LUCKNOW: With the Supreme Court starting the final hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, the spotlight is back on the issue. Also, with the Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board submitting an affidavit staking claim to the Babri Masjid and its land, and proposing to shift the mosque from the disputed site, the discourse around it will be alive and kicking till the next Lok Sabha elections.
This is an ideal situation for the BJP. “The buzz around it helps the party,” says a political analyst. “With the final hearing on, the party can say that its core issue is being addressed, and it can also show how everything has to be done through a legal process,” he adds.
The Supreme Court has constituted a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra to hear the petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict. The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer, started hearing the case on August 11 and asked all the parties to submit the English versions of all documents.
“However, this development should appease those—both in the saffron pariwar and the BJP supporters in general—who have been crying hoarse over the delay in the construction of the Ram temple,” says a UP BJP leader.
However, the sudden entry of the Shia Waqf Board will also ensure that there is much more action in the case than it has seen for the past six years. The apex court has already accepted its affidavit.
If the Shia Board’s plea is conceded, it will require changes in two Acts—Central Waqf Act, 1995, and Ayodhya Act, 1993. Besides, it will also need amendment in a 1994 verdict of the Supreme Court’s full bench.
The Central Waqf Act, 1995, mentions that “any mosque, mausoleum and graveyard, cannot be shifted, sold or donated, neither anyone can change their nature.” The Ayodhya Act, 1993, enacted after the demolition of Babri mosque says that status quo will have to be maintained on the disputed land till the final verdict.
In 1994, a five-member apex court bench had said that the Central government was the statuary receiver of the disputed site and absolute receiver of acquired land, adjacent to the disputed site. The Central government will have to hand over the property of the disputed site to the winner of the title suit while the loser will get the same measurement of land in the acquired area.
Clearly, Shia Waqf Board’s contention has a tall order to surmount. The Sunni Central Waqf Board, which is the original litigant in the case, has strongly refuted the Shia claims calling it politically motivated. But for the first time, it has openly talked about a negotiated settlement under the supervision of the Central government.