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Did Narendra Modi say he will overturn court’s verdict if not in favour of Ram Temple? Pretty much!

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually said that his government will overturn the Supreme Court's decision if it's not in favour of building Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

Construction of a temple at Ram Janmbhoomi in Ayodhya is a long-held promise by the ruling BJP, and its critics, as well as supporters, often remind the leaders of its promise. For a long time, the party had to put the Ram Mandir issue on the backburner because the allies in NDA were not comfortable supporting the demand unconditionally.

In the run-up to 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP has promised to “explore all possibilities within the constitutional framework to facilitate construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya” in its election manifesto. Although the theme of the campaign was broadly around good governance and development and the pre-poll rallies didn’t see invoking the temple issue on a large scale, the issue was never forgotten by people, especially by a core section of supporters.

The demand for a temple of Lord Ram at Ayodhya is gaining steam again and a question regarding the same was put by ANI Editor Smita Prakash to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier today. Prakash asked whether BJP was planning to bring in an ordinance in the Ram Temple case just like it did in the Triple Talaq case. The answer by Prime Minister Modi was very interesting.

He said that the ordinance on Triple Talaq was brought in after the Supreme Court judgement on the matter was delivered. Not before the judgement was delivered. He said that even in the BJP manifesto they have mentioned that within the constitutional bounds, BJP will find a solution to the (Ayodhya) issue. He also said that it is undeniable that the parties in power after independence have tried their best to derail this issue. Today, the issue is almost reaching its conclusion. He then said that Congress, through its lawyers should stop delaying this issue and creating obstacles. He then said that Congress should let the process of the law take its course and once the legal process is over, the government “is willing to do what is needed”.

While his “willing to do what is needed” can be taken as a promise, a careful reading of his statement reveals that it’s more than just a promise. Prime Minister Modi has said something that should make the ‘liberal’ and ‘Lutyens’ crowd go howling in unison.

Prime Minister essentially said that his government will wait for the court order, and by inference he hopes that the court order will be favourable, paving way for construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

He talks about ordinance or possible lawmaking “after” the legal process is complete. This can easily be inferred that he essentially said that if the court order is unfavourable, an ordinance can be “then” brought in to pave way for construction of the Ram Temple.

Essentially, the court’s order will be overturned.

Legal experts believe that the Prime Minister’s statement can be interpreted this way. Supreme Court Lawyer Sai Deepak said that an ordinance can indeed be brought to neutralise any unfavourable verdict by the court. He also said that the Prime Minister is being prudent by not taking the ordinance route while the matter is pending in the apex court of the county.

“The Ramjanmabhoomi case is essentially a civil suit wherein two parties are asserting title over a piece of immovable property. This is the legal nature of the dispute notwithstanding the religious sentiments involved. The proceeding before the Supreme Court is in the nature of a civil appeal from the verdict of the three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court which ruled in favour of the party which established that there existed a Ram Temple that was demolished to make way for the disputed structure called the Masjid-e-Janmsthan. During the pendency of the proceeding before the Supreme Court, it would be improper to bring in an ordinance. This is perhaps why the Prime Minister spoke of considering that option after the pronouncement of the verdict by the Apex court. There is a precedent to support this, such as The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which was brought in by the Rajiv Gandhi Government to dilute the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Shah Bano case,” Advocate J Sai Deepak said.

Therefore, Prime Minister has essentially promised that if his government is there while Supreme Court comes up with the verdict on Ayodhya, no matter what the verdict is, Ram Temple will be built at the site.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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