The country is bracing itself for a historic day, as the arguments on the Ram Mandir case have been concluded. The legal dispute over the Ramjanam Bhoomi site has been lingering on for the past 134 years. Earlier in the day, the Chief Justice of India said, ‘Enough is enough’ and fixed 5 PM as the deadline for the conclusion of hearing in the case. However, the arguments were over by 4 PM, an hour before the deadline. As per latest reports, all parties can submit their written submissions over the next three days.
This has paved the way into one of the most eagerly awaited verdicts to date which is likely to come by November 17 before CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s retirement. The case has been in the courts for 134 years and is the longest title dispute in the country.
The first civil suit in the matter dates back to 1885. It was filed by Mahant Raghubir Das on January 1885 in the Court of the Sub-Judge, Faizabad. In his plea, Mahant Raghubir Das had demanded permission to construct a temple on the chabutara outside the so-called Babri Masjid. 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.
Thereafter, both the Hindu and Muslim sides had filed civil suits in the court. The 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment had 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’ (Underrepresentation of Hindu Mahasabha). The Supreme Court is now on the brink of deciding appeals to this matter.
Even as the most keenly awaited legal dispute of India is about to come to an end, India’s highest court witnessed high voltage drama over the last two days with Senior Advocate, Rajeev Dhavan who is representing the Muslim side suffering a severe meltdown right before the Supreme Court bench.
In the final day of hearing started in a dramatic manner even as Dhavan started tearing up evidential papers and maps which were handed over to him by the Hindu Mahasabha, one of the petitioners.
Dhavan had requested permission to tear the document up. This evoked a rather sarcastic reply from CJI Gogoi who said, “You do what you want.” He added, “You can shred it further.” Dhavan went on. Later on, Dhavan spoke about the issue of tearing the map handed to him by the Hindu Mahasabha, which went viral throughout the day. He said, “The CJI said I could shred the papers and I just followed the order. I take advice from Mr (Arvind) Datar in such matters, and he told me it was a mandamus.” CJI Gogoi gave a sarcastic reply to this remark and said, “Dr Dhavan is right…the chief justice said so he tore it up.”
The commotion generated Dhavan’s meltdown and the outrageous act of tearing papers given as evidence in the case did not go down well with the apex court with the Chief Justice of India saying, “Decorum has been spoiled, decorum is not maintained. If proceedings continue in this manner, we would just get up and walk out.”
Vikas Singh, the advocate representing the Hindu Mahasabha had sought to place a book by former IPS officer, Kishore Kunal which deals with the pre-existence of the Ram Mandir at the disputed site. Dhavan vehemently objected to the book being placed on record. CJI Gogoi, meanwhile, asked the advocate representing the Hindu Mahasabha if he could keep the book to which the latter replied in affirmative. He said, “I will start reading it now and will keep reading it in November and after that…will you also sign it for me?”
Dhavan seems to have been suffering a moment of meltdown and disarray, a clear sign that the Muslim party counsel has foreseen his defeat after years of exploiting delay tactics. Meanwhile, CJI Ranjan Gogoi maintained composure and accommodated both parties as they made their last shot in the title case.
The Nirmohi Akhara, which represents the Hindu side in the legal dispute has made some compelling arguments in this case. It has argued that the burden of proof was upon the Muslim side to prove that Babur had built the Mosque. Nirmohi Akhara has said that the Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties have failed to discharge this burden and prove that the Mosque was built by the Mughal emperor.
Senior Advocate C S Vaidyanathan elaborated further that if the Muslim side was looking to claim the title on the basis of the doctrine of adverse possession then it will have to accept that the dirty or temple was the real owner. He said, “They cannot claim benefit of adverse possession. If they claim so then they will have to show the ouster of the prior owner that is temple or the deity in this case.”
From the cogent arguments made by the Hindu side and over the top reaction by the Muslim parties with Dhavan losing his composure time and again shows the direction in which the matter is headed. It is this sense of inevitable that triggered a virtual meltdown on the part of the counsel for the Muslim side, Rajeev Dhavan.
Earlier today, the Sunni Waqf Board had renewed its proposal of giving up claim on the Ram Mandir if the UP government took over the task of maintaining 22 mosques in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court formed a Committee to check the status of other religious sites under the control of the ASI and the Courts work towards making the Places of Religious Worship Act 1991 watertight. While this seems like a goodwill gesture, in reality, it is an attempt to take the moral high ground. This make-believe goodwill gesture has been made by the Sunni Waqf Board even as the Supreme Court moved towards the conclusion of arguments in the dispute and it became amply clear that the top court is moving towards pronouncement of judgment in the matter. A substantial portion of the arguments and evidence had already been placed before the apex court and as such the process of adjudication had been almost completed. The dispute has been pending for 134 years, in such a scenario, it was only hopelessness that triggered the futile offer of giving up claim over the Ramjanam Bhoomi site.
The Sunni Waqf Board’s offer came even as the Muslim parties alleged that questions have been put to them only and not the Hindus. Rajeev Dhawan had said, “Your Lordship didn’t ask questions to the other side. All the questions have been asked to us only. Of course, we are answering them.” This again shows how the Muslim parties have started making outrageous allegations and have also made futile attempts to occupy the moral high ground even as they failed to discharge the burden of proving their claim over the disputed site.
As they realize that they don’t stand a chance of securing a favorable verdict in more than a century-old legal dispute, they are trying to find excuses to somehow escape or delay the verdict as a verdict in favour of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya would only set a historic precedent for restoring temples in Kashi, Mathura and various other sites where Mosques stand over ancient Hindu temples.
The judgment on this dispute is expected to come within a month. Now, crores of devotees who have been eagerly awaiting the construction of a grand temple at Lord Ram’s birthplace would be full of hope and energy as they expect that the verdict would finally pave the way for the construction of the Ram temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram. The hearing has concluded in a dramatic manner, and based on the meltdown of the Muslim parties, the Lord Ram devotees would be eagerly anticipating the favourable verdict that has eluded Lord Ram’s devotees for the past 134 years.