M A I N   N E W S

SC puts off Ayodhya verdict for a week
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 23
A two-member Bench of the Supreme Court today restrained the Allahabad High Court from delivering its verdict on the Ayodhya dispute for a week after one of the judges felt the highest court of the country should not be allowed to be blamed for miffing a chance to ensure peace.

Justice RV Raveendran, who headed the Bench, was for allowing the Lucknow Bench of the HC to go ahead with the verdict -- originally slated for 1530 hrs tomorrow -- by rejecting a retired bureaucrat’s plea for a stay due to security concerns. The Judge said he did not see any point in another attempt at reconciliation as such efforts had failed for 60 years.

Justice HL Gokhale (other member of the Bench), however, told two of the 28 parties to the dispute whose counsel were present in the court that “you will be the first people to blame us” if the HC verdict led to law and order problem. “There is no need for imagination. We know what happened in the past,” the Judge remarked (referring to the nationwide riots following the demolition of Babri Masjid ).

Justice Gokhale also felt that reconciliation would become all the more difficult in the event of the HC verdict going in the favour of any party to the dispute as this litigant would be under great pressure to protect all it gained from the bitterly fought case on the title suit to the disputed Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi site.

Dictating the order after hour-long arguments in the packed open court, Justice Raveendran said whenever the judges on a Division Bench held contrary views on the action to be taken in a case, the opinion in favour of stay and notice prevailed. So, “there shall be interim stay for a week”.

The Bench fixed the next hearing for September 28, ahead of the expiry of the one-week stay, as one of the three HC Judges who were to deliver the verdict would retire by the end of the month. The HC would not be in a position to deliver the verdict if the stay was vacated after his retirement. In that event, the HC Bench would have to be reconstituted and the case heard afresh for a verdict.

The SC also issued notice to all the 28 parties to the case, besides Attorney General GE Vahanvati, who has been asked to be present in the court on September 28. There is a possibility of the Bench being enlarged for the September 28 hearing due to the differing views of the two Judges, legal experts opine.

Two of the main contestants -- Mahant Dharam Das, legal heir of late Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans of the Ram temple and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board -- opposed the plea for stay and giving another chance for reconciliation.

Through their senior counsel, Ravishankar Prasad and Anoop Chowdhry, they argued that the plea for stay was being made by the retired official, Ramesh Chand Tripathi, who failed to take part in the HC proceedings and, therefore, was not a “serious player” and had no stake in the case.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioner, however, said as the issue involved the security of millions and millions of people, anybody was free to approach the court.

Justice Gokhale said if something went wrong it would be the common man who would be most affected, and not the parties to the dispute.

Justice Raveendran, however, refused to accept the arguments that the stay was necessary to prevent violence. “Why do you think people of this country are immature? It is unfortunate everyone is assuming that there will be violence,” he said.





They want matter to end at high court
Aditi Tandon writes from Ayodhya

Thursday was an unusual day at Ayodhya, as two top representatives of Muslim and Hindu sentiments in the 60-year-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute came together to put the nation above religion and said the Allahabad High Court order, whenever it came, would be final for them.

The voices came from 90-year-old Hashim Ansari, the original and oldest surviving petitioner in the case, and Satyendra Das, head priest of the makeshift Ram Janmabhoomi temple at the disputed site, where prayers are offered under strict control of the state government, as per court orders. Faizabad’s Commissioner is the receiver of the temple and all its earnings go to a designated bank account.

Ansari today visited Mahant Gyan Das of the Hindu seat of worship, Hanuman Garhi, hours before he pronounced that the high court’s order would be final for him, whether it was in favour of the Muslims or not.

Ruling out appeal in the Supreme Court, Ansari said: “We want this 60-year-old corpse buried in Lucknow and not in Delhi. We will not allow any politician to bake political cakes on this issue anymore. All Muslim bodies have appealed to the community to take the HC order in the matter as final. Appealing against that order in the Supreme Court would amount to disregarding and insulting the HC. We won’t allow that. For us, the nation is supreme.”

Ansari is known in Ayodhya for his friendship with most Hindu leaders, even those like Ramachandra Paramhans from Nirmohee Akhara, original Hindu petitioners in the matter. Ask him about this unity and he retorts, “Why do you ask me that? I have prayed in all Ayodhya temples, shared good times with Hindus. My legal battle is a matter of court. I don’t bring it to the streets. That’s my advice - this issue will only be resolved in the high court, not in panchayats on the roads.”

Ansari was also extremely critical today of the Congress’ handling of the issue and said, “Congress’ opportunism has caused us harm. It was during Rajiv Gandhi’s time that idols were placed in the mosque. It was during the Narasimha Rao’s regime that the mosque was demolished.”

At his residence, located right outside Nirmohee Akhara, which, along with the RSS and the VHP, is for further appeal in case of an unfavourable verdict, Satyendra Das supported Ansari, saying no appeals should be contemplated in the matter.

“What happened in 1992 was due to the influence of external vested interests. Also, the BJP and the VHP played up the issue to gain political mileage. Lord Rama’s worship was much better when He was installed in the mosque. But people destroyed the mosque and displaced the Lord forever. Today, He stands like a beggar in a makeshift tent where pilgrims can’t even see Him properly. Demolition of Babri Masjid has harmed Lord Rama, harmed Ayodhya and harmed us,” said the priest who has been managing the Ram temple since 1992.

Das was anguished over the Supreme Court’s stay on the proposed verdict and said its pronouncement would have ensured people’s hope didn’t die. “A base would have been formed for resolution. It’s a sad day, but whenever the verdict comes, we pray people accept it and don’t drag the matter to the apex court,” he said.

Ansari said the same thing, adding, “Ultimately, the matter will come to the high court and that will be the end of it from my side.”



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |