Friday, September 18, 2020
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Modi government’s petition in Ram Janmabhoomi case: A simple yet potent step towards construction of Ram Temple

Every trick in the book of shrewd civil lawyers has been and is being tried to delay a verdict in the matter.

The civil suit for Ram Janmabhoomi is going on since 1949, but the legal battle for Ram Janmabhoomi is going on since 1882 when Mahant Raghubar Das moved petition in the Court of the Faizabad Collector. Action, inaction, drama, despair, suspense- the Courtroom battle for the Ram Janmabhoomi has seen it all.

Every trick in the book of shrewd civil lawyers has been and is being tried to delay a verdict in the matter. Who can forget an eleventh-hour frivolous petition in the Supreme Court pleading for a compromise with a prayer to stop Allahabad High Court from pronouncing its verdict which was to contain findings of facts regarding the existence of a temple at the relevant site?

As the appeal proceedings have dragged on in the Apex Court since 2010 and with the end of the first term of Modi Government approaching near, widespread anxiety could be felt in the Hindu society about the ultimate fate of the matter which has further been excruciated by rather scandalous interference of left-wing lawyers. Hindus who had initially watched with some bewilderment, the unprecedented Press Conference by the Lords in gowns is now able to see through the game.

So there are anxious calls to bring an ordinance or bill to bring an end to the seemingly endless ordeal amidst the matter being shifted to constitutional bench from the division bench which means that the matter is no more being treated as just an appeal to a title suit. Now Constitutional issues are being included which was the demand of Muslim side’s lawyer Mr Dushyant Dave, who throughout the last year, essentially argued at length as to how secularism should supercede the outcome of title suit.

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It is no more about the title to a piece of land as we have been told again and again. It is about sustaining Babur’s Jihadist legacy in the name of secularism, matters of fact may go to hell. In other words, it is Leftist-Islamist ploy to keep Hindu society embarrassed and frustrated about its history, its political and civilizational abilities. The basic rule of the game is that the spread of Left is inversely proportional to the Hindu resurgence.

Even if a new brick is laid down in the name of construction of the Ram Temple, Hindus will become confident about the political approach they had taken by choosing Prime Minister Modi in 2014. Congress, Left, Islamists everyone knows this very well. Hence, Mr Sibal’s suggestion was to delay the verdict beyond the 2019 general elections.

Now by moving a petition in the Supreme Court asking for the vacation of stay over the 67-acre undisputed land surrounding the plot which is the actual subject matter of title suit, Modi Government has initiated the most simple yet most potent legal step to pave way for the start of construction of the grand Ram Temple.

The story of this undisputed 67 acres of land is quite interesting. After the demolition of Babri Mosque, Narasimha Rao Government acquired this surrounding land through the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993 in the name of “maintenance of public order and harmony between the different communities”. This surrounding undisputed land stands vested in the Government of India.

Section 6 of this Act empowers the Central Government to direct the vesting of this land in “any authority or body or trust” through a simple notification in the official gazette. Muslim side challenged the constitutionality of this act in the Supreme Court which held the Act to be constitutionally valid. But at the same time, the Supreme Court imposed an injunction even on this undisputed land by way of maintenance of status quo order till the final disposal of the title suit regarding the relevant Ram Janmabhoomi site.

This order has created a queer and legally extraordinary situation. Consider a situation where a court dispute is in the process over a house in your residential colony and government acquires the whole colony. Then, the court gives an order that nobody can do any construction, renovation in the colony until the case over one house reaches its conclusion! This is the situation in Ayodhya since 1993.

Then there is another constitutional issue involved which puts a question mark on the functioning of the constitutional system on the whole. When the Supreme Court holds a law to be valid, preventing its enforcement cannot be said to be constitutionally just. In simple terms, if the Court accepts that section 420 of IPC declaring cheating as an offence is constitutionally valid, it cannot issue a general order that nobody in the country should be booked for cheating.

The court could have held Ayodhya Acquisition Act constitutionally invalid. But as it has been held as valid, a status quo order should not come in way of implementation of such a law. And what does this law say? Section 6 of this Act empowers the Central government to hand over the acquired 67 acres land or any part thereof to any authority, body or trust just by means of a simple notification in the Official Gazette.

Not allowing Central government to exercise its powers under an act held to be constitutionally valid is in itself a constitutional crisis. And this crisis is being perpetuated since 1994. This also creates a larger constitutional issue and a very bad precedent. Judiciary has the power to strike down a law passed by the Parliament for being violative of the constitution. But in this case, a law is not being allowed to be enforced despite being in consonance with the Constitution. Then what is the point of legislature doing even a perfectly constitutional thing?

Now after Modi Government’s petition in Ram Janmabhoomi case, pessimists are raising many questions: what if Supreme Court strikes it down? What if the hearing on this too gets dragged on for years? Pessimism is perfectly justified. In 2002, VHP had asked for permission to perform shila daan ceremony at this undisputed land which was denied by the Supreme Court. Shila daan had to be performed outside this land. Emboldened Islamists had attacked Kar Sevaks in Godhra who were returning from Ayodhya.

The question then is what are the options before the Central Government if the Supreme Court refuses to lift the status quo. Well, Parliament should come forward to enforce its writ. No arm of the State could be allowed to paralyse the functioning of the system established by the Constitution.

When the law passed by it is valid, its enforcement could not be stopped. Parliament can pass a resolution addressing this constitutional crisis. Every political party should be made to clear its stand. In 2007, then Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had refused to accept summons issued to Lok Sabha by the Supreme Court saying that the Apex Court could not be allowed to assume the role on Parliament.

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Divya Kumar Soti
Lawyer, Columnist, Strategic Affairs Analyst, Researcher. History and National security.

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