'People should see it as a victory for India.'
Senior Supreme Court advocate C S Vaidyanathan, who along with K Parasaran represented Ram Lalla Virajman in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid case, speaks to Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com about the apex court's judgment that paves the way for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
As the advocate who argued the case of Ram Lalla Virajman. how do you look at the Supreme Court judgment?
It is a very balanced judgement; a statesman-like judgment.
They (the five-judge Constitutional Bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Chief-Justice designate Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice S Abdul Nazeer, Justice Dhananjay Y Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan hearing the case) have taken into account not only all the material which was laid before the Bench during the course of arguments to prove the claims of Ram Lalla Virajman, the Hindu party, but they have also taken into account the need for amity, peace and brotherhood among the people and therefore ensured that five acres of land be given to the Waqf Board (the party representing the Muslim side) for setting up a mosque.
There is some confusion over this five acre land that will be given to the Muslims for constructing a mosque. Will this be inside the 67 acres of land that is disputed site or will it outside the 67 acres?
It may be from out of that (67 acres), or the central government after taking into account all the ground realities, may consider it appropriate to give it from somewhere else in Ayodhya.
That discretion has also been given to them (the central government). So, the central government and state government jointly will consider this (aspect) and take a decision.
I think the ground realities would definitely include maintaining peace and harmony and avoiding any law and order situation. Taking that into account it is for the (the central and state) governments to take the decision.
What were the clinching arguments that helped Ram Laalla Virajman to establish its position as a stakeholder?
The historical material, the travelogues and also the excavation done by the ASI (the Archaelogical Survey of India) really helped.
In Suit No 4, the Waqf Board came up with a case that the (Babri) mosque was built on vacant land. And when the (ASI) excavation showed that there was a big, non-Islamic structure, and there were artefacts associated with the Hindus, that proved to be the turning point.
When this came to light, the Muslims started saying there was Idgah wall. And if there was an Idgah wall, then such a big structure will not be there.
I think that had a substantial impact on the judges in the (Allahabad) high court (which adjudicated the division of the disputed 2.77 acre into three equal parcels, one each for Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board, the three parties to the dispute) and on the Supreme Court (the case reached the apex court in 2010 when the three parties challenged the Allahabad high court judgment). That plus all the historical material (we provided was the clinching evidence).
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is mulling over filing a review petition against the Supreme Court judgment. What could be the scope of this review petition?
Can a judgment passed by a Constitutional bench with a unanimous verdict be subject to review?
Any judgment can be subject to a review; any party can file a review petition.
Normally the review petitions are circulated in chamber and in the first instance decided in the chamber itself unless the judges are satisfied that there is a good ground for review, they will not issue notice and list it in open court.
Historically, 99.9 per cent of review petitions have been rejected in the chamber. So there is a very little chance of the review petition succeeding and particularly when it is a unanimous judgement by all five judges. It's highly unlikely that the review will be entertained.
M G Vaidya, the 96-year-old RSS ideologue, too has raised objections that the land that will be given to the Muslims should not be within the 5 acres of the temple that will be built.
I don't think there is any direction that the five acres to be given to the Muslims should be carved out of the 67 acres. It is for the central government to take the decision and I am sure the central government will take into account all the relevant factors.
With the unanimous judgment do you think the matter will come to a close?
I believe it has come to a closure now. Out of 135 crore people (1.35 billion Indians) there will always be a couple of lakhs of people who may not be happy. But I think the sense of 99.999 per cent people will be that this matter has come to a closure.
If a few people want to keep it alive they can, but I think the larger majority of people, including the silent majority of Muslims, will be happy about the closure.
How should every Indian, irrespective of her or his caste, creed or faith, look at this judgment?
It is the victory for the nation, victory for the concept of brotherhood among all the residents of the country. People should see it as a victory for India.
The Supreme Court has called the demolition of the Babri mosque as a violation of law and the installation of Ram Lalla illegal. So, how do these two observations reconcile with the overall judgment?
I think (with these observations) the court has re-emphasised the need for following the rule of law.
Nobody should take law into their own hands and say go and install the idols or go and demolish any structure.
One is entitled to avail of the remedies which are available under the Constitution and the law. Today's judgment is the re-establishment of the rule of dharma, the rule of law.
Do you think that calling the installation of Ram Lalla illegal, the Supreme Court has given a clear signal to future disputes arising from such instances because right wing Hindu organisations would want to repeat the experiment in Kashi and Mathura?
I think it is only a signal that people should follow the law of the land and nobody should use force for asserting their rights. You have a right under the law and you go avail of it. That's the signal.
Shouldn't the people who took the law into the hands by demolishing the Babri mosque face the law?
There is some prosecution going on in that case and the court will take decision on that.