In Faruqui’s shade

Ayodhya ti­tle dis­pute needs clo­sure

Business Standard - - OPINION -

Supreme Court has dis­missed the 1994 Is­mail Faruqui judg­ment’s ob­ser­va­tion that “a mosque is not an es­sen­tial part of the prac­tice of Is­lam and na­maz” as hav­ing no bear­ing on the Babri Masjid-Ram­jan­mab­hoomi ti­tle suit. The order paves way for hear­ings in the ti­tle dis­pute to re­sume by in­ter­pret­ing the ob­ser­va­tions in Faruqui in the spe­cific con­text of gov­ern­ment ac­quir­ing 67 acres in and around the dis­puted mosque, which it said “need not be read broadly”. But be­yond Ayodhya, this ob­ser­va­tion in Faruqui is at vari­ance with a sec­u­lar repub­lic’s man­date to pre­serve the sanc­tity of re­li­gious places.

Ideally, a seven-judge con­sti­tu­tional bench should re­view the Faruqui judg­ment be­cause it gives po­lit­i­cal oxy­gen to other his­tor­i­cal dis­putes re­lated to re­li­gious struc­tures and raises the pos­si­bil­ity of more Ayodhya-like cleav­ages. Jus­tice Bharucha’s mi­nor­ity view in Faruqui had termed the Ayodhya land ac­qui­si­tion on grounds of pre­serv­ing pub­lic order as con­sti­tu­tion­ally im­per­mis­si­ble. He noted that when ad­her­ents of the ma­jor­ity re­li­gion used force of num­bers to as­sail the place of wor­ship of an­other re­li­gion and dis­rupt pub­lic order, it was the duty of the state to pro­tect the place of wor­ship, not ac­quire it to pre­serve pub­lic order.

In con­trast to Faruqui, the Babri ti­tle suit must scrupu­lously strive to stay away from re­li­gious ar­gu­ments and go strictly by prop­erty doc­u­ments and civil laws.

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