New Delhi, Nov 9: The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya – claimed both by Hindus and Muslims for nearly a century — concluding India’s longest-running historical, political, legal and socio-religious debate.
The top court also directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for a mosque at a ‘prominent’ site in the holy town. The court observed: “It is clear that the destruction of the 16th century three-domed structure by Hindu karsevaks, who wanted to build a Ram temple there, was a wrong that must be remedied.”
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77-acre land would be handed over to deity Ram Lalla, or infant Ram, who was one of the three litigants in the case.
But “the right of Ram Lalla to the disputed property is subject to the maintenance of peace and law and order and tranquility,” said the five five judges.
The land, however, will remain with a central government receiver. The apex court asked the Centre to set up a trust within three months for construction of the temple.
“The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed,” the court said in its 1,045-page verdict in the politically-sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land case.
“The lands of our country have witnessed invasions and dissentions. Yet they have assimilated into the idea of India everyone who sought their providence, whether they came as merchants, travellers or as conquerors,” the verdict read.
“The history and culture of this country have been home to quests for truth, through the material, the political, and the spiritual. This court is called upon to fulfill its adjudicatory function where it is claimed the two quests for the truth impinge on the freedoms of the other or violate the rule of law,” it said.
The Supreme Court observed Hindus had established their case that they were in possession of the outer courtyard but the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board had failed to prove its argument in the dispute.
“The dispute is over immovable property. The court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence,” the judgment said, delivered at the end of a marathon 40-day hearing — the second longest in the history of the apex court. Justice Gogoi is due to retire on November 17.
“On the balance of probabilities, there is clear evidence to indicate that the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard has continued unimpeded even before 1857 when the British annexed Oudh region.”
“The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession” of the mosque before 1857,” the verdict read.
“The fact that there lay a temple beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the underlying structure was not an Islamic structure,” the apex court judgment said.
It said terming the archaeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India.
The court also said that Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place. The faith of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure was undisputed, the apex court said.
The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih were testimony to the religious nature of the place.
The demolition of the 500-year Babri mosque on December 6, 1992 triggered nationwide communal riots that killed more than 2,000 people. Subsequently, Muslim extremists angered by the demolition and the riots, carried out a series of bombings in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, which left hundreds dead.
The three litigants in the case — the symbolic Ram Lalla Virajman, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board — had knocked on the top court’s door after a three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court in September 2010 distributed the land equally between them. The court had ruled 2:1 in favour of Hindus.
Of that judgment, the Supreme Court said: “The high court wrongly decided the title suit by resorting to partitioning of the disputed land in three parts. The disputed site was government land in the revenue records.”
The trifurcation of the disputed area was stalled by the apex court in May, 2011 after both Hindus and Muslims challenged the Allahabad High Court verdict on nearly ten broad points.
Of Saturday’s verdict, the litigants said:
“The verdict is very balanced and it is a victory of the people,” said C S Vaidyanathan, lawyer for deity Ram Lalla.
But the Sunni Waqf Board, one of the main parties, said it was not satisfied. “The verdict holds no value for us. It has lot of contradictions,” Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Board, told reporters.
The Nirmohi Akhara said it had no ‘regrets’ about the verdict.
The Ayodhya dispute had over the decades launched several independent and government-sponsored initiatives to determine whether a Hindu temple existed beneath the 16th Century Babri Masjid that was pulled down by right wing activists on December 6, 1992.
Hindu parties have traditionally believed that the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram – arguing on the premises of archaeological evidence, faith and collective memory — while the Sunni Waqf Board argued the land where the Babri Masjid stood was waqf property.
There was unprecedented security in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday as well as other parts of India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said Friday that the judgment would not be anyone’s “victory or defeat” but “would give strength to India’s tradition of peace, unity and amity”.
On Friday, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also held a meeting with the chief secretary and top police officers of Uttar Pradesh and took stock of security arrangements ahead of the verdict.
Here is a brief history of the case:
Initially, as many as five lawsuits were filed in the lower court. The first was by Gopal Singh Visharad, a devotee of ‘Ram Lalla’’ in 1950 to seek enforcement of the right to worship of Hindus at the disputed site.
In the same year, the Paramahansa Ramachandra Das had also filed the lawsuit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols under the central dome of the now-demolished disputed structure. The plea was later withdrawn.
Later, the Nirmohi Akahara also moved trial court in 1959 seeking management and ‘shebaiti’ (devotee) rights over the 2.77 acre disputed land.
