect the interests of the Hindus.
- In 1980, the Janata Party was dissolved and a new Bharatiya Janata Party was formed.
- In 1983, a nationwide movement for construction of Rama temple was started by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
- In 1984, all Hindu groups formed a committee to lead the construction of the Rama Temple. The BJP leader, L.K. Advani led the Rama Janmabhoomi movement which became shot in the arm.
- In the same year, on 25th
September, a Shriram Janaki Rath Yatra took out from Bihar to Delhi, which demanded the construction of Rama Temple in Ayodhya.
- In 1986, Umesh Chandra filed an application seeking permission to open the doors of the inner courtyard and public allowance for visit; the Faizabad Court allowed to open the gates of the mosque and also allowed the Hindus to worship in the place; Muslims formed ‘Babri Masjid Action Committee’ against this decision.
- In 1989, Ram Lalla Virajman filed 5th suit for ownership right & possession over the area; the Allahabad High Court transferred the suits to Division Bench; Vishwa Hindu Parishad laid the foundation of Rama temple at Babri Mosque’s adjacent land. • In 1990, Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya was led by the then BJP President Lal Krishna Advani, who was later arrested.
- In 1991, BJP comes under power; CM Kalyan Singh acquires the disputed land under sections 4(1), 6 and 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894; Writ petitions were filed against this decision; the acquisition was later denied.
- In 1992, nearly 2,00,000 karsevaks of VHP & BJP demolished Babri Mosque; Communal riots occurred across India; the Central Government appointed Liberhan Commission to investigate into the matter; 49 FIRs were lodged against various karsevaks and against several BJP leaders.
- Later, Hari Shankar Jain filed a petition of ‘right to worship’ for Hindus in Lucknow bench.
- In the same year, there was Narasimha Rao’s Congress Government at the Centre. The proposal of this Government was to construct a Rama temple, a Mosque, a Library, a Museum and other facilities to be provided at the disputed land of the Ayodhya. But, this was strongly opposed by BJP Government.
- In 1993, Allahabad High Court held that Hindu have right to worship at the birthplace of Lord Rama; the Central Government issued order for acquisition of the disputed land & areas around it; Mohd Ismail Farooqi filed a writ petition against this decision. • In 1994, Supreme Court held that Babri Mosque was not an integral part to Islam.
- In 2002, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee started ‘Ayodhya Vibhaag’. The objective of the Vibhaag was resolution between Hindus & Muslims by talks; Allahabad High Court constituted Division Bench having: Justice Sudhir Agrawal, Justice S.U. Khan & Justice D.V. Sharma, to begin hearing on determining the ownership of the land.
- In the same year, Allahabad High Court ordered Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to investigate the disputed land.
- In 2003, ASI submitted the report stating that the evidences of Hindu artefacts and a massive structure were found, which they claimed to be of 12th disputed land.
- In 2009, the Liberhan Commission submitted its report on Babri Mosque demolition. The report was submitted after 17 years. The commission was headed by retired judge of Andhra Pradesh, M.S. Liberhan. According to the report, the main suspects for instigating the karsevaks for demolishing the Babri mosque, with such words, “ek dhakka aur do, masjid ko tod do”, were Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati, Balasaheb Thackeray, Vinay Katiyar, Ashok Singhal and many others. There were separate criminal cases pending against each one of them. The commission interrogated them all. 100s of witnesses were examined. The mob stated that they did not know what was right or wrong, but blamed the State Government for inciting them. The commission advanced that the political agenda of forming the Government on the basis of religion should be totally ‘barred’ as it becomes a negative aspect in our democratic nation.
- In 2010, the Division Bench gave it’s judgement, divided the land into 3 parts, first part called Rama Murti was given to Ram Lalla Virajman, second part called Sita Rasoi, Bhandara and Ram Chabutra to Nirmohi Akhara and remaining third part to Sunni Waqf Board; all the parties appealed in the Supreme Court against this decision.
- In 2011, Justice Aftab Alam & Justice R.M. Lodha of the Supreme Court stayed the judgement and directed to maintain the status quo.
- In 2016, Subramaniam Swamy filed a case in the Supreme Court for the construction of Rama temple.
