By Ram Puniyani
After a long wait, Supreme Court Chief Justice J.S. Khehar opined that the long pending Babri Masjid dispute should be settled out of court. He even offered to mediate in the matter himself. Most of the spokespersons from the RSS Combine welcomed the move, while a large number of Muslims and other elements have been surprised as the Court had been approached for justice and not to reach a compromise.
A historical backdrop of the case
Historically, the dispute first surfaced in court 1950 when Gopal Simla Visharad filed the first suit in the Faizabad Civil Court for rights to perform rituals in front of Ram Lalla (Shri Ram as a child). Nirmohi Akhara filed another suit in 1959 to hand over the charge of the disputed site. The U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board filed the fourth suit in 1961 for possession of the site. The fifth was in 1989 in the name of Ram Lalla Virajman for declaration and possession.
In the 1980s, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) began a campaign for the construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Ram at the site, with the BJP as its political voice. Several rallies and marches were held as a part of this movement, including the ‘Ram Rath Yatra’ led by L.K. Advani. On 6 December, 1992 the VHP and the BJP organised a rally at the site involving 150,000 volunteers, known as ”kar sevaks’. The rally turned violent, and the crowd overwhelmed security forces and tore down the mosque. The demolition of the mosque also resulted in several months of inter-communal riots between the Hindu and Muslim communities where over 2000 people died.
In June 2009, the Liberhan commission which was investigating the case presented its reports, 17 years after it began its inquiry. Even though it caused an uproar in the Parliament because it blamed leading politicians from the Hindu nationalist BJP for a role in the mosque’s razing, it failed to create a desirable impact because of the delay in submitting the report.
A three judge bench of the Allahabad High Court ruled in 2010 that the land should be divided into three parts. Thus, the judgment tried to establish a balance among all the parties involved – Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhada and the Sunni Waqf board. Also, the court declared that since Hindus believed that the ‘birth place’ of Lord Ram was below the place where the central dome of the mosque stood, that place be allotted to them. For certain sections of the society, this was a dismal decision since the Babri Masjid had been situated at the very spot for nearly five centuries.
Responsibilities of the judiciary
A BJP led team of archaeologists had claimed that there were remnants of the Ram temple below the mosque which had prompted the Allabahad High Court court to hand over two-thirds of the land to Hindu parties. However, BJP leaders like Subramanian Swamy have plead to the Supreme Court to allow for the Ram temple to be rebuilt at the site. The Supreme Court needed to engage with the dispute at such a juncture and pass a binding decision which would be beneficial for all the involved parties, instead of calling for a settlement out of court.
Ram Puniyani is a former professor of biomedical engineering and former senior medical officer affiliated with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.
Featured image source: Times of India
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