Then came the lawsuit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board which moved the court in 1961, claiming title right over the disputed property.
The deity, ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’, through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Janmbhoomi (the birthplace) moved the lawsuit in 1989, seeking title right over the entire disputed property on the key ground that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a ‘juristic entity’.
Later, all lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication following the demolition of the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid structure on December 6, 1992, sparking communal riots in the country. The apex court had on August 6 commenced day-to-day proceedings in the case as the mediation proceedings initiated to find the amicable resolution had failed.
The bench on October 16 had reserved the judgment after a marathon hearing of 40 days.
A new dawn for us: PM Modi
New Delhi, Nov 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute should not be seen as win or loss for anybody, and appealed to countrymen to maintain peace and harmony.
In a unanimous verdict, the top court cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.
In a series of tweets in Hindi and English, Modi also asserted that the judgment clearly illustrates that everybody is equal before the law.
“Be it Ram Bhakti or Rahim Bhakti (devotion to Ram or Rahim), it is imperative that we strengthen the spirit of rashtra bhakti (devotion to the country),” he said, adding “the verdict shouldn’t be seen as a win or loss for anybody.”
Noting that the temple of justice (the apex court) has amicably concluded a matter going on for decades, he said the SC verdict will further strengthen people’s faith in the judicial system.
“The calm and peace maintained by 130 crore Indians in the run-up to today’s verdict manifests India’s inherent commitment to peaceful coexistence. May this very spirit of unity and togetherness power the development trajectory of our nation. May every Indian be empowered,” he said.
“Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view,” he said.
“The judgment is notable as it highlights that any dispute can be amicably solved in the spirit of due process of law. It (the verdict) reaffirms the independence, transparency and farsightedness of our judiciary. May peace and harmony prevail,” he tweeted.
Modi on Friday had also appealed to the people that the priority should be to strengthen India’s tradition of maintaining peace and harmony after the verdict is pronounced on Saturday.
“The Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya would not be a matter of victory or loss. My appeal to countrymen is that it should be our priority that the verdict should strengthen India’s great tradition of peace, unity and amity,” he had tweeted.
Later in the day, the PM while addressing the nation said that the verdict “has brought a new dawn for us.”
“Many generations may have been affected by the dispute but we must resolve that we make a new start for a New India,” he said.
“My dear countrymen! Today the Supreme Court has pronounced judgment on such a matter which has a historic background of several decades. The entire country felt that the case should be heard every day, and it was. That entire process is now at an end,” he said.
“The whole world already knew that India is the largest democracy but today it has been proven that it is also vibrant and strong,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister added that the way all categories of people “have accepted the verdict with open hearts, it shows the strength of our unity and national character.”
“After so many thousands of years, unity in diversity is very much in evidence. Today’s event and the way it has been played out will be a reference point. It is a golden chapter not just with respect to our unity but also our jurisprudence. SC heard everyone, with great patience, and to everyone’s satisfaction the verdict was unanimous,” said Modi.
He added that “November 9th was the day the Berlin Wall fell and two rival ideologies had united.”
“Today, we saw the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Ayodhya verdict on this day, therefore, is telling us that the message from the date is to be united in harmony and amity. Anyone holding onto any bitterness, I request that they too give it up,” he said.
“To move forward with the confidence that we don’t leave anyone behind,” he said.
Mr. Modi says “Now as a society, every Indian has to work by giving priority to his duty, his duty. The harmony between us, Our unity, Our peace, Very important for the development of the country.”
The Prime Minister says “Today, with the decision on Ayodhya, this date of November 9 has also given us a lesson to move forward together. Today’s message is to add — to join and to live together.” (Agencies)
Neither provided equity nor justice: AIMPLB
New Delhi, Nov 9: After a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court allotted the disputed Ayodhya land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said Saturday that the verdict “neither provided equity nor justice”, and that it may file a review plea in the coming days.
Addressing the media outside the Supreme Court, AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani said, “The judgment has just been pronounced, it says a lot of things about the Constitution and about secularism. We are very dissatisfied with this judgment. Article 142 does not let you do this.”
Jilani was a part of the board’s legal team that fought the case in the Allahabad High Court and subsequently in the apex court.
Raising objections to certain parts of the verdict, Jilani said, “We are dissatisfied that the inner courtyard where prayers were offered was given to the other side. Neither equity nor justice has been served.”
