The Supreme Court hearing on Ram Temple case commenced today on 29th October. However, defying the expectations and to certain extent the common sense, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on Ayodhya case until January 2019.
Despite the Court’s earlier promise that the hearing would be fast-tracked, the verdict today is baffling. The case has been in the judiciary for a very long time. The first civil suit in the matter dates back to 1885. It was filed by Mahant Raghubir Das in January 1885 in the Court of the Sub-Judge, Faizabad. In his plea, Mahant Raghubir Das demanded permission to construct a temple on the chabutara outside the so-called Babri Masjid. His plea was rejected and later on the colonial British administration put a fence around the site.
The matter attracted the conscience of the nation again in the year 1949-50 when an idol of Bhagwan Ram appeared exactly at the proclaimed birthplace on the night of 22 December 1949. This led to the flood of Hindu devotees inside the birthplace of Bhagwan Ram and protest by Muslims. The then PM Jawaharlal Nehru wanted that idols of Bhagwan Ram to be removed. However, the local official with sane mind KK Nair refused to implement the orders because it would have led to communal riots. To keep the law and order situation under control, the local administration locked the gate and banned the entry of people. However, the idols remained inside the premise and the priests were allowed to perform daily worship. The temple got its identity back. Both Hindus and Muslim bodies filed civil suits in the court.
Gopal Singh Visharad filed a case in the Faizabad civil court on 16 January 1950. He demanded exclusive rights for performing puja and a permanent injunction prohibiting removal of the idol from the birthplace of Bhagwan Ram. The court issued a temporary injunction and later on a division bench of the Allahabad High Court also maintained the same order which was issued by the local court. On 24th April 1950, the Congress government of Uttar Pradesh appealed against the injunction order.
On 5 December 1950, Paramhans Ramchandra Das, chief of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas (Rama Birthplace Temple Trust) filed a case requesting continuation of puja. However, later on he withdrew the case.
On 17 December 1959, Nirmohi Akhara filed a case demanding possession of the site, claiming to be the custodian of Ram Janambhumi and also demanded the transfer of charge of the disputed site from the receiver.
On 18 December 1961, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqfs came into the picture and moved to court. It demanded possession of the mosque and adjoining land, and also demanded removal of idols of Bhagwan Ram.
In the year 1986, on the basis of Hari Shankar Dubey’s plea, the district court judge ordered to unlock the gates for ‘darshan’ to Hindu worshippers. In the protest against the court’s decision, Muslims set up Babri Masjid Action Committee. As a result of their action, gate was opened for less than an hour and locked again.
The clamour for building Ram Temple at Ram Janambhumi was growing. In the year 1989, Former VHP vice-president and a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, Deoki Nandan Agarwala, filed a suit for the title and possession at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
In the same year, Nehru’s grandson Rajiv Gandhi, in order to appease Hindu voters, ordered to reopen the gates. He also allowed the VHP to perform shilanyas ceremony. After that the BJP, VHP, and the RSS launched a nationwide movement to build a grand Ram Temple. The movement intensified over the next three years which ultimately resulted in the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. One of the main reasons behind rise in enthusiasm with respect to construction of Ram Temple was sacrifices made by Karsevaks. On 2nd November 1990, Mulayam Singh Yadav re-enacted a Jallianwala Bagh, when state police mercilessly fired and killed Kar Sevaks in the most brutal way. As per BJP the number of casualties was around 168, but locals and eyewitnesses accounts say it ran into thousands.
Following the demolition of Mosque, Justice Liberhan Commission was set up in the same year to investigate the demolition of Babri Mosque and submit its report within three months.
President rule was imposed in Uttar Pradesh and the Kalyan Singh government of the state was dismissed. The BJP-led governments in three other states were also dismissed soon after.
In the year 1993, PV Narasimha Rao led Congress government at the Centre passed ‘Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act’ on 3 April 1993 to take possession of all the disputed areas (67.7 acres) under suits pending in the Allahabad High Court. In the same year, Ismail Faruqui filed petition challenging the validity of the act.
In 1994, the Supreme Court in its verdict on the question of acquisition of religious place by the government, had come to the conclusion that under the Mohammedan law applicable in India, a Mosque may be lost by adverse possession. The court had further observed that if this is the position of law, then there can be no reason why a Mosque should be given a special or unique status, different from the places of worship of other religions in a secular India. The bench also came to the conclusion that a Mosque cannot be immune from acquisition by exercise of sovereign powers of the state. Coming to the question of necessity of Mosques for offering namaz, the Court had made it clear that namaz can be offered by Muslims anywhere, even in public spaces and therefore, it cannot be said that Mosques are essential for offering namaz. And that the acquisition of a Mosque is nowhere prohibited under the provisions of the Constitution of India.
In the year 1996, the honorable High Court of Allahabad commenced recording oral evidence regarding the title dispute.
In 2002, the Allahabad High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to find out if a temple existed in the area as claimed by the Hindus.
In January 2003, the ASI commenced its excavation to find out the evidence of temple beneath the Ram Janambhumi. In the report submitted by ASI, it found the claims to be true. The Muslim bodies rejected the findings of ASI.
In March 2003, the apex court banned religious activity at the acquired land and maintained that interim order should stay in force till disposal of the suits pending in Allahabad High Court to maintain law and order, and communal harmony.
In 2010, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court in its judgment divided the disputed land into three parts ― one-third for the Sunni Waqf Board, one-third for the Nirmohi Akhara and one-third to the party for ‘Ram Lalla’(Under representation of Hindu Mahasabha).
In the same year, Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Waqf Board challenged the Allahabad High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court.
In 2011, the apex court stayed the Allahabad High Court’s decision on splitting of disputed land into three parts and ordered to maintain the status quo. In 2016, the senior BJP leader and the Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy filed a plea in the apex court on 26 February demanding construction of Ram Temple at the Ram Janambhumi.
On 27 March 2017, the then CJI JS Khehar suggested an out of court settlement. A three-judge bench was constituted by the Apex Court to hear pleas challenging the 1994 Ismail Faruqui verdict of the Allahabad High Court. During all this process, the UP Shia Central Waqf Board told the SC that a mosque could be constructed in a Muslim-dominated area at a distance from the disputed site.
In the same year on 1 December 32 “civil rights activists” filed pleas challenging the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court.
On 27 September 2018, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra along with Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer gave a 2:1 majority verdict refusing to refer the case to a larger bench. It also announced that the Ayodhya case will be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on 29 October.
On October 29, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on Ayodhya case until January 2019.
Even after the long legal battle the resolution seems nowhere and this is on judiciary which, after today’s verdict, it seems does not consider it an important matter. The Ram temple issue is indeed an important matter as it pertains to the faith of millions of Hindus and this delay in resolution is tantamount to willfully hurting the sentiments of Hindus. The long legal delay seems unwarranted as there are multiple evidences for Ram Temple. For now, it seems ordinance is the only way towards Ram temple and the government must act before it’s too late.