- In 2017, J.S. Khehar advised to solve the dispute by discussion between both the parties. Till the end of this year, total of 32 appeals were filed in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court judgement. Supreme Court said that the hearing on this case will begin in 2019.
- In 2019, the 5 Judge Bench was constituted having: Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Sharad Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer; The Supreme Court appointed the mediation panel to settle the dispute, having: Justice F.M. Kalifullah, Venkatratnam Ravishankar Ramanayakanpet and Mr. Sriram Panchu, however the mediation failed; After this, a 40 days of hearing goes in the Supreme Court; After the hearing, the Supreme Court orders both the parties to submit ‘moulding of reliefs’ in 3 days; Moulding of Reliefs means if the court gives a judgement in favour of one party than the other party has an option of moulding of relief, i.e., an alternate demand against the actual demand; The arguments of all the parties were recorded. The Supreme Court invoked Article 142 of the Constitution.
- On 9th November, 2019 the Supreme Court declared the final judgement.
Scrutinizing the Facts
The Supreme Court enumerated on several possible interpretations under the judgement such as on:
- Legal personality
- Juristic identity of idol
- Proprietary rights endowed in idol
- Written submission filed in an appeal
- Continuing the wrong within the meaning of Section 23 of the Limitation Act, 1908 • Shebait
- Section 11 of the CPC, 1908
- Order XXVI of CPC
- Judicial discretion
- Evidentiary value of Historical Texts and Official Gazettes
- Custodia legis
- Historical wrongs
- Doctrine of Lost Grant
- Section 110 of Evidence Act, 1872
- Adjudication of title
- Order VII Rule 7
- Article 142
- Justice, equity, good conscience, religion, faith, and belief; in brief.
The evidentiary record emerges to be as:
- The belief & faith of Hindus about the Lord Rama’s janmasthaan from the scriptures and sacred religious books like ‘Valmiki Ramayana’ & ‘Skanda Purana’ cannot be held baseless;
- Being a mosque over the disputed land, Hindus were never denied from worshipping into it;
- The Hindus, who have been continued worshipping, were in exclusive and unrestricted possession of the outer courtyard;
- The inner courtyard was the conflicting site where Hindus & Muslims both claimed;
• The stay on the Muslims for performing their namaz in their 400 years old mosque was unsustainable, which deprived them from their right to worship and the act of demolishing historic monument was a heinous crime & violation of law;
• Both, ASI’s report & Liberhan Commission’s report were kept in mind;
• As the Sunni Waqf Board failed to meet the requirements of ‘adverse possession’ they could not establish an alternate plea of adverse possession;
- The Hindus clearly established possessory title by virtue of continued worshipping and other objects of religious concernment.
The Supreme Court while giving the judgement kept in mind the right facts, history, evidences, people’s belief and the most important ‘its impact.’ The Court made its judgement not on the basis of the arguments made by both the parties, but on the legal principles and the evidences.
The Court commented on the judgement given by the Allahabad High Court that the decision of dividing the disputed land into 3 parts was unsupportable and was wholly a wrong relief which was never demanded by all the parties.
The Final Judgement was ideal. It says that the 2.77 acres of the disputed land should be handed to the Central Government, which will appoint a trust to construct Lord Rama’s temple. It also provided an alternate 5 acres of land to Muslims for the construction of Mosque. The allotment of land to the Muslims was necessary as they were dispossessed after the destruction of their mosque. Lastly, the Court rejected the claim of Shia Waqf Board and dismissed 18 petitions seeking review of the judgement.
On 5th August, 2020 Sriram Janmabhoomi Tirth Kshetra Trust initiated ‘bhoomi poojan’ and PM Narendra Modi laid the silver stone for the foundation of Rama Temple in Ayodhya.
The aftermath of Ayodhya dispute has been appalling since last 450 years. Various riots occurred between Hindus & Muslims killing 1000s & 1000s of people like, train attack in Gujarat killing 100s of Hindus, following the Gujarat riot killing 1000s of Muslims, serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, and Lashkar-e-taiba terrorist attack in Ayodhya.
