It is sad that impatience is spilling out in certain quarters on the Ram temple issue after the Supreme Court decided to take up the hearing of the petitions in January 2019. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya wants the government to acquire the land at the earliest to facilitate temple construction.
Earlier, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat batted for “an appropriate and requisite law” for it. After the apex court deferred the date of hearing, Union Minister of State for micro, small and medium enterprises Giriraj Singh said the government should bring up legislation for construction of the temple as Hindus were “running out of patience.” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that that “sometimes, justice delayed was equivalent to injustice.” BJP MP Rakesh Sinha has spoken of bringing up a private member’s bill in the Lok Sabha on the issue. Such impatience is contrary to the earlier position of the RSS and BJP that they were for finding a solution through dialogue and consensus.
The controversy over the Ram temple has been raging for decades and all the parties to the dispute have agreed to accept the verdict of the topmost court of the country. Despite assurances to obey the court verdict, the issue is raked up in irresponsible and brazen manner. It is often the case that the issue picks up heat during elections to the Lok Sabha. After the elections, the issue is put on the back burner. The demand for making a law to begin construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site is a direct undermining of the authority and dignity of the Supreme Court. RSS and BJP leaders should desist from talking of or making any move that undermines the authority of the judiciary. People at large have great faith in the judiciary.
All petitioners in the case are waiting for the verdict of the Supreme Court because they have faith in it. If the RSS and BJP leaders continue talking of pre-empting the future verdict of the Supreme Court by passing a law, they would appear as hypocritical in the public eye when they swear allegiance to the Constitution and the rule of law.
As many as 14 appeals have been filed before the apex court against the Allahabad High Court judgement delivered in four civil suits, which said that the 2.77 acre land be partitioned equally among three parties to the dispute – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The Supreme Court deferring the case to a later date has closed the room for exploitation of the verdict for electoral purposes.
The Supreme Court has given verdicts in many sensitive cases that have been based on constitutional grounds. The verdict allowing women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple may not have been accepted by the orthodox followers of the faith, the high priests of the temple and the temple board, but it cannot be denied that the apex court judges who based their order on the women’s constitutional right to equality including their right to worship were wrong in arriving at their decision.
Some of the top BJP leaders made a ludicrous statement that the court should not give verdicts against the values of the faith. If the judges were to give verdicts in accordance of faiths, there would be no need for a judiciary, because the values and ethos of different faiths would be governing their affairs, no matter how inhuman and gender unjust and religiously divisive they may be.
Sanity must return to the political parties and organizations associated with the Ram temple movement. The BJP has already proven itself to be following double standards on the issue of women’s entry to Sabarimala temple. The BJP had welcomed the Bombay High Court verdict allowing women’s entry to the Haji Ali shrine. In the Haji Ali case, the court rejected arguments by the shrine trust that denying women entry was an essential part of the faith.
The Supreme Court rejected similar arguments made by the orthodox groups in the Sabarimala case. How could the BJP welcome women’s entry to the Haji Ali shrine and oppose their entry to the Sabarimala temple? Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said deferring the case was the Supreme Court decision and he respected it. His stance showed that the government would wait for the court verdict on the issue. If RSS and BJP hardliners cannot wait for the apex court verdict they should devote themselves to building a consensus, which could bring a faster resolution of the dispute.