Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Contributing Editor, The Indian Express
The Indian Express
In light of the Ayodhya verdict, Mehta is reminded of the birth of Ramayana and how Ram’s political triumphs are “not always the moment that he is morally redeemed, or made whole”. After the Supreme Court declared that Ram has the “sovereign rights to 2.77 acres of disputed land”, he has “triumphed politically”.
The Supreme Court had a “difficult job on its hands” and the only two other options were “a victory for the Hindu side, or some imaginative solution that did equal justice to all kinds of claims involved in this dispute”. This judgement has gone for a “corner solution” wherein “none of the claimants can prove adverse possession” but “it does recognise that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was an act of political vandalism”.
Mehta raises the question of whether “this moment of political triumph solve Ram’s inner torment? Or will it only exacerbate it?” There are three fronts to be nervous about — psychological, institutional and political.
First, this has been a moment of “long historical struggle for Hindu nationalists” who identified themselves as “subjugated”. Second, though we “respect the unanimous view of the Supreme Court”, one should not forget that the court’s “credibility” is also in doubt. Mehta hopes that India “moves on” and that it would “save both secularism from identification with majoritarianism and Hinduism from identification with a prideful communal identity”.
Faizan Mustafa | Vice-Chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad
Aymen Mohammed | Research scholar, NALSAR University of Law
The Indian Express
Mustafa and Mohammed argue that the Supreme Court “has tried to please everyone” with its verdict on the Ayodhya dispute. The court “has rejected the Hindu right’s narrative on the Babri mosque” and this “false narrative” was “responsible for galvanising ordinary Hindus”, but also gave “legitimacy to divisive electoral politics”.
Further, “Muslim grievances about the trespass in 1949 and the tragic demolition of the mosque in 1992” have also been accepted by the court.
They note that the phrase “status quo means the situation at the time of the judgement must not be changed” but this is a “story of changing status quo”. This judgement will be “remembered for the victory of faith over the rule of law” because the Supreme Court “considered religious beliefs even in deciding a property dispute”.
This was “despite conceding that faith cannot confer title, it still went ahead to give property to worshippers on the basis of faith”.
This is the “red letter day for the constitutional right to religion but a setback” to property law and evidence law “with differential burden of proof being demanded from different parties”.
Ram Madhav | National General Secretary, BJP
The Indian Express
Now that the “legal hurdles have been removed by the Supreme Court”, the Ram temple at Ayodhya “will soon be a reality”. Madhav argues that “symbols of vandalism and iconoclasm at the most sacred places of Hindu” has been a “very big source of embarrassment as the sentiments associated with such places are quite deep-rooted”.
He suggests that it might be “instructive” for Muslims to “remember that Islam came to India from West Asia not just riding over the shoulders of invaders” like Mahmud of Ghazni, Babur etc. On the other hand, Hindus may also be “making a mistake if they look at Ayodhya from a religious prism or from the prism of avenging historical wrongs”.
Ram “epitomises values like respect, love and dignity” and these values are reserved for everyone “including the enemies”.
Madhav hopes that with the “rise of the Ram temple, this country shall see lasting peace and harmony”.
Shobaa De | Writer
The Times of India
De raises the question of whether the verdict on the Ayodhya dispute “would have been any different” if there had been “a female representation arguing and discussing the complexities” of the case.
She argues that “most citizens are plain bewildered” since it is “not a simple land dispute and the case’s “connotations go beyond title deeds and ownership issues”.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai “people were busy making weekend plans” and “movies won over Ayodhya and Babri Masjid”. She clarifies that “this is not a reflection of indifference or apathy” rather its “Mumbai at its most pragmatic”.
She questions whether the judgement is a “salve or more salt”. The “lordships have done a stupendous and very difficult job” and have “stuck their necks out and placed their heads on the chopping block of public judgement”. De maintains that “we respect them immensely for taking on one of the worst legal battles on earth”.
In the end, she argues that the “only way to move from this point, is forward” with “optimism and hope”.
Aakar Patel | Writer and Columnist
The Times of India
In light of the Supreme Court’s concluding statement on the Ayodhya verdict, “on a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims”. Patel poses a question for the SC bench that passed the order on the Babri masjid judgement — “what is our Supreme Court saying? That discretion and vandalism must be rewarded because India is a secular country?”
He claims that he is “unable to figure out the logic and the jurisprudence that links the findings of the court and its conclusions”.
India’s Supreme Court has “taken the ultimatum” given by Hindutva leaders and “legitimised it”. Patel states that the “high-minded secular rhetoric of the judgement is dislocated from the majoritarian edge in its ruling”.
Badri Narayan | Professor, Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad
The Ayodhya verdict “brings the curtain down on a long and turbulent campaign spearheaded by the BJP-RSS” for the construction of the Ram temple. Narayan notes that the Ram Janmabhoomi “as an issue was alive until this morning and subject of political debate” but “it ceased being the mass movement of the 1990s long ago”.
Through the movement, BJP “used the opportunity to expand its base from the upper castes to the middle and lower castes of Hindu society”. They also “exploited the presence of Ram in Hindu consciousness in oral, aural, visual and ritualistic form to fuel the movement”.
Narayan argues that the BJP-RSS used the “mythical narratives of Ram to associate MBC, OBC and Dalit castes” with the movement. They also used Hanuman as a “symbolic character” to “expand their base among tribals”. He maintains that the “sum and substance is that the BJP has used” the movement “very effectively to build and sustain a political base that cuts across castes and communities”.