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Raja bola raat hai,

Mantri bola raat hai

Court bola raat hai

Yeh subah-subah kee baat hai

(The King said it was night;

The Ministers said it was night;

The Court said it was night;

It was early morning)

The Court of the Honorable Chief Justice of India’s below the central dome of the Supreme Court building, is the setting to pronounce judgment on the title dispute about the space below the central dome of the destroyed Babri Masjid.

The audacity of the court staff at not throwing open the hallowed portals to clamouring lawyers is astounding, given the ongoing black –khaki Mahabharata in the modern Indraprastha, aka Delhi, the capital of the Kingdom, sorry, Republic. Age is catching up, at sixty plus with almost forty years in legal labyrinths, I realize  being jostled, shoved and pushed into the institution befuddles the mind leading to mistakes and confusing republics with heavenly kingdoms, the Nizam-e-Mustafa, Ram –rajya et al.

Awaiting for Lordships to appear – the mood is upbeat– ‘The temple will be built there’; ‘There will be consensus judgment’. The doors of the inner sanctum – sanctorum – a sort of ‘garbh-grih’ of justice opens and five durbans in turbans, albeit minus maces, enter and stand behind the chairs heralding the arrival of the lordships as all leap to stand up in respect to the Solomons, or more aptly the Vikramadityas in a recalibrated India. In deference to My Lord the Chief Justice’s request for silence, the packed court room awaits The Judgment.

In a Ram-bhakt avtar passionately wanting the mandir, I would have got worried and concerned as the  golden phrases rolled off the tongue of My Lord the CJI reading out the summary of the judgment- ‘At the heart of the Constitution is a commitment to equality..; ‘Every judge of this Court is not merely tasked with but sworn to uphold the Constitution and its values’; ‘ The Constitution does not make a distinction between the faith and belief of one religion and another’;  ‘this Court… must preserve the sense of balance that the beliefs of one citizen do not interfere with…the freedoms and beliefs of another’ with the virtuoso note : ‘Those whose duty it is to interpret the Constitution, enforce it and engage with it can ignore this only to the peril of our society and nation’. Elucidating the approach to the issue the Court declared -‘In deciding title to the disputed property, the court applies settled principles of evidence to adjudicate upon which party has established a claim to the immovable property’.

The parallel stream of  ‘there is evidence to show that namaz was offered in the structure of the mosque ..’;  ‘ The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago’; ‘the Muslims were dispossessed upon the desecration of the mosque … which was ultimately destroyed on ­­­­­­­­­6 December 1992’ and ‘There was no abandonment of the mosque by the Muslims’’,  would have led to a sinking feeling with regard to the chances of the verdict favouring the construction of  the Ram Mandir. However, there appeared to be no perceptible wrinkle on the brow of my brethren, guess the hallmark of the faith of a true believer.

And Lo and behold! The Apex Court decrees the suit and declares that the entire disputed area belongs to Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman! O ye of little faith – my brethren unshaken by doubts are proven right! Perhaps, giving us a glimpse of the New India towards which we are moving. It is indeed a consensus judgment and the five judges may get elevated from being demigods to deserving a place in the Hindu pantheon.

The British, after the 1856-57 communal riots erected a wall and divided the disputed premises into two parts – inner portion used by Muslims and the outer courtyard to be used by Hindus. The judgment records a finding that the Hindus never accepted the division and the complex as a whole was of religious significance. Evidence of witnesses that pilgrims offered prayers standing at the railing in the outer courtyard looking towards the sanctum sanctorum was held to establish the that the division did not obliterate their belief that the ‘Garbh-grih’ (womb or room where the child is delivered) below the central dome of the Babri Masjid was the birthplace of Lord Rama. The issue whether the belief was justified was held to be outside the jurisdiction of the court as a secular institution. The judgment holds the outer courtyard and the inner portion to be a composite whole and declares Lord Ram as the title holder and the owner of the entire disputed site of 2.77 acres.