“As per the Sharia law, we cannot give away a mosque; however, we will abide by the court’s verdict. There is no evidence on what happened on that land between the 12th century and 1528. The Hindus claim that the temple was present since the Vikramaditya era but there is no evidence on that,” he said.
On the allocation of a separate plot of land for the Muslim community, Jilani said the decades-long dispute was about the mosque, and not about land.
“You cannot exchange land for a mosque; it was not about land but about a mosque. They have accepted that placing the idols in 1949 was desecration but the decision has still favoured the other party,” he said.
Jilani said that certain parts of the judgment “give an impression of further trouble in the future”.
Appealing for peace across the country, he said, “This is not somebody’s defeat or victory. We will adopt whatever legal course is possible. We appeal to everyone to maintain peace.”
The AIMPLB secretary, however, acknowledged that “parts of the judgment are very important for the secular fabric of the country”. “We may file a review petition within 30 days but we cannot say for certain now; a call will be taken after our legal team studies the judgment,” he said.
“We have a right to disagree with the judgment but will never say there was any pressure. Anybody can make a mistake. The top court has reviewed its judgment in many cases. If the working committee wants, we will go ahead with the review petition,” he added.
Rescuing image, claiming ownership: Why Facebook has a new company logo
Speaking on similar lines, advocate S R Shamshad said, “It seems that the court has exercised extraordinary powers to confer title, which we object to. This is a questionable judgment.”
He added, “It was necessary to fight this because we had to tell the world that we didn’t like the way the mosque was treated. We hope no future mosques will be touched; this is our expectation in a democratic country in a constitutional setup.”
Addressing the media later, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who is also a member of the board, said: “In my personal opinion, we should reject the five-acre land because this is a legal fight. As former CJI Justice Verma said, the top court is supreme not infallible. This country is becoming a Hindu Rashtra, they have started with Ayodhya, and will follow up with NRC, Citizenship Bill etc to that end.”
A visibly disheartened member of the board’s legal team described the verdict as “arbitrary” and said: “Is there really any point in asking for the review of a unanimous judgment? There is nobody who has dissented”.
Jilani said: “Article 142 does not allow you (SC) to do this. The court said that there is evidence of a 12th century temple but nothing to show what happened to that land between then and 1528. The Hindu side, on the other hand, claims that the temple is from Vikaramaditya’s era who was a contemporary of Jesus Christ but did not give any evidence for that.”
Article 370 issue:Larger bench only if conflict in earlier verdicts: SC
New Delhi, Jan 22: The Supreme Court Wednesday said it will refer the Article 370 issue to a larger 7-judge Constitution bench only if satisfied that there is a direct conflict in two earlier verdicts of the apex court which dealt with the matter.
Unless the petitioners are able to show a direct conflict between the two judgments — Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1959 and Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1970 — which dealt with the issue of Article 370, it is not going to refer the matter to a larger bench, the top court said.
Both the verdicts were given by 5-judge benches.
Hearing the point of reference on Wednesday, a 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Justices N V Ramana, was told by Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association that the Centre’s August 5 move last year to abrogate Article 370 was illegal and needed to be read down.
The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said: “You have to show us that there was direct conflict in two verdicts of apex court. Only then we will refer it to larger bench. You have to show us that there was direct conflict.”
Senior Advocate Zafar Ahmed Shah, appearing for the lawyers’ body said the Constitution of India and that of Jammu and Kashmir are parallel to each other and Article 370 was continuing.
He said that Sampat Prakash judgment of the apex court had specifically stated that in light of the continuance of the circumstances, Article 370 has to stay.
Shah said both the constitutions have been working hand in hand and sub clause (2) of Article 370 was there so that there is no conflict between them.
He said that in Jammu and Kashmir there was only Instrument of Accession and no standstill agreement or merger arguments.
“If any law had to be made in Jammu and Kashmir, it could only be done in consultation or concurrence with the state. Article 370 provided for concurrence and consultation. Doing away with Article 370, you have snapped ties with the state,” Shah said.
He sought reference of the issue to a larger bench of seven judges.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the NGO, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), also sought reference to a larger constitution bench of seven-judges.
The bench asked both Shah and Parikh to furnish by Thursday their submissions with regard to reference of the issue in view of the direct conflict between two verdicts of apex court.
The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on Thursday.
