The judgment delivered by a five Judges Bench of the Supreme Court of India has allotted the whole of 2.77 acres of land which was under litigation for the Construction of a temple. Muslims’ claim which rested on the existence of Babri Masjid on the site which was demolished by the fascist hordes marshaled by RSS on December 6, 1992, has been dismissed. The claim of Nirmohi Akhara which rested on their managing Ram Chabutra in the outer courtyard, has also been dismissed and the claim of Ram Lalla diety has been upheld over the entire disputed land. In other words, Supreme Court bench has upheld the minority judgment delivered by Justice D.V. Sharma of Allahabad High Court.
The Supreme Court judgment is not grounded either in facts or sound principles of jurisprudence. It only meant that the Court has adjudicated on the basis of faith of a section of society. What was on trial in this case was not only 2.77 acres of land on which Babri Masjid stood, but the very rule of law and principles of secularism. It is unfortunate that Supreme Court judgment is wanting on these aspects. Supreme Court bench paid routine obeisance to secularism but could not uphold it. If democratic and secular opinion saw in the Allahabad High Court judgment concession to majoritarianism, this judgment marks wholesale surrender before it. Even while the Court observed that both Hindus and Muslims had access to the site for offering prayers, the allotment of the whole land for the construction of Ram Temple is ample evidence of this. Though the Court observed, “The Constitution does not make a distinction between the faith and belief of one religion and another.” However, it went on to do just that. One can see what happens to the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution even in theory while in practice it has been torn to shreds by those in power.
Supreme Court has revealingly asserted in the beginning itself, “This Court is tasked with the resolution of a dispute whose origins are as old as the idea of India itself” thus making idea of India co-terminus with this alleged dispute between Hindus and Muslims. This statement cannot but gladden the hearts of the communal forces which define India in terms of Hindu religion and in opposition to Islam.
The Court talked of illegal nature of placing of idols under the Central dome of the Mosque on night between December 22 and 23, 1949 and forcible prevention of Muslims from offering Namaz there and also of demolition of the Mosque on December 6, 1992, it proceeded to reward the perpetrators of these illegal acts. Court observed, “Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law.” However, Court’s direction of five acres of land to be allotted to Sunni Waqf Board outside the area (but in Ayodhya) is hardly a compensation for the illegalities committed against them. Hindu communal organizations had offered land outside the disputed area before the demolition of the Mosque in 1992. It appears in the judgment as a compensation and not as upholding of a right for which the parties had come before the Court.
This judgment rewards the perpetrators of illegal acts and favours majority community over the minority. With this judgment the trial of those accused of demolishing Babri Masjid will anyway be reduced to a formality. Supreme Court itself had dismissed the petition asking for postponement of the judgment till the conclusion of criminal trial in the case of demolition. Further, this judgment will further embolden the communal outfits in their campaign against other places of worship of Muslims including Mathura and Kashi. The law of the land had not discouraged them then and would not do so now. They would rather feel vindicated by this judgment.
The Court observed that during the Mughal period both Hindus and Muslims prayed at the site. It only showed the history of communal harmony and communities living together in that period. It is a pity that our Supreme Court could not uphold even that despite secularism enshrined in the Constitution and upheld as part of its basic structure by the Supreme Court itself. It is clear that this judgment has dealt a blow at secularism which had crystallized as one of the core values during the anti-colonial movement of the Indian people.
Form the history of the dispute it is clear that British colonial rulers had created this dispute as a part of their divide and rule policy, in particular to annex Avadh. This dispute lingered on and led to attack on the Masjid during the communal conflagration in 1934. In 1949, Hindu communal organizations including Hindu Mahasabha surreptitiously placed idols in the Mosque and the administration prevented Muslims from offering Namaz in the name of apprehension of disturbances placing locks on its gates. Then came the opening of the locks in 1986 and Shilanyas in 1989, both during Rajiv Gandhi regime. The next sordid chapter was written in 1992 when fascist hordes of RSS demolished the Mosque. All this while at least legal rights of Muslims were not extinguished. But the Supreme Court through this judgment has extinguished this very legal right. The dispute has closed with not upholding might of the right but Might is Right.
One is left wondering why Supreme Court chose to give this verdict on a Saturday that too Second Saturday and particularly the day when a historic opening of Kartarpur corridor is taking place. This event could be a good beginning of developing friendly relations with a neighbouring country. But it appears that those in power are not happy with that development as is apparent from their comments in the media. One is also left wondering why the Hindutva forces, RSS and BJP who have long been opposing judicial determination of this dispute saying that matters of the faith cannot be decided by Court of law, have been vigorously propagating that they would respect the Court verdict. This expression of faith by Hindutva forces has shaken the faith of secular democratic forces. Supreme Court’s attitude towards suppression of democratic rights in Kashmir and refusal to even entertain habeas corpus petitions has already alarmed a large number of people who had looked upto the highest Court for defense of their legal rights.
This judgment will undoubtedly embolden the Hindutva forces which are out to crush the democratic rights of the people apart from their attacks against minorities besides tribals, Dalits and women. It will be further advance the march of Hindutva fascism in the country. It is to be noted that different institutions of the state have caved into Hindutva fascism.
With this decision paving the way for construction of a temple at the site of Babri Masjid, RSS-BJP have advanced on all three points on their agenda- Abrogation of Article 370, Construction of Ram Temple and Uniform Civil Code. They have advanced on the latter by passing law of triple talaq. RSS-BJP have been using these issues to communally polarize the people to sidetrack their main issues like price rise, unemployment and growing miseries of workers and peasants which are aggravating due to the crisis deepening due to the economic policies pursued by RSS-BJP Govt. The policies of RSS-BJP Govt. are against the interests of the people, a majority of them followers of Hindu religion. The Hindutva fascism is an attack on all working people belonging to all faiths and communities. Unity of all toiling people is the bulwark against Hindutva fascism. People and people alone can fight and defeat Hindutva fascism.
November 9, 2019