PATNA: With the Supreme Court has deferred the hearing of the Ayodhya title suit for unavailability of a judge in the five-member Constitution Bench, Union law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday strongly advocated a hearing of the case at the earliest as it is now a 70-year-old dispute.
While asserting that an early settlement of the Ram Temple issue is the wish of a majority of India’s citizens, the senior BJP leader also highlighted the perceived contrast between the status of this case in the apex court and a few others that got an expeditious hearing there in recent months. Prasad’s statements drew stiff criticism from Congress.
“I would not comment on the unavailability of a judge, but I must say that a huge chunk of the country’s citizens want a grand Ram Mandir to be built there (Ayodhya)… I would certainly say, not as the nation’s law minister but as a citizen of the nation, that the Ram Janmabhoomi case is pending with the courts for the past 70 years and the Allahabad High Court’s verdict was essentially in favour of Ram Janmabhoomi,” said the minister for law, justice and electronics.
Reminding that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah have said that this issue should be resolved “through the constitutional process,” Prasad added: “Now the appeal is pending for nearly ten years. This whole suit, which is now 70 years old, should be dealt with as early as possible.”
“People are also raising the issue of certain cases like Sabarimala, adultery, or the case of trust vote in Karnataka Assembly, which the court heard in the night. People keep asking me about this. Even the case about the Urban Maoists is also heard expeditiously,” said Prasad. He hastened to add: “All this is very good, but the country’s people want that the Ram Janmabhoomi case be heard at the earliest.”
Asserting that he has “very high respect” for and “full faith” in the Supreme Court, Prasad further said: “We only have a singular expectation that this case be heard at the earliest”.
Congress’s senior national spokesperson Shakil Ahmed deplored the Union minister’s statements, saying they are tantamount to casting aspersions on the motive of the nation’s highest court.
“The Ayodhya case is with the nation’s highest court. By comparing it with hearings in other cases, the law minister has in effect cast aspersions on the motives of the Supreme Court. It is unheard of and uncalled for,” said Ahmed, a former Union minister, to this newspaper.