Demolition of the Babri Masjid 1992 | Getty Images
Demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 | Getty Images
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An emotive issue of its own accord, the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid matter in apex court gains greater significance ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

New Delhi: A five-judge constitution bench set up by the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana, U.U. Lalit and D.Y. Chandrachud, will begin hearing Thursday the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, or the Ayodhya case.

The bench will hope to resolve the decades-old dilemma at the heart of the dispute: Who owns the 2.77-acre plot where the 16th-century mosque was built and Hindu deity Ram is believed to have been born?

An emotive issue of its own accord, the matter gains greater significance as it is taken up by the apex court just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which stormed to office in 2014 on a manifesto where the Ram Mandir possessed pride of place, has been under pressure from within as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to issue an ordinance and go ahead with the construction of the temple.

Some allies, like the Shiv Sena, have openly called out the BJP for failing to construct the temple despite having formed a majority government.

The BJP, which has officially said it will wait for the court verdict to forge ahead with the construction, enters the poll season on this note.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a recent interview to ANI, insisted that his government will await the Supreme Court’s decision, but nevertheless blamed the Congress for obstructing the progress of the case in court.


Also read: Mumbai to Ayodhya, Shiv Sena re-connects with its hardline Hindutva past via Delhi


The dispute

The Ram Janmabhoomi title suit long predates the 6 December 1992 Babri Masjid demolition that thrust India into deep communal frenzy.

It was first taken to court in 1950. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court finally issued a verdict, dividing the land equally between two Hindus – representing Lord Ram and the Nirmohi Akhara — and one Muslim party, the Sunni Waqf Board.

As many as 15 appeals were filed to this judgment, and it is these that the Supreme Court bench will take up.


Also read: In Jerusalem, I saw a reflection of Ayodhya


The Ismail Faruqui judgment

On 28 September, the apex court, in a majority 2:1 judgment, declined to refer its 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment to a larger bench.

The 1994 ruling — which allowed the central government to acquire the disputed 2.77 acres — held that praying in mosques is not an essential religious practice in Islam, and the Sunni Waqf Board claimed that it prejudiced the Ram Janmabhoomi case against it.

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  1. “On 28 September, the apex court, in a majority 2:1 judgment, declined to refer its 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment to a larger bench.

    “The 1994 ruling — which allowed the central government to acquire the disputed 2.77 acres — held that praying in mosques is not an essential religious practice in Islam, and the Sunni Waqf Board claimed that it prejudiced the Ram Janmabhoomi case against it.”

    The above is a quote from the present article. The same writer, Ritika Jain, had written in THE PRINT on a related subject on 27 September 2018. I wish quote from my comment to that article:

    “Out of general curiosity, I googled for the “Ismail Faruqui Judgement” that is mentioned in this article. I am copy-pasting the initial portions of the Order, only the first two points of it. You would notice that the order quotes from Jonathan Swift, and Swami Vivekananda. If the honorable judges were fond of citing quotations to push their argument, why didn’t they find a quotation from the Quran which would be more relevant to the case? Anyway, I am no one to comment on the judges’ judgement, but I thought I would bring this to the attention of fellow readers of this article. The Order is a long one, but I did glimpse at the whole, couldn’t understand much, but the word “Quran” wasn’t mentioned anywhere. Have a look:
    ——-

    Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui Etc, Mohd. … vs Union Of India And Others on 24 October, 1994
    Equivalent citations: AIR 1995 SC 605 A
    Bench: M V Verma, G Ray, S Bharucha

    ORDER

    “1. We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” – Jonathan Swift

    2. Swami Vivekananda said –

    Religion is not in doctrines, in dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation; it is being and becoming, it is realisation.

    This thought comes to mind as we contemplate the roots of this controversy. Genesis of this dispute is traceable to erosion of some fundamental values of the plural commitments of our polity…”
    ——-
    (End of my quote about that Order)

    The important point is, in the Ismail Faruqui case, the judges were deliberating on whether praying in mosques is an essential part of religious practices of Islam or not. If such was their subject, then why did the learned judges of that 1995 case NOT EVEN ONCE REFER TO THE QURAN, OR PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S HADITH IN THEIR ENTIRE JUDGMENT? If they were searching for something in the religious practices of Islam, then how could they ignore these two ONLY SOURCES on Islam? Which other source would have told them what are the religious practices of Islam?

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