Ayodhya: another six decades for a new verdict?
And after all the heat and dust, it took a simple statement from the Supreme Court to end decades of turmoil and tension. Staying the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the High Court had granted a “new relief” that nobody had asked for and termed the order “strange”.
“The High Court’s judgment is something strange,” the two-judge bench
comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha said. “A new dimension has been given by the High Court as the decree of partition was not sought by the parties. It was not prayed for by anyone. It has to be stayed. It’s a strange order. How can a decree for partition be passed when none of the parties had prayed for it? It’s strange. Such kind of decrees cannot be allowed to be in operation. It is a difficult situation now. The position is that the High Court verdict has created a litany of litigation.”
So, after 61 years of legal battle that climaxed on September 30, 2010, the Supreme Court has reverted to status quo, as directed by a 1994 Constitution Bench.
In an earlier post on the subject, I wrote that the High Court verdict had moved away from the confines of law to the realm of theology. “The deity (Ram) also attained the divinity like Agni, Vayu, Kedarnath,” Justice Dharam Veer Sharma wrote in his judgement. “Asthan is personified as the spirit of divine…”
I had argued then that because a judgement becomes law, it “cannot be beliefs or faiths, it needs a disinterested look at tangibles. As Sharma, the individual that he has become from today (he retires on October 1), he is entitled to any opinion or observation — just as you and I are. But from Justice Sharma, we expect substantiation, based on concrete evidence.”
By dividing the property into three parts — Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara had been declared joint title holders of the property — the High Court went beyond the ambit of law, perhaps to prevent another round of riots. A noble gesture no doubt, but not legally tenable.
The Supreme Court, by staying this verdict, has moved for a deeper application of mind. Question is: for how long will we wait for the new judgement?
Here’s a quick recap of and run up to the September 30 High Court judgement: