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HomeOpinionAIMPLB’s Ayodhya review petition will be futile. Muslims must accept verdict gracefully

AIMPLB’s Ayodhya review petition will be futile. Muslims must accept verdict gracefully

Asking for a review of the Supreme Court decision on Ayodhya could reopen the question of Kashi and Mathura mosque as well.

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The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s review petition against the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict will be both futile and imprudent. It is highly unlikely that the AIMPLB will succeed in getting the Supreme Court to reverse its unanimous judgment awarding the disputed land to Hindus for the construction of a Ram Mandir. To expect the Supreme Court to make any changes to a decision on such a sensitive issue and which involved the current Chief Justice of India is foolhardy.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) should leave it to the Sunni Waqf Board (SWB), which was a party to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute, to decide whether a review petition should be filed and whether to accept the Supreme Court’s offer of five acres of land in Ayodhya for Muslims to  construct a mosque.

Early media reports had indicated that the Waqf Board was inclined to accept the verdict as well as the offer of land. However, in a statement on 15 November, the Waqf Board chairman Zafar Ahmad Farooqui said: “Though AIMPLB was not a party in the Ayodhya case, it would be right to give importance to its views as it is the supreme body of Muslims in the country”.

Also read: Muslim law board’s move to file review plea against Ayodhya verdict splits community

AIMPLB’s overreach

It will be imprudent for the Waqf Board to give in to the AIMPLB’s demands for several reasons.

First, the AIMPLB was not a party to the Ayodhya litigation and has no locus standi in the matter.

Second, despite its claim to the contrary, the AIMPLB does not represent the sentiment of the Muslim community at large. It is certainly not “the supreme body of Muslims in the country”. In fact, it is far from being a genuine representative of Muslim opinion because it is dominated by self-selected clerics and irresponsible politicians like AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi who are often antediluvian and self-centred in their approach to social and political issues affecting India’s Muslims.

Third, interfering in sensitive matters such as the Ayodhya dispute was never a part of the AIMPLB’s brief when it was set up in 1973. A group consisting mostly of clerics established it to counter the demand for a Uniform Civil Code. Whether one agrees with the AIMPLB’s views on the subject or not, it is clear that it was established only to prevent a uniform civil code from supplanting Muslim Personal Law. Over the years, the AIMPLB has exceeded its brief and dabbled in various issues that it had no right to. Its attempt to interpose itself in the Ayodhya dispute is the latest example of this approach.

Also read: Why Mathura or Varanasi temple disputes won’t go the Ayodhya way

Why a review petition mustn’t be filed

Giving in to the decision of the AIMPLB and filing a review petition against the Ayodhya verdict will be politically counterproductive. It can be argued, and many people have done so eloquently that the Supreme Court’s decision was full of internal contradictions. These incongruities were evident in light of the fact that the Supreme Court, while accepting the illegality of the installation of idols inside the Babri Masjid in 1949 and the demolition of the mosque in 1992, rejected the claim that it was a mosque.

However, in the final analysis, the Ayodhya dispute was not merely a judicial issue but also one of significant political import. Any other decision could have led to serious breach of peace and loss of life and property. In view of this contingency, for Muslims to accept the Ayodhya verdict gracefully would be an act of great prudence. Otherwise, the community could be blamed for any mayhem that may ensue.

This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the Ayodhya judgment makes specific reference to the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which makes it mandatory that the character of all other places of worship must be maintained exactly as it was on 15 August 1947, thus precluding challenges, especially, to the mosques in Kashi and Mathura. Asking for a review of the decision could bring into question this part of the judgment as well.

The author is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University. Views are personal.

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  1. 25.11.19

    1. This is an interesting viewpoint. One does not know whether it is acceptable to many among the Indian Muslim community but non-political citizen-voters like me feel that educated Muslims should reconsider their support to the fundamentalists in Indian Muslim community. 2. I wish to take this opportunity to submit my views on the Ayodhya verdict and related issues. 3. All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has decided to adopt a confrontational view of the Supreme Court verdict in Ayodhya case, it means there will be more legal battles. 4. In case of Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue, my view is that the Indian Muslim leadership could have made a settlement-cum-compromise offer long back. This way the Muslim leadership could have settled many non-Ayodhya temple issues as well. But fact is that a section of Indian Muslim community preferred a legal fight right up to the Supreme Court. Perhaps, their assumption was that they could win. 5. Is it not true that all these years ‘secularism’ based politics of the Congress has failed to create a truly secular country. This has happened because secularism has been wrongly interpreted to mean protection of minorities. 6. In the context of the Supreme Court verdict in Ayodhya case, I feel that AIMPLB can learn a lesson or two. Lesson is that though India is a secular country, minorities, and particularly Muslims, cannot expect to make undue political or other gains at cost of the majority. 7. It is now the right time for the leadership of Indian Muslims to do some critical self-introspection. In context of the Ayodhya verdict and current political scenario in India, my queries are as follows: (a) should Muslims as also the Hindus use religion for electoral politics? (b) Why can’t Muslim leadership join hands with the majority on issues like illiteracy, poverty or democratic rights or common civil laws? 7. We should not shy away from a free and frank discussion on issues arising out of the Ayodhya verdict.

  2. Proposition A in the headline is true. However, Proposition B does not follow as a logical corollary. As Dr Kissinger used to say, Moderation is considered a virtue in those who are thought to have an option. If a feeling grows among the majoritarians that the minorities can do no more than Grin and bear it, that will lead to continuing provocations till something snaps. Both prudence and statesmanship require a more mature response for the future. 2. The only way one can justify the Ayodhya verdict in one’s mind is that the apex court decided to lay to rest one of the most intractable faith related disputes of our time to rest, in the larger national interest. There are enough observations in the judgment to send out a message : We are pulling out this chestnut from the fire. Don’t put any more into it.

    • But the supreme court could also have laid “to rest one of the most intractable faith related disputes of our time” by giving the disputed site to Muslims!

        • Maybe if your home was destroyed by a mob and then you went through a court battle the court gave your home and land to the mob you would feel different! There is no Ram nor was he ever alive or born at the site!

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