Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Ayodhya verdict: Supreme Court rejects all 19 review petitions

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The Supreme Court rejected all the 19 petitions seeking a review of its historical verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case.  The court also declined permission to 40 civil rights activists, to file the review petition. The court said that they were not parties to the original case.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court heard in-chamber, a batch of petitions seeking review of Supreme Court’s November 9 verdict in Ayodhya dispute.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde comprised Justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer, and Sanjiv Khanna. After former CJI Ranjan Gogoi retired from his office, he was replaced by Justice Khanna in the new bench.

Eighteen review petitions were filed in the court, of which nine are filed by those who were the original parties in the case. The other nine were filed by third parties. The majority of petitions were filed by Muslim parties which include– Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)–expressing their discontentment with the verdict.

Zafaryab Jilani, member and counsel of All India Muslim Personal Law Board said, “It is unfortunate that despite making all the grounds in our petition the Supreme Court didn’t entertain our review petitions.”

Arshad Madni, president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind while expressing his discontentment over the Supreme Court’s decision to reject the review petitions, said, “Despite court accepting that Babri Masjid was demolished and considered the people involved in it as guilty, it still chose to give judgment in their favour.”

The apex court in its historic judgment on November 9 had ruled in favour of Hindus by giving them 2.77 acres of the disputed site for the construction of a Ram temple and ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to allocate five-acre of land in a prominent place in Ayodhya to Waqf for constructing a mosque.

Jamiat-i-Hind in his petition filed on December 2 had contended that the judgment of the court amounts to giving validity to the Hindu parties’ action of demolishing the Babri Masjid. The verdict of the court seems to reward the criminal action of the Hindu parties by giving them title to the disputed site, said Jamiat in its petition.

They had further contended that the court disregarded the principles of rule of law and natural law that no person can derive benefit from an illegal action. Despite accepting and acknowledging that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1993 amounted to a criminal action, the court went on to reward the crimes of the Hindu parties by giving relief in their favour. If justice is to prevail, then it can be done in this case only by allowing restitution of the damage done to the Muslim parties i.e., ordering for the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid.

The Jamiat in its review petition also said that the court gave precedence to oral testimonies of the Hindu parties and disregarded the documentary evidence produced by the Muslim parties to show that the structure in question had always been a mosque and had been in exclusive possession of the Muslims.

While AIMPLB had contended that the court was wrong in awarding the title to the Hindu parties since the court acknowledged and appreciated the fact that the site was in exclusive possession of the Muslims and they entered and prayed at the disputed site uninterruptedly till 1949.

Their petition further contended that the judgment of the top court gives legal sanctions to the crimes committed by Hindu parties– criminal trespassing and vandalizing the personal property.  The court also erred in the verdict by handing over the possession of the disputed site to Ram Lalla when the court itself has acknowledged that the idol was forcibly and illegally placed there by the Hindu parties.

One of the major Hindu parties, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha had also filed a review petition challenging the Supreme Court’s direction to the Uttar Pradesh government to allot 5 acres of land to Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board for construction of a mosque as a “compensatory measure”.

According to their review petition, they had pleaded that if Muslim parties have failed to prove that the construction in question at the site is a ‘mosque.

The plea filed for the Hindu Mahasabha filed by Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain also urged the top court to reconsider the references made by the court to the same structure as “mosque” or as a “masjid” and the same shall be expunged.

“The building in dispute could not be termed as mosque or masjid or Babari Masjid. In view of the fact and law concerning the case, it would be desirable that the Hon’ble Court may delete the word Babri mosque/ Babri Masjid/mosque/masjid in paragraph 788 (XVIII) and wherever occurs in the judgment and the same may be substituted by the word ‘disputed structure’.”

The petitioner had also made submissions as to why the Hindu parties should not be condemned for the demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. The rationale that the petitioner gave for this submission is that Muslims never had a claim to the Ayodhya site. Even if there was a time when they offered prayers in the inner courtyard of the site, it amounts to an encroachment on the sacred land and place of worship for Hindus.

On December 9, 40 activists and members of civil society, including historian Irfan Habib, economist Prabhat Patnaik, activist Harsh Mander, and sociologist Nandini Sundar had also filed review petitions, saying the said judgment errs in both facts and law.


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