Mr. Advani, started of the Ramjanambhoomi yatra from Somnath, plundered by Mahmud  Ghazni in 1024  and declared that either the Muslims vacate  the birthplace of Ram or it will be forcibly taken over. Advaniji proceeded to whip up emotions leaving a trail of violence and killings in the rath yatra travels, culminating in the destruction of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. This destruction was in violation of the solemn undertaking given to the very Supreme Court which has delivered the verdict effectively endorsing the events. The Apex Court which has chosen to imprison persons for months for violation of its orders, has thought fit to impose the lone penalty of a day’s imprisonment to Mr.Kalyan Singh, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for contempt of court in the matter. Mr. Advani, an accused in the case for the ­­­act, welcoming the judgment declared that he felt ‘vindicated and deeply blessed’ at the unanimous verdict.

One of the fundamental principles of law is – ‘No one can take advantage of one’s own wrong’. An example from matrimonial law may illustrate the proposition – A person cannot commit cruelty against the spouse and then file a case for divorce on the ground of cruelty. An interrelated axiom comes into play and courts deny relief, if they have not been approached with “clean hands”.  The destruction of the mosque is not an event lost in the mists of history with conflicting versions. The declaration of the intention, the fructification of the criminal conspiracy culminating in the destruction of the mosque is well documented with videos of the events.  Mr. Advani and a host of leaders from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad like Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Giriraj Kishore along with unknown kar sewaks are arraigned as accused in the criminal trial with regard to the destruction of Babri Masjid for offences including rioting, promoting enmity among groups and public mischief. By any stretch the actions would clearly fall within the ambit of coming to court with ‘unclean hands’ and would be sufficient to deny relief.

Courts are approached for remedy for legal wrongs. The findings of the Apex Court on the issue are crystal clear – the Muslims were dispossessed and their place of worship desecrated by placing idols on the night of 22/23rd December, 1949 without any authority of law. The breaking of the Babri Masjid on 6th December 1992 was a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship. After terming the act as “an egregious violation of the rule of law”, the Court has thought fit to direct allotment of five acres of land elsewhere in Ayodhya for a mosque, as adequate remedy for the legal wrong. The manifestly disproportional   nature of the remedy as restitution to the Muslim community for the brazen criminal acts committed culminating in the destruction, casts grave doubts on the judiciousness of the Ayodhya Verdict.

Newspapers report that there are 24 mentions of ‘secular’ in the verdict portraying it as proof of the judgment underlining its importance. Invoking secularism seems to take on the quality of a mantra which is repeatedly chanted. Secularism is what secularism does! A number of temples are today run by Government trusts pursuant to laws passed by the legislature. The legal position elucidated by numerous judgments has been that the government can regulate the secular parts of the activities. The temples themselves have already been in existence and their mismanagement has lead to being taken over. In possibly a first, the Central Government of our ‘Secular Republic’ has been directed to form a trust to construct a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, by the highest court of this land.

Faith seems to have been the lynchpin of the decision about the Ayodhya judgment and it is apt to end with Kabir, as to the relation of temples and mosques to belief, faith, spirituality and yearnings to evolve into a better human being:

Jo matware ram ke, lagan huye man mahn;

Jyon darpan kee sundari, konhu pakda nah

(‘Those intoxicated with the love of Ram, seek confluence within;

It is akin to a beautiful woman in a mirror, which cannot be caught by anyone)

Kankar- pathar jod ke, masjid layi chunai;

Ta chadh  mulla bang de, ka behera hua khudai’

(“Gathering pebbles and stones, the masjid constructed;

The mulla climbs onto it and crows like a cock, has God gone deaf”)

 

Rakesh Shukla

Advocate

Member, Supreme Court Bar Association

 Member, International Council of Jurists 

Consultant,International  Psychoanalytical Association Committee of Law and Psychoanalysis

Affiliate, Indian Psychoanalytical Society 

Member, Indian Association of Family Therapy 

Counselor, Delhi High Court Mediation and Reconciliation Center 

E-mail: rakesh.counsel@gmail. com


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