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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

SC raises Biblical ‘History’ question during Ayodhya hearing; Hindus wonder if they need to produce a birth certificate for Bhagwan Ram

The never-ending saga of the 134-year-old Ram Janmabhoomi case took yet another turn in Bharat’s tortuous legal maze, when Supreme Court asked senior advocate K. Parasaran, the lawyer for Ram Lalla (infant Bhagwan Ram), to prove that the disputed land belonged to Bhagwan Ram.

The SC bench asked whether a question related to the birth of a religious figure has ever arisen in any court, in particular “whether issues like birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem have been questioned and dealt with by any court in the world.”

The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising justices S.A. Bopde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer, also asked senior advocate Sushil K. Jain, appearing for the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination, to submit oral or documentary evidence to establish his claim that the Nirmohi Akhara were in possession of the Ram Janmabhoomi.

5-judge SC bench hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi case – CJI Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer (left to right). Source: LiveLaw

The Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace) case dates back to 1885 when a petition was filed by the the head of the Nirmohi Akhara asking for permission to offer prayers to Ram Lalla inside what was then known as the Babri Masjid  – this masjid was built in 1528 after destroying an existing temple by Mir Baqi, one of Mughal invader Babur’s generals.

On 30 September 2010, a Lucknow panel of three judges of the Allahabad High Court pronounced the verdict on the case, deciding to give a third part of the land to each party, namely the Sunni Waqf Board, Ram-Lalla Deity, and the Nirmohi Akhara. The Ram-Lalla Deity retained its present position and the Nirmohi Akhara received the areas referred to as the Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara.

The complete judgment of the Allahabad High Court runs into thousands of pages, but it has been neatly summarized and made accessible to the lay reader by historian Meenakshi Jain, in her stunning book, “Rama and Ayodhya.” Interested readers may refer to this review of the said book.

The Allahabad High Court bench itself took 8 years to complete hearings and pass a judgement, and now the same matter has been dragging on in Supreme Court for 8 years with no end in sight. In 2017, when the then CJI Dipak Misra refused to ignore the case and started regular hearings, the Congress ecosystem lawyers like Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhawan etc went ballistic and cast aspersions on CJI’s integrity asking him ‘What is the hurry?’ and demanded that the hearing be put off till July 2019.

Soon after, the liberal establishment issued an impeachment threat against CJI Dipak Misra. Their threats worked, and after Dipak Misra’s retirement, the current CJI Ranjan Gogoi ensured that Congress got what they wanted – the Ram Janmabhoomi hearings were inexplicably put off till after the elections.

And now the court again seems to be going off on a tangent by dragging in Biblical ‘history’ into the issue, and possibly demanding similar standard of ‘proof’ for the Ramayana which liberals regard as ‘mythology’. Worryingly, the court also seems to be trying to find the crutch of a Western precedent of a similar case, instead of focusing on the Bharatiya context and setting a precedent for other countries who have suffered destruction of invaluable heritage at the hands of invading colonial powers.

While Advocate K. Parasaran read out 3 distinct references in Ramayana to Ayodhya being the birthplace of Sri Rama in front of the SC bench, one doubts that will suffice for the highest court of the land. Going by their line of questioning, it appears they are looking for hard evidence, something akin to a ‘birth certificate’ (absurd as it sounds).

But all this seems to be a digression from the essential question of this case – was a temple destroyed to build the disputed structure (Babri Masjid)?

The High Court verdict clearly states as below –

“1(b) Whether the building had been constructed on the site of an alleged Hindu temple after demolishing the same as alleged by defendant No. 13? If so, its effect?

Decided in favour of defendants and against the plaintiffs on the basis of A.S.I. Report.

These words of Meenakshi Jain, one of the foremost experts on the issue, speak for all Hindus –

I am amazed that despite vast body of evidence, courts are taking so long” 

-By अवलोकनकारी 

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