On the day of the final judgement, whole nation was on a high alert, security forces were deployed, tight security was thrown, Ayodhya was fortified, internet services were suspended; workplaces, educational institutions, etc., declared holidays; political parties were in a hurry to welcome the judgement and many more. But, withal to this, every common man hoped & prayed for peace!
After the judgement was declared, the Hindus were seen celebrating, but the Muslims hoped that the Ayodhya would remain peaceful. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “We welcome the court verdict on the Ayodhya issue, it should not be seen as anybody’s victory or loss. We should forget disputes of past and work together to build Rama Temple.” Contrary to this, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, “We are not satisfied with the verdict. The Supreme Court is indeed supreme but not infallible. We have full faith in the constitution, we were fighting for our rights, and we don’t need a 5 acre land donation. We should reject this 5 acre land offer. Don’t patronize us.”
On the day of shillanyas ceremony, both Indian Hindus & Hindus abroad were seen celebrating the day. The street of Times Square, New York, was full of celebration with Hindus, saints, and various other people beating dholaks, singing bhajans, dancing, distributing sweets, raising slogans and vocally supporting after an electronic billboard screened the image of “Lord Rama’s Temple Construction begins.” Contrary to this, another billboard advertised in protest, “Kashmiri Lives Matter” & “Kashmir siege day”. Connectively, a mobile van ran advertising with conflict provoking statement, “once stood this beautiful mosque in India which was demolished by Hindu extremists.”
5 days after the ceremony of shillanyas, what we saw was a derogatory Facebook post by MLA’s nephew on Prophet Mohammed, which raised violence in a part of Bangalore, where young Muslims were seen throwing stone at the MLA’s house, vandalizing public property, beating police and injuring journalists.
What Religion Says!
Those people who have been fighting in the name of religion, does not even know what their religion says!
For Muslims, ‘Quran’ is their holy book. On Paragraph 26, Surah 50, Verse 16, God says Walaqad Khalaqna al-insana wanaAAlamu ma tuwaswisu
Bihi nafsuhu wanahnu aqrabuilayhi min habli alwareed
It says, “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.”
If God knows what we whisper inside our souls than He can ultimately listen to our prayers; so why do we need mosques with loudspeakers announcing namaaz?
For Hindus, ‘Shrimad Bhagwad Gita’ is their holy book. In Chapter 15, Verse 15, God says सवर्स चाहं��द सि�िव�ो म�ः स्मृितज्ञार्नमपच।
वेदै�च सव�रहमेव वे�ो वेदान्तकृेदिवदे चाहम्।।
It says, “I am seated in the hearts of all living beings, and from Me come memory, knowledge as well as forgetfulness. I alone am to be known by all the Vedas, am the author of the Vedanta and the knower of the meaning of the Vedas”.
If God lives in our heart than why do we search him in temples or idols? Hinduism or Secularism?
Religion has become one of the biggest issues in today’s politics, as these present political parties are closely associated with religious groups possessing religious ideology. These political parties with religious ideology exploit religious issues & sentiments to grab political power leading to division of society.
In order to get votes, these political parties create conspiracies in which common people like us get caught in their talks. The proof of which is the winning of BJP in Uttar Pradesh state election in 1991 and in 1992, influenced by the speeches of BJP, associated with RSS and various other Hindu groups with Hindutva as an ideology, karsevaks demolished the Babri mosque.
Since 2014, the BJP vigilantism under the name of Hindutva has been manifesting through several acts such as, targeting Muslims for love jihad and then Hindus introducing ghar wapsi movement which aims to convert Muslims and Christians back to Hindu. Gau Raksha Dal, the so called new Bajrang Dal, burning the trucks carrying cows and heinously beating & killing Muslims in the name of cow protection movement. The most iconic was renaming the city from Islamic name ‘Allahabad’ into Hindu name ‘Prayagraj.’ This seems to be the ‘obliteration’ of Muslims and their exponents, and becomes prejudicial for the humanity.
The one who fights for Rama or talk about building Rama Rajya under the agenda of Hindutva, does not even know what qualities does Rama possessed as a King and what Rama Rajya is? Rama is an icon of peace, stability, balance & justice. He manifested the true qualities which were necessary to built great civilization. Rama Rajya means a just and a fair state for everyone who lives in this nation! Our Father of Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, went on referring to have ‘Rama Rajya’ in India.
