By Elton Gomes
The Supreme Court today refused to go back to its 1994 ruling that said that the government can acquire land on which a mosque is built. This decision by the Supreme Court means that Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute case can be taken up without any delay. The next hearing for the Ayodhya title case has been scheduled for October 29, the top court said, NDTV reported.
The apex court Wednesday said that the Ayodhya case will not be impacted by the 1994 verdict and that the observations in that verdict were made only in the context of the government acquiring the land on which a place of worship is built.
In 1994, the court had ruled that namaz, or prayers, can be offered anywhere and a mosque is not necessary. This ruling allowed the government to take over the land where the 16th-century Babri mosque was razed in December 1992 by kar sevaks who claimed that it was built on Lord Ram’s birthplace.
In a 2-1 judgement on Wednesday, the apex court refused to refer the decision to a larger bench for review. Reading out the verdict for himself and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan said, “All religions, all mosques and temples churches are equal. We have already noticed all religious planes are liable to be acquired as per 1994 verdict,” as per the NDTV report.
The verdict is likely to benefit the ruling BJP, which has promised its supporters that it will build a temple in Ayodhya. To appease its Hindu vote bank, the saffron party will hope for a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court before India goes to vote in 2019.
Dissenting Justice Nazeer’s views
Justice Abdul Nazeer has dissenting views on the verdict and wished that the matter should be referred to a larger bench. “What is essential to religion as laid down in [the 1994 ruling] was arrived at without comprehensive examination, needs to be re-examined in detail,” Justice Nazeer said, India Today reported.
Justice Nazeer further said that whether a mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided on the basis of religious belief and it requires comprehensive consideration. He said that the matter should be heard by a larger bench.
SC rejects Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking an urgent hearing
The Supreme Court, in July, declined urgent listing of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea, wherein he sought enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at the disputed Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The Supreme Court asked him to mention it again “later on”. A bench comprising CJI Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said, “You mention it later on,” PTI reported.
Swamy said that the term “later on” was highly subjective and that he would once again mention his plea for hearing after 15 days.
Shia Waqf Board willing to donate Muslim part of the land
The Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board told the Supreme Court in July that it wishes to settle the Ayodhya dispute peacefully and is therefore willing to donate one-third of the land to Hindus so that the Ram temple can be built.
“There was never a mosque on that site in Ayodhya and there can never be a mosque there. It is the birthplace of Lord Ram and only a Ram temple will be built. Sympathisers of Babar are destined to lose,” the Shia Waqf Board’s chairperson Waseem Rizvi said, Hindustan Times reported.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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