New Delhi: In a single in-chamber hearing on Thursday, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court rejected all the 18 petitions seeking reconsideration of its November 9 judgment that granted the 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya to Ram Lalla Virajman, the child deity, for the construction of a Lord Rama temple.
Some of the petitions pointed to “illegalities and inaccuracies” and had contended that the Nov. 9 judgment was “contrary to law”, “self-contradictory” and “violative of the complete justice that was invoked”.
Some petitioners had contended that giving ownership of the disputed site at Ayodhya to the idol of Ram Lalla for the construction of a temple not only amounted to condoning illegal acts of Hindu parties, but awarding them.
The top court rejected them all after finding no merit in any of them. The court had, in its November 9 Ayodhya dispute order, also said that the government should give five acres of land at an alternative spot in Ayodhya to the Sunni Wakf Board for a mosque in lieu of the demolished Babri Masjid.
Of the 18 review petitions, nine had been filed by parties who were part of the earlier litigation and the other nine by “third parties”.
Thursday’s order by the five-judge bench, led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, paves the way for implementation of the unanimous November 9 judgment. The bench’s decision to dispose of the review petitions at a single hearing leaves the petitioners with only one last option, a curative petition that, experts say, is not likely to succeed.
The petitions filed by different parties, including Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)-backed petitioners, had argued that the Supreme Court’s verdict had sanctioned illegalities committed by the Hindu parties over the decades, including the 1992 demolition of the mosque.
Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, on the other hand, wanted the court to erase references to illegalities by Hindu parties and insisted that the court could not have given Muslims an alternative site when they hadn’t asked for it in the first place.
Among the nine “third parties” were 40 rights activists who had jointly moved the top court seeking review of its verdict.
All the pleas — both by the contesting parties and activists — sought the reconsideration of the November 9 judgment, and asked for an open court hearing. The activists had sought permission to file review petition. The SC did not grant permission to file review petitions saying they were not parties to the Ayodhya land dispute.
The petitioner Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, backed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, had sought reconsideration of the November 9 verdict on 14 counts while contending that the direction that a temple be built at the disputed land virtually amounted to a mandamus (or a judicial writ) to destroy, because had the Babri Masjid not been illegally demolished on December 6, 1992, execution of the top court’s November 9 order would have required its destruction to make space for the temple.
It said that “complete justice” could only be done by directing the reconstruction of Babri Masjid. He also sought an interim stay on operation of the verdict that had directed the Centre that a trust be formed within three months for construction of the temple at the site.
Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of the bench that had pronounced the November 9 verdict, was replaced by Justice Sanjiv Khanna at Thursday’s in-chamber proceedings. The other three judges on the bench were Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.
In-chamber hearing means that the five judges heard the 18 petitions by circulation.
The petitioners backed by All India Muslim Personnel Law Board had contended that the Ayodhya verdict giving the entire disputed site to idol of Ram Lalla for the constructions of Lord Rama’s temple was “failure rather than a fulfillment of complete justice” as the judgment was contrary to law and self-contradictory.