NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court on Monday refusing to prioritise hearing of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, with the earliest window opening only in January, its verdict in all probability will not be out before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“We will fix the date of hearing of the Ayodhya dispute case before the appropriate bench in January,” a three-judge first bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for the UP government and deity Ramlala respectively, sought early listing in view of the long pendency of the case, the bench shot back: “We have our own priorities. Whether the matter will be heard in January, February or March, the appropriate bench will decide.”
The court may be hoping the verdict does not vitiate the atmosphere ahead of the general elections, but that would perhaps not prevent the stakeholders from making it a poll plank.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya appeared grumpy. “I don’t want to comment on the SC’s position but it won’t send a good message down the line,” he said.
For its part, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad demanded that the Centre bring in a law to build the temple.
“We will not keep on waiting till eternity. This fortifies the VHP’s stand that the solution to the Ram Janmabhoomi issue is not in eternally waiting for hearing of appeals pending for over seven years,” said VHP’s working president Alok Kumar.
Even saints in Ayodhya appeared upset. Mahant Paramhans Das, who had been on fast unto death recently demanding a firm schedule for building the Ram temple, said the BJP government should now pave the way for temple construction at the earliest. “If this is not done, BJP, VHP and RSS will have to face the consequences in 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he warned.
Bharatiya Sant Samiti chief Swami Jitendranand Saraswati said he would pressure the Centre to bring a law for temple construction in the winter session of Parliament. However, Nirmohi Akhada, a party to the title suit, was okay with the SC position.
Ramjanmabhoomi chief priest Satyendra Das said only the SC could solve the matter and both parties were ready to abide by its order. Litigant Iqbal Ansari, son of Hashim Ansari (the first Muslim litigant who went to court in 1961), echoed Das saying the court’s decision would be acceptable to him.
Jan-end dharma sansad by VHP during kumbh mela to act as pressure point
While RSS spokesperson Arun Kumar said the SC should deliver an early verdict and the government should enact a law to remove hurdles in the way of giving land for a temple, if required, the BJP brass chose to remain silent.
Political tempo around the issue is expected to build up during the forthcoming Kumbh Mela, when a Dharma Sansad will be convened by the VHP on January 31 and February 1 to discuss it. Congress leader Anand Sharma advised patience.
“Everyone should patiently wait for the verdict. Congress will welcome and accept the Supreme Court verdict,” he said