The top court was on Tuesday told by senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi that Article 370 of the Constitution was the only “tunnel of light” which maintained the relationship between the Centre and the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Petitioners challenging the Centre’s decision taken on August 5 last year to abrogate provisions of Article 370 contended that the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be repealed in exercise of powers under the Article, which gave special status to erstwhile state.
Dwivedi, appearing for an intervenor, Prem Shankar Jha, had said that the issue needs to be referred to a larger bench as there is a dispute between two judgments of a five-judge bench which dealt with provisions of Article 370.
The top court had said that before going into the matter it would first hear the submissions on reference.
Dealing with the Presidential orders of August 5, last year, Dwivedi had said due to these orders issued under Article 370 (1) and (3), all provisions of the Indian Constitution have been applied to Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was not created under the Constitution of India or Article 370 and therefore J&K constitution cannot be repealed in exercise of powers under Article 370.
Earlier, senior advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, Shehla Rashid and other petitioners, had argued that in the scheme of Article 370 while the democratic power is with the State, the executive power is with the Union government.
The top court had earlier raised a query as to who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The petitioners have referred to the provision and said that only the Constituent Assembly, which represents the will of the people, is empowered to make recommendation to the President on any changes in the special status of J&K.
A number of petitions have been filed in the matter including those of private individuals, lawyers, activists and political parties and they have also challenged the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which splits J&K into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Constitutional autonomy guaranteed right for J&K: Apex court told
New Delhi, Jan 22: Senior Advocate Zaffar Ahmed Shah, appearing for the Srinagar Bar Council, Wednesday commenced his submissions in the after-noon session before the 5-judge bench considering the validity of abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
He submitted that the story of the State could not be equated to others and the history of the State had to be borne in mind before any decision could be rendered.
While referring to the Instrument of Accession (IOA), Shah stated the IOA gives power to the Union to legislate on specifically three matters, i.e. defence, communication and external affairs. Clause 8 of the IOA allows the Rules to retain the “powers, authority and rights” except on those matters enumerated in the Schedule.
“What impacted the shape of Article 370? Why was Jammu and Kashmir treated as it is and not as a part of the Union like the other States?”
Shah delved into the history of the country and submitted that J&K, Junagadh and Hyderabad were the only the States left which had not readily acceded to the Union of India. However, the circumstances for J&K were different.
“In the case of all other States, there were primarily three documents which had been executed:
1. IOA – This meant that you have not fully seceded from the Union.
2. Standstill agreement – This meant that the state of affairs were to be at a standstill.
3. Merger agreement – This categorically entails that the life of the State comes to an end as it had fully merged with the Union.
In the case of J&K, there was only an IOA, and no standstill agreement or merger agreement.”, he explained.
On the basis of the aforementioned submission, if any law had to be legislated in J&K, it could only be done in consultation or concurrence with the State. Article 370 provided that whatever the legal effect was, this consultation/concurrence had to be taken. Therefore, apart from the three matters enumerated in the Schedule of the IOA, for the rest, the State had to be consulted.
In general, for other States, if the Parliament intended to legislate for a State, first a constitutional entry had to be made applicable to the State and then only the law could be legislated. However, Article 370 found a different way which left the legislation to the State Government. Therefore, there was a deliberate intention behind retainment of the Article; doing away with it would entail snapping ties with the State.
“This allows the State its own Constitution and allows it to regulate its own affairs. This is why we have a separate Constitution. Otherwise there would not have been any need. The framers of the Constitution understood that a need existed for separate provisions. We have a situation where we have two Constitutions functioning in parallel. There has been a conscious effort to continue this.”
Shah submitted that in order to avoid conflicts between the two Constitutions, the concept of concurrence came into being. The two Constitutions worked hand-in-hand. For instance, Presidential Order of 1953 modified the term in the Explanation from “Maharaja” to “Sadar-i-Riyasat”. However, before that modification took place, the Constitution of J&K was amended in order to avoid conflict.
With reference to Sampat Prakash decision, Shah stated that while the judgement envisioned Article 370 as a temporary provision, it also highlighted the fact that situation under which Constitution of J&K had been enacted, it had failed to change.
“So, on the basis of the situation, the provision is still continuing. Article 370 has to stay as long as the situation remains the same.”
Shah then expressed shock at the events which transpired on 05.08.2019, wherein the Presidential Order C.O. 272 was instituted whereby Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir Order, 1954 (and its subsequent amendments) were superseded and all provisions of the Constitution of India were to be applied to J&K. The question raised by Shah was that if this was indeed the case, then why did Article 368 (Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure therefor) not apply.
