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Does the Verdict Legitimise Masjid Demolition?

Cover Story

, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI

DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI writes on how the controversial verdict has legitimised the wilful dilapidation of the Babri Masjid.

As the matters stand, the Cong-led UPA dispensation, through its Parliamentarians as well as professional propagandists, is trying every nerve, both directly and indirectly, to pave the way for the construction of a magnificent Ram Janmabhoomi temple on the debris of Babri Masjid – of course without losing Muslim patronage at the hustings. The party knows it is next to impossible.
A luminary belonging to a Muslim nationalist party, known for its proximity to the Congress, had to lose his face among Muslims after expression of “a personal opinion” in this regard. The enthusiastic advocacy of the Congress cause turned into an albatross around his neck. But, like Goldsmith’s poor schoolmaster, the leader was “though vanquished, yet arguing still.”
On the other hand, today the saffron is happier and Mr. L.K. Advani the happiest because the latter feels the Sep 30 court verdict has vindicated his stand on what he loves to call the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The special reason of his glee is that the court has given supremacy to faith over law. His lieutenants have thrown a wide net to capture those among Muslims who stand for approaching the Supreme Court. In the name of higher values, accommodation and magnanimity they are appealing to the accredited Muslim leadership to show large-heartedness and catholicity. The saffron activists give the impression they are prepared to purchase the one-third Masjid site given by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court. They would also welcome if that plot is gifted to the Hindu brethren as a gesture of goodwill. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has made it crystal clear that it will not accept anything less than the entire 70 acre plot for the construction of a splendid shrine like the Akshardham in Delhi. A battery of sadhus and sants has been unleashed to create a pro-temple atmosphere.
 
LEGITIMISATION
In the meantime, commentator after commentator is underscoring the fact that the controversial verdict has legitimised the wilful dilapidation of the Babri Masjid. Mr. T.R. Andhayaruina, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court says: “The Ayodhya judgements of the Allahabad High Court make no note of the vandalism of December 6, 1992. On the other hand, they take the demolition as a fait accompli as if the disputed 2.7 acre site was vacant land. After holding that the area beneath the central dome of the erstwhile Masjid must be allotted to the Hindus because of their faith that lord Ram’s birthplace was there and areas covered by the Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi should be allotted to the Nirmohi Akhada, the court has said that the remaining area of the disputed site should be divided; two-thirds to the two Hindu plaintiffs and one-third to the Muslim plaintiff by metes and bounds. These judgements, therefore legalise and legitimise the 1992 demolition, as the decree of the court proceeds on the basis that there is no Masjid on the disputed site today. It is an elementary rule of justice in courts that when a party to a litigation takes the law into its own hands and alters the existing state of affairs to its advantage, (as the demolition in 1992 did in favour of the Hindu plaintiffs), the court would first order the restitution of the pre-existing state of affairs. If this is not possible, as in the present case, the court would not allow an act of lawlessness to benefit the party that indulged in it. This elementary rule of justice, the Allahabad High Court judgement ignores.”
 
VERDICT & WHITE PAPER
Here it also seems appropriate to recall what the Supreme Court had said in its judgement in 1994 on demolition: “Within a short time, the entire structure was demolished and raised to the ground. Indeed, it was an act of ‘national shame’. What was demolished was not merely an ancient structure but the faith of the minorities in the sense of justice and fair play of the majority. It shook their faith in the rule of law and Constitutional process. A 500-year-old structure, which was defenceless and whose safety was a sacred trust in the hands of the government was demolished.”
It also seems worthwhile to note what the White Paper issued by the government on the demolition had averred: “The demolition of the Ram Janmabhoomi structure at Ayodhya on 6/12/1992 was a most reprehensible act. The perpetrators of this deed struck not only against a place of worship but also at the principles of secularism, democracy and rule of law, enshrined in our Constitution. In a move as sudden as it was shameful, a few thousand people managed to outrage the sentiments of millions and millions of all communities, who have reacted to the incidence with anguish and dismay.”
 
REPEATED ASSURANCES
Also recall here the repeated assurances belatedly dished out by the then Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao that the mosque shall be rebuilt.
We as bewildered citizens ask ourselves: where to put all this now? Should we throw it in the Yamuna?
Political party after political party is coming out with concrete arguments which hold mirror to the verdict. To the Communist Party of India (M), the very basis of the judgement is disturbing as the 3-way division of the land is not based upon law but ‘faith and belief’. The judgement accords primacy to religious beliefs and faiths over facts and evidence. What has been ignored are basic facts of history, archaeology, legal logic and facts of other streams of scientific knowledge. The verdict has raised questions about fundamentals of jurisprudence, rule of law and the principles of secular democracy.
To some observers, the very legal validity of the judgement is under serious stress because it provides legal sanction for the demolition of the mosque.
 
SALT ON FESTERING WOUND
Add to it the official assertion that the demolition was a criminal act and it should not be linked to the verdict. Muslims ask: Does this precious piece of advice not rub salt against the Muslim wound?


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