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25 years on, the ‘Other’ Ayodhya case is yet to come to conclusion

While there was a strong political will behind the Ayodhya land dispute case, the Babri Masjid Demolition case is still pending and there are no signs of it being speeded up.

Saturday, 9/11/2019, was marked as a momentous day in the pages of Indian history as the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the Ayodhya title suit case. The case was pending in Supreme Court for almost nine years since 2011 but it was only in 2019 under CJI Ranjan Gogoi, the daily hearing began in the case on August 6. The marathon hearing spanned for 40 days and on October 16, the stakeholders presented their concluding arguments before the constitutional bench of five judges including CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice SA Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer.
On November 9, the five judges gave out the 1045-paged unanimous verdict. However, the judges pointed out at the highlights in half an hour while pronouncing the verdict. When the supreme court started hearing this case, it said that it will only hear about the land dispute and not the other facet of the case. The case that paved the way for a political and social shift in India was for the 2.77 acres of land which was in dispute.
Supreme Court Observation
On Saturday, the court said that there are pieces of evidence that show that the Babri masjid was not constructed on vacant land. There was an underlying structure and that structure was not Islamic.
Supreme Court also cited the Archeological Survey of India report. About 15 years ago, ASI excavated the disputed land on the orders of the Allahabad High Court. the structure found was scientifically tested by the ASI team. After this, it was claimed that there were remains of an ancient Hindu temple under the disputed structure. The Hindu also side argued that there were carvings of deities, Hindu religious symbols on stone pillars under the disputed site.
Supreme Court said that Books and ancient texts were written by ancient travellers indicate that Ayodhya has been the birthplace of Lord Rama. Historical examples also indicate that Ayodhya has been the birthplace of Lord Rama in the faith of Hindus.
Supreme Court judgement
So in the verdict, the Supreme Court said that the land should be given to Ram Lalla Virajman-one of the stakeholders. A trust should be formed by the centre which will take care of the temple construction. Muslims, on the other hand, be given 5-acre land elsewhere in Ayodhya to build a mosque.
After the judgement came out a lot of people hoped that this would be an end to the Ayodhya conflict. and why not, the entire Ayodhya episode the rath yatra, the ram janmabhoomi movement and the Babri masjid demolition, and the violence and terror attacks after that- India witnessed an era of violence which is the bloodiest spot on Indian history. All of that ending after a decade long conflict, who wouldn’t want that? But can we call yesterday’s verdict a closure?
The ‘other’ Ayodhya case
A very few people might even remember about this. There exists another Ayodhya case which is yet to be brought to the conclusion. The title suit case, given the fact that it was the second-longest-running case and was pending from 7 decades, received the maximum coverage. TV channels- you would know the debates would be centred around ram mandir, every time the court set a new date for hearing in the title suit, the Ayodhya fervour would be back on TV.
Now that the verdict is out, everyone seems to be talking about how the temple would be built but nobody is really asking when will the other case come to conclusion.
The case that was filed after the demolition of Babri masjid in 1992. In 1993 CBI filed a joint chargesheet against 40 accused which included a number of BJP leaders, VHP, RSS leaders ShivSena leaders some of them were also mentioned in the Liberhan report. Allahabad court later in 2010 upheld the decision of Special CBI court to drop the conspiracy charges. But unlike the title suit case, this case didn’t move forward with speed. It was only after 25 years since the demolition, in 2017 the supreme court reinstated the conspiracy charges and directed a sessions court in Lucknow to hold daily hearings and deliver a judgment within two years.

Liberhan Report

On the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs, you will see a page of  Liberhan Ayodhya Commission. You can read all the documentation of about 1000 or more pages. This report was prepared by Justice Liberhan on the Babri Masjid demolition. The commission was asked to prepare the report within three months but it dragged on for record 17 years and finally was submitted to then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in June 2009.
In the conclusion of the report, the Liberhan Commission named the individuals who were found culpable by the commission in the Babri masjid demolition episode. It names 68 people culpable which includes Senior BJP leader LK Advani who spearheaded the Rath Yatra. It names former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Ashok Singhal, Uma Bharti, Kalraj Mishra who is now governor of Rajasthan under Modi govt, Lal Ji Tandon-Current governor of Madhya Pradesh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Praveen togadiya, Vinay katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara etc.
Why does nobody care about the Babri Masjid Demolition case?
The daily hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case was over in 40 days. However, the other Ayodhya case even after two years of supreme court order hasn’t come to a conclusion. The case was to be wrapped up earlier this year but it was given a new deadline that is April 2020. Special Judge S.K. Yadav is presiding over the trial. He was to retire in Sept­ember 30, but Supreme court extended his tenure till the completion of the trial. Now let alone the conclusion, those summoned n the case witness, accused they rarely show up or make an appearance. Several of them are already dead. Advani, sadhvi Ritambara have appeared in the court only once when the charges were framed on them in 2017. They are on bail now and yet to be cross-examined.

 

The difference between both the cases was that behind the title suit case, there was a strong political will, whereas the Babri Masjid Demolition case is still pending and there are no signs of it being speeded up. There is no political will to bring this case to its conclusion. More surprising, is even the Muslim side is not really bothered about this case. There are no two questions that India accepts the verdict of the supreme court in the land dispute case. But isn’t time that we as a secular democratic country throw our weight behind speedy trial in the other Ayodhya case to wipe away, if not to completely wash away, the dark spot on India’s secular history?

 

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