He also raised the issue regarding the substitution of the Constituent Assembly with the Legislative Assembly.
“The power of the CA is unlimited; its roots are in the will of the people. It is beyond challenge. How can they substitute it? The court will have to go into the depths of this issue. I am merely describing the contours of this controversy.”
He then proceeded to refer to the Santosh Gupta case wherein the Court had observed that the Constitution of J&K was subordinate to the Constitution of India. It also mentioned the issue of constitutional as well as parliament sovereignty. The Court had further observed that the vestige of sovereignty did not remain for any State.
With regard to that, Shah stated: “The Court observed that the vestige of sovereignty does not remain for any State. But, I submit that this does not hold true for the State of J&K. We have our constitutional autonomy. It is a guaranteed right for J&K. It is guaranteed by the Constitution of India as well as the framework and working of both the Constitutions. Similarly, Clause 8 of the IOA, starting with a non-obstante clause, also states that the sovereignty of the State is not affected.”
Shah then delineated the issue that being integral, in terms of the IOA, to the Union did not deposit in the Union the absolute power of governance; this was denoted by the existence of a separate Constitution. The power of governance continues to vest in the people of the State.
“It needs to be understood in the context of IOA. For governance, we will continue to have our power to legislate and this will be with our concurrence and consultation. Article 370 subsumes the sovereignty of the State. Within the framework of the Constitutions, you have yours and we have ours. This was the method which has been followed in the last 70 years.”
No private land for outside investors in J&K: Reddy
Ganderbal, Jan 22: Seemingly giving in to the public pressure, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy on Wednesday said investors desiring to setup industry in Jammu and Kashmir, will be allotted government land only.
“People need not to worry as only government land will be allotted to the investors for setting up their units. No private land shall be acquired for setting up industry by any outside investor,” Reddy said while addressing people at Mini-Secretariat, Beehama here.
As a part of Centre’s reach out programme, Reddy landed in Srinagar on Wednesday morning and straightaway headed to Ganderbal. He was flanked by Advisor to Lt. Governor, Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary Home Affairs, Shaleen Kabra, DDC, Ganderbal Hashmat Ali Khan and other officers.
Multiple delegations including Panches, Sarpanches, Block Development Council members and youth activists called on Reddy.
“Kashmir lagged behind because of the unabated corruption in the last 70 years. But now PM Modi led government is committed to equitable development, “he said.
The union minister said central government’s schemes will be properly utilized to benefit the people.
Enamored by Kashmir’s scenic beauty, Reddy recalled how famous Bollywood personalities used to visit Kashmir for shooting their movies.
“But for the last few years, very few films have been shot here. We will now create an environment so that more and more actors come to Kashmir for shooting movies,” he said.
Ready hailed the administration for successfully holding “free and fair” Block Development Council (BDC) polls in the state. Calling BDCs as “voice of people”, Reddy said they will redress the issues raised by them during the meeting.
Reddy also assured the PDD employees that despite Corporation taking over the power sector; it will have no bearing on them. “The Corporation is for the betterment of employees and people in particular,” he said.
Reddy later inaugurated eight new projects worth Rs 20.8 crores in Ganderbal.
He assured people that development, peace and economic prosperity would soon change fortunes of people in Jammu and Kashmir.
While addressing the gathering, Reddy said that the agenda to visit the place is to meet people, listen to their issues and come up with a developmental plan in all spheres.
The Minister distributed pension cards among the widows and downtrodden under Prime Minister’s Pension Yojana.
He said that the Union government has come up with the concept of Golden Card through which deserving segments of the society can afford the treatment of upto Rs 5 lakh. He said so far 3.5 lakh families have received this card in J&K.
In his address, the Minister assured the people of the area that the Union government is committed to develop villages on modern lines and electrification of all inhabited villages through the Saubhagya scheme is one step towards that.
The Minister later e-inaugurated multiple developmental projects in the district, with a total estimated cost of Rs 20.39 crores, which includes construction of multipurpose hall at Government Degree College, construction of mini pavilion block at sports stadium, construction of 100 bedded girls hostel, development of Nininara Island in the Manasbal Lake.
He also laid foundation stone for the construction of two lane byepass road from Ganderbal to Duderhama upto district head office complex, which he said was a long pending demand of people and will serve as a byepass to Kheerbawani temple. He said that road connectivity is imperative for growth and development of an area and the Centre is pushing hard towards it.