One of the reason behind calling India as ‘Incredible’ is “6 Religions living together in One Nation.” But, what is the reason behind communalism? The Political parties! Who plays the British game called ‘divide & rule’ just to get votes (in the name of religion) win election, come in power and fulfil their religious agenda!
It’s high time to bring secularism in real sense. Nehru believed in secularism. His view on secularism was, “We talk about a secular state in India. It is perhaps not very easy even to find a good word in Hindi for ‘secular.’ Some people think it means something opposed to religion. That obviously is not correct. What it means is that it is a state which honours all faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities.”
Nehru felt that communalism is the biggest enemy for our nation’s integrity. When Nathuram Godse, an RSS activist, killed Gandhi, Nehru felt that secularism is the key to save the nation from communal tension. Later, through 42nd added in the Preamble of our Constitution. Amendment Act, 1976 the word ‘secular’ was Secularism means the State including Government, governmental institution, organisations, education, etc., must not get influenced by religion. In simple terms, total separation of religion and state. In this case, ‘S.R. Bommoi v. Union of India’ the Supreme Court said that the word secular or secularism under the Constitution does not mean an atheist community. It means a heterogeneous community issuing equal status to all religious people without any favouring and discrimination.
In order to follow secularism in its truest form, the Indians have to stop the involvement of religion into politics. It is impossible for us to divorce religion from our lives, totally! But, we can try to limit its involvement in certain areas.
Believe in ‘Rule of Law’
Human is full of paradoxes & governed by belief, faith, biases, choices, etc., but one must not forget to continue to believe in ‘Rule of Law.’ Judiciary is the one which can defend secularism. The Supreme Court is the most important institution in such situations.
In the case of Ayodhya, from Faizabad Court to Allahabad High Court, both the courts since years, continued in examining all the arguments, claims, petitions of both Hindus & Muslims claiming their right or title on the disputed land.
The one man investigation commission appointed by the then PM Manmohan Singh called as Liberhan Commission took 17 years to complete its investigation and submit its report with regards to the demolition of the Babri mosque, held that behind this heinous act there was the hand of Hindu Nationalist Parties. Today, however the judgement has yet not arrived on this issue, as it is political sensitive.
The continuous 40 days of hearing without any day off by the Supreme Court Judges was one of the biggest hearings in the history of Judiciary which proved to be successful, ending the 450 years of dispute.
Sometimes a lower court may give decision in favour of the majority religion, which one can see in the ‘Mohsin Shaikh Case’, where this Muslim boy was killed by the Hindu Activists and the High Court held the accused free, but the Supreme Court overruled the judgement and requested the High Court judges to be totally conscious while dealing with communal cases. The Supreme Court always keeps on teaching the fundamentals of secular principles to the lower courts.
Thus, the Supreme Court remains the only honest institution for secularism. As also in the case of Ayodhya Dispute, the Supreme Court keeping in mind every evidences, history and legal principles gave an ideal judgement.
No matter what the judgement was given, but today what matters is what we learnt from the past experiences!
The years old conflict between 2 major religions of our nation ‘Hindus & Muslims’ had to be stopped. We must end the communal tension by ensuring that such atrocities never happen again and move ahead for future without looking back in past.
One must be conscious before getting influenced by the religious leader’s conflict provoking speeches. One must not blindly follow religious leaders. What religion says and what religious leaders says, totally differs.
Evenly, we must not create any hostility or hatred between religions. Before commenting derogatory words on others God, think what if that is said for your God! The Indian Constitution, under Articles 25, 26, 27, and 28 gives its citizens ‘Right to Freedom of Religion’. But, it does not give us any right to disrespect or to create detestation for any other religion.
An American priest ‘John A. Hardon’ said about Hinduism that the most exceptional feature of the present Hinduism is, its creation of a non-hindu state, in which all religions are equal. But, presently the Government in power which brands Hindu nationalism is called in question for the country’s commitment to diversity through secularism.
To save the future one must adopt secularism and learn to believe in “Sarvadharma Samabhaav” & “Sarvadharma Sadabhaav”.
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