The AYODHYA Verdict
A member of the national executive of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Zafaryab Jilani has already dedicated 24 years of his life fighting the Babri Masjid title suit as the lawyer for the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf. With the matter now headed for the Supreme Court, he may well be devoting many more years to arguing this historic case. Excerpts of the interview:
Q: What is your reaction to the judgment?
A: Well, I have still not read the complete judgment. I have managed to download it, which itself took 12 long hours. But yes, I have managed to quickly go through most of it.
Q: What is most striking is the judgment basing its conclusions on ‘belief and faith’. As Justice Sudhir Agarwal says: “It is declared that the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure, i.e, the disputed structure, being the deity of Bhagwan Ram Janmasthan and place of birth of Lord Ram as per faith and belief of the Hindus, belong to plaintiffs (Suit 5).…”
A: This finding and declaration is based on something that doesn’t have the sanctity of being legal evidence as per the law of the land. The statement given by the witnesses of the Hindu side that have been relied upon by the learned judge to arrive at the findings cannot be said to be reliable under the Indian Evidence Act.
These were mostly hearsay and, moreover, they cannot be expected to have any authentic source of information as the birth of Lord Ram is said to have taken place at least 9 lakh years ago!
As per statements given by the witnesses on oath, the period of birth of Lord Ram varies from 9 lakh years to 1.5 crore years. This included the statement of the eminent religious leader Sri Jagatguru Ramananda Charya Swami Ram Bhadracharya of Chitrakoot who is the undisputed leader of the Vaishnav Samaj.
As per admission of historians, again witnesses from the Hindu side, there is no evidence of any human civilisation in any part of the world beyond 2 lakh years!
Q: Are there any other discrepancies?
A: The finding of the honourable judge that the disputed structure was constructed on the site of a temple after demolition of the same is also based on no evidence that can be said to be conclusive or definitive.
The report of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) could in no way be said to have proved the aforesaid contention as it did not mention the demolition of any temple in or around 1528 AD when the disputed structure or mosque is said to have been constructed during the regime of Babar.
Moreover the entire theory of a ‘pillar-based structure’ stood completely demolished by the statement given by the archeologist of the Hindu side who had admitted that the distances of the so-called pillar base varied from 2 to 10 metres. No structure could have been built using such pillars.
Q: On what basis was the suit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf dismissed?
The dismissal of the suit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf Muslim by one of the judges is on the ground of limitation. It appears to be based on the premise that the suit was for declaration only, for which the limitation is six years under the Limitation Act of 1908.
However, the contention of the Board was that the suit was not only for declaration but also for possession of the building of the mosque by removal of idols placed there on the intervening night of December 22 and 23, 1949.
In 1995, another prayer for relief by way of removal of the makeshift structure constructed on December 7, 1992, was added. Thus the suit was not only for declaration but also for possession, for which the limitation is 12 years under the 1908 Act.
As such the Muslim side was dispossessed of the building in dispute in the early hours of December 23, 1949, and the suit was filed on December 18, 1961, which is well within the 12-year period.
The Nirmohi Akhara petition was also dismissed under the basis of limitation, but it was correct to do so. Even during the arguments their advocate could not convince the court why their petition should not be dismissed under limitation.
Q: What about the Ram Lalla Virajman? Does it not attract limitation?
A: Retired Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal, as the next friend of the self-revealed deity Ram Lalla who is considered to be a minor, had filed this case. The case was fought on the premise that this is the place of Ram Lalla’s birth. However, when the place of birth of Lord Ram has not been conclusively proved, how can the case on behalf of the deity be accepted on that ground?
Q: Are you satisfied with any part of the judgment?
A: The fact that with a two-one majority the verdict has accepted the existence of a mosque. Justice S U Khan said, “The disputed structure was constructed as mosque by or under orders of Babar”.
Similarly, Justice Sudhir Agarwal also stated, “The area within the inner courtyard…belong to members of both the communities, i.e. Hindus and Muslims since it was being used by both since decades and centuries.”
Q: What would be the impact of this judgment be on the pending criminal cases connected with the demolition of the Babri Masjid?
A: This judgment would be of great help in those cases as well. As a two-one majority accepts the existence of the mosque at the site, it would be easier to prove that it was demolished. It was being argued in these cases that the mosque never existed and what was demolished was a temple.
Q: When are you going to the Supreme Court and what is going to be your main argument?
A: I hope to have a rough draft of my petition ready by October 15. On October 16, the All India Personal Law Board is holding a meeting in New Delhi where the draft would be scrutinised and after receiving inputs I would finalise it and submit it as soon as possible. The most significant aspect that I want to draw out is whether this country functions under the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution or under divine rule guided by belief and faith.