ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

The Verdict on AyodhyaSubscribe to The Verdict on Ayodhya

Issues of Faith

For those who have chosen to explore the implications of the Allahabad High Court's verdict on the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid dispute, one of the issues that have been particularly troubling is the question of faith. What is faith? What are the contexts in which it is invoked? And why are some of the implications of such invocations matters of concern? This paper focuses on the narrow perspective from which the richness and diversity of Hindu beliefs and practices have been represented in the verdict. Though many feel that the Ayodhya verdict has been successful in maintaining peace and harmony in turbulent times, what is distressing are the circuitous, even blatantly partisan, ways in which faith has been brought centre stage within legal discourse.

Was There a Temple under the Babri Masjid? Reading the Archaeological 'Evidence'

As witnesses to a major part of the excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India at the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid site in Ayodhya in 2003, the authors detail the many irregularities and outdated methods they observed. They also refer to the objections they filed regarding some of the procedures followed by the asi, as well as the objections to its Final Report on the excavations. In several ways, it was obvious that the asi was operating with a preconceived notion of discovering the remains of a temple beneath the demolished mosque, even selectively altering the evidence to suit its hypothesis. The authors stress that there is little doubt that the kind of archaeology practised by the statist asi, where archaeologists see themselves primarily as bureaucrats, suffers from a serious absence of academic engagement and training.

Dissecting the Ayodhya Judgment

Judged by the opinion of the two judges who constituted the real, as distinguished from the ostensible, majority of the three-member special full bench of the Allahabad High Court, the 30 September 2010 verdict in the Babri masjid title suits qualifies, in every sense, to be described as the judicial equivalent of the Ram janmabhoomi movement, which has had a highly "creative" character. Religious imagination and fervour have served to make up for a deficit of rationality, logic and historical evidence, with clerics turning into historians and judges becoming clerics. A close examination of the judgment shows much of it stands on flimsy legal grounds, and it would hardly be tenable if not supported by some very specious reasoning.

Secularism and the Indian Judiciary

The judgment of the Allahabad High Court of 30 September 2010 in the Babri masjid-Ram janmabhoomi case has put the final seal on the acts of installation of statues and demolition of the mosque. In accordance with our constitutional scheme one seeks remedial measures from the judiciary when the executive or even the legislature commits illegal acts. But what can one do when the judiciary itself commits unlawful acts? What is worse is that this verdict is the latest addition to a series of judgments by the highest courts in India which cast doubt on the secular character of the Indian judicial system.

Idols in Law

The findings and orders of the special full bench of the Allahabad High Court on the successful Bhagwan Sri Ram suit and the dismissed Wakf Board suit demand close examination. Central to the final order are two findings - that the disputed site in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Ram, and that it is a juridical entity. Both conclusions are of extremely doubtful legal tenability. In addition, it is on the basis of the dubious legal proposition of faith and belief that the court arrives at a finding of legal and lawful ownership. The placing of idols in the disputed site in 1949 was as much an act of illegality as the events of 6 December 1992, but the court gingerly steps around them. In short, its September 2010 verdict surrenders judicial soundness and integrity for political expedience.
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