A common man seeks justice either from the chambers of courts or from the sanctums of temples. Both these places position themselves as the seats of the Lords; one in black robes following the contemporary laws aka Yug Dharma and the other emancipating the eternal law aka Sanatana Dharma.
Rare are the moments when we get to see the convergence two. One such rare event is going on in the Supreme Court of India. The case of Ayodhya dispute, which has been blue-eyed boy as much for the political parties as to the media platforms. Apart from this dimension, there is another dimension; the dimension of the religious faith of millions of people. There is a constant attempt by the media houses and the political parties to encash the faith of the masses. To settle the whole of the disputes and to shun these vultures of public emotions, the judiciary had to step-in. The final judicial pronouncement is long due and the matter has now reached at the door-steps of the Apex court in India.
After dismissing the petition to review its judgement in Dr. Ismail Faruqi V. Union of India, AIR 1995 SC 605 A (in which it was held that mosque is not the essential feature of Islam and if the state legally acquires the land on which a mosque is built, such acquisition doesn’t amount to violation of the Article 25 of the Constitution of India), the Supreme Court is left with settling the title dispute pertaining to the land.
The Allahabad High Court, vide its impugned judgement, had trifurcated the 2.77 acre; one part each to the Nirmohi Akhada, the deity ‘Ram Lalla’ represented by Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Waqf board.
The present contention before the Hon’ble Supreme Court is that the impugned judgement of the Allahabad High Court is perverse and bad in law since the prayer of suit was for deciding the title rather it being a partition suit.
During the initial listing, the SC realized that the majority of the exhibited documents, which constitute evidence for the matter, are in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian and some other local dialects. Since English is the language of the Supreme Court, the same was required to be translated into English. This procedure took a considerable amount of time.
The present matter (after the court rejected the petition to review Faruqi case (supra)) was listed before the bench of Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on 4th January 2019, after the application for urgent hearing, filed by the UP government on 27th October 2018, was turned down by the court. The court delivered that the matter would be heard by a larger bench from 10th January 2019.
On 8th January 2019, a bench of 5 judges was constituted by the Chief Justice, who is the master of Supreme Court roster, to hear the case titled M. Siddiq and Ors V. Mahant Suresh Das and Ors. (Popularly known as the Ram Janmbhoomi Case).
Seldom does it happen that a constitution bench has all the judges who shall be the Chief Justices of India. This matter, too, is something which seldom one observes. The lords of the law in attempt to render justice to the lord of the universe. The judges of the bench, one after another, shall hold the office of the CJI till November 2024. Moreover, these are all the ‘to-be Chiefs’ who are currently in the Supreme Court judgeship.
The bench is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice Mr. Ranjan Gogoi and his brother judges; Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana, U.U.Lalit and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud. While Justice Gogoi shall hold the office of CJI till November 2019, Justice Bobde will be the CJI from November 2019 to April 2021 followed by Justice Ramana till August 2022 who shall be succeeded by Justice Lalit as the CJI till November 2022 and finally Justice Chandrachud shall be the Chief Justice of India from 9th November 2022 to 10th November 2024. These five are the only judges out of 28 judges of the SC that are in the line to the top-most judicial office of the nation. The person holding the office after November 2024 is yet to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India.
Legally speaking, the matter is just a land dispute where the real title-holder is to be ascertained. The CJ too has been re-iterating this fact every-time the matter is mentioned before his him. But the composition of the bench reflects upon the seriousness of this matter. The expected impact of this decision on the sentiments of the countrymen. The stakes of his judgement is very high and probably it is this sensitive nature of the matter that has resulted into this composition of the bench.
On 10th January 2019 at 10:30 am, when this constitution bench shall sit in the court no. 1 of the Supreme Court of India, it shall be a moment that seldom happens in history. All we can hope is that whatever this bench concludes, it shall do justice with the history; history which has gone and the history which shall be written.