Insights into Editorial: Peace and justice: On Ayodhya verdict
In a unanimous judgment, a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the Centre, which had acquired the entire 67.73 acres of land including the 2.77 acre of the disputed Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid premises in 1993, to formulate a scheme within three months and set up a trust to manage the property and construct a temple.
For the time being, the possession of the disputed property would continue to vest with the Centre until a notification is issued by it investing the property in the trust.
Supreme Court called upon to abide by the places of Worship Special Provision Act, 1991, which forbids the conversion of any other place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.
It also invoked the Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act, 1993 to direct the Centre to create a trust to oversee temple construction.
Site Excavation by ASI on orders by Allahabad High Court:
About 15 years ago, the Archaeological Survey of India excavated the disputed land in Ayodhya following the orders of the Allahabad High Court.
The Supreme Court said the underlying structure below the disputed site in Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.
The underlying structure found was scientifically tested by the ASI team. After this, it was claimed that there were remains of an ancient Hindu temple under the disputed structure.
The Hindu also side argued that there were carvings of deities, Hindu religious symbols on stone pillars under the disputed site.
The ASI findings Supreme Court spoke about in its judgment:
- The Supreme Court order recognised the deity Ram Lalla’s title rights to the disputed 2.77-acre Ayodhya land and directed the government that a trust be set up to manage the land’s affairs, paving the path for the construction of a Ram temple.
- The Supreme Court has directed that the Sunni Waqf Board be given a five acres of land in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.
- In its judgment, the Supreme Court referred to an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report to observe that the Babri Masjid, which stood on the disputed site until its demolition in 1992, was not built on vacant land and that there was evidence of a temple-like structure having existed on the land before the mosque was built.
- Reading the “unanimous” judgment on the Ayodhya title suit in a packed courtroom, CJI Ranjan Gogoi there is clear evidence that Hindus believe Lord Ram was born at the disputed site. “Babri Masjid was not constructed on vacant land.
- There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.
- The Supreme Court said the demolition of the Babri Masjid was a violation of law and order.
- The court said that ownership cannot be given on the basis of faith and trust. Reading the judgment, the Supreme Court said that the Babri Masjid was not built on empty land.
- Considering the ASI report valid, the Supreme Court said what was found in the excavation “was not an Islamic structure”.
Why critics of majoritarianism on the Ayodhya verdict are wrong:
Critics of the verdict have argued that the Supreme Court has relied on “faith instead of law and reason” and that the judgment has “sided with majoritarianism”. Both assertions are wrong.
- Giving 5 acres plot of land is more of moral consolation by way of political compromise and less of adjudication.
- There is majoritarian edge in its ruling and the high-minded secular rhetoric of the judgment is lost somewhere.
- The Supreme Court has chosen the path most conducive to social harmony, than adjudication.
- In the judgment Hindu occurs 1,062 times, Muslim appears 549 times and Citizen occurs a mere 14 times.
- Hence, intermediary loyalties between the Citizen and State are proved once again through this judgment.
- The citizens thought process in terms of communities and never in terms of citizens, was in fact strengthened through the judgment.
For a case replete with references to archaeological foundations, we must remember that it is the law which provides the edifice upon which our multicultural society rests.
At the heart of the Constitution is a commitment to equality upheld and enforced by the rule of law.
Under our Constitution, citizens of all faiths, beliefs and creeds seeking divine provenance are both subject to the law and equality before the law.
The Constitution does not make a distinction between the faith and belief of one religion and another. All forms of belief, worship and prayer are equal.
“Faith and belief cannot be the basis of a judgment; only evidence can be” is one such.
But there is enough evidence that having made several such laudable pronouncements, the verdict defied these and decided in favour of faith and belief.
The Ayodhya judgment did result in a victory for the majority and coincidentally for the mob that demolished the Babri Masjid, but a reading of the judgment clearly shows disapproval and disavowal of the mob.
The legal victory is based upon secular principles. This has to be the projected as the victory of secularism.