A saf­fron twist

Re­visit its 1994 ob­ser­va­tions about the place of mosques de­clin­ing to

FrontLine - - THE JUDICIARY - BY ZIYA US SALAM AND VENKITESH RAMAKRISHNAN

The Sangh Pari­var in­ter­prets the Supreme Court’s verdict in Is­lam as a ma­jor step towards ob­tain­ing le­gal ap­proval for the con­struc­tion of a Ram tem­ple in Ay­o­d­hya, but Mus­lim or­gan­i­sa­tions are plan­ning to seek a ju­di­cial re­view of the order.

THE ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the pro­pa­ganda ma­chin­ery of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­wak Sangh (Rss)-led Sangh Pari­var to twist and turn any devel­op­ment or fact into a nar­ra­tive that suits its po­lit­i­cal and so­cial agenda—be it short, medium or long term—is time-tested. This at­tribute has once again come to the fore through the Sangh Pari­var’s vol­u­ble in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Supreme Court’s Septem­ber 27 ma­jor­ity verdict on a pe­ti­tion seek­ing to re­fer to a larger, five-judge Con­sti­tu­tion Bench the ques­tion whether a “mosque as a place of prayer is an es­sen­tial part of Is­lam”. The bench made it clear that it was ad­dress­ing only this lim­ited ques­tion and that it had no bear­ing on other le­gal pro­ceed­ings on the Ay­o­d­hya Ram Jan­mab­hoomi-babri Masjid dis­pute, in­clud­ing the cru­cial ti­tle dis­pute. How­ever, sec­tions of the Sangh Pari­var, in­clud­ing Ut­tar Pradesh Chief Min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath and se­nior RSS leader In­dresh Ku­mar, have started de­pict­ing the verdict as a ma­jor step towards ob­tain­ing le­gal ap­proval for the con­struc­tion of a Ram tem­ple at the spot where the Babri Masjid ex­isted un­til it was de­mol­ished on De­cem­ber 6, 1992.

To put the Septem­ber 27 verdict into per­spec­tive, it is a judg­ment on one ap­peal in the many re­lated cases that have come up along with the Ram Jan­mab­hoomi-babri Masjid dis­pute but has no di­rect link to the orig­i­nal ti­tle dis­pute case. The ap­peal was es­sen­tially based on a 1994 judg­ment of the Supreme Court, which in­ci­den­tally was made on le­gal chal­lenges raised by one Is­mail Faruqui to the govern­ment ac­qui­si­tions of land in Ay­o­d­hya, par­tic­u­larly land in which mosque(s) stood, first in 1992 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) govern­ment in Ut­tar Pradesh led by Kalyan Singh and later in 1993 by the Congress govern­ment at the Cen­tre led by P.V. Narasimha Rao. Some of these govern­ment ac­qui­si­tion moves had tar­geted plots on which the Babri Masjid stood. The 1994 judg­ment of the Supreme Court in the Is­mail Faruqui case had held that the of­fer­ing of prayers in a mosque was

MUS­LIMS OF­FER­ING PRAYERS New Delhi on Au­gust 22. in the mosque at Feroz Shah Kotla fort in

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