A LETTER TO PM: A REALITY CHECK
RAM TEMPLE IN AYODHYA
A Reality Check
Intro: Following is the letter written to the Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi subjected ‘Ram Temple in Ayodhya: A Reality Check’ by Subramanian Swamy on July 28
Mark Twain had once said that, “It is a lot easier to mislead the people than convince them that they are misled.” This is the reality about the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the reality about which I wish to bring to your attention.
People in India have been misled to believe that a temple and a masjid are both equally revered religious places.
This misconception is at the root of our failure so far to re-build and or restore the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Krishna Temple in Mathura, and Vishvanath Temple in Varanasi.
The fundamental reality is: A masjid is not, in Indian case law, or international case law, or even under the Sharia jurisprudence (which is the law for Muslims), held to be religiously sacred.
This is the position in Islamic law as propounded by scholars in Saudi Arabia, in which country the authorities demolish mosques to lay roads, build parks or multi-storied apart buildings. Even the mosque in Mecca where Prophet Mohammed used to read namaz, was demolished for a new building and road to pass through!
According to a judgment of the Constitution Bench of India’s Supreme Court in the famous Ismail Farooqui vs Union of India case reported in (1994) 6 SCC 376, a masjid is not held to be an essential part of the religion of Islam.
The Apex Court had posed a question as follows [Para 80]: “It has been contended that a mosque enjoys a particular position in Muslim law and once a mosque is established and prayers are offered in such a mosque, the same remains for all time to come a property of Allah…and any person professing Islamic faith can offer prayer in such a mosque, and even if the structure is demolished, the place remains the same where namaz can be offered.”
On the other hand , in case law, a temple once constructed after prana prathistha puja is always a tmple. This sacred status of a temple—even if it is in ruins or without worship—was decided in a case of a smuggled- out bronze Nataraja statue from a Thanjavur temple which temple was in disuse, and which statue was put up for sale in London by Bumper Corporation. The Government of India sued for its return to India.
The matter went to the House of Lords, our Supreme Court level. On February 13, 1991, when I was the Union Law Minister, the House of Lords upheld the Indian government’s position [see (1991) 4 All ER 638] a temple, whether in use, disuse or even demolished, is owned by the deity in perpetuity, in this case by Lord Shiva, and any Hindu can litigate on behalf of the deity as a defacto trustee.
The Bench consisting of Justices Purchas, Nourse and Leggatt concluded: “We therefore hold that the temple is acceptable as party to these proceedings and that it is as such entitled to sue for the recovery of the Nataraja.” [Page 648, Para (g)].
This is the precise position now held by the three judges Bench of the Allahabad High Court while deciding the so-called dispute in the Ramjanma-bhoomi-Babri Masjid case.
Earlier, in 2002, in respect to the Question posed in a Presidential Reference under Article 143 of the Constitution, the High Court of Allahabad directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to determine if there was indeed a pre-existing Hindu temple structure before the construction of the Babri Masjid.
The ASI making excavations and using the Ground Penetrating Radars concluded that there was indeed such a structure.
The Allahabad HC, thereafter in the dispute adjudication as directed by the 1994 Supreme Court judgment, concluded in 2011: “The Archaeological Survey of India has proved that the pre-existing structure was a massive Hindu religious structure. The disputed Babri Masjid structure was constructed on the site of the old structure after demolition of the same.”
This judgment binds the Govern-ment of India by virtue of a sworn commitment in 1994 given to the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court.
In the Affidavit filed by the Government of India before the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court in the above cited 1994 Farouqi case judgment, the re-building commitment of the Government of India was recorded by the said, Constitutio-nal Bench in its judgment.
On page 383 of the said judgment, the Solicitor General is quoted by the Supreme Court Constitutional Bench as stating on affidavit filed on the direction of the Apex Court, as follows: “If a Hindu temple /structure did exist prior to the construction of the demolished Babri Masjid structure, government action will be in support of the wishes of the Hindu community.”
This is also the similar commitment made in 1991 by the Muslim representatives of the Babri Masjid Action Committee to the Government when I as Union Law & Justice Minister was asked by Prime Minister Chandra-shekhar, in November 1990, find ways to make the VHP withdraw its Kar Seva call scheduled from December 9, 1990 and to negotiate a settlement.
The meeting between VHP’s Acharya Giriraj Kishore and myself was held in Arun Jaitely’s house. The VHP agreed to my proposal and withdrew the call.
Subsequently prominent Muslim leaders made the following commitment: “If these assertions were proved, the Muslims would voluntarily hand over the disputed shrine to the Hindu.” This commitment/assurance is recorded in Government of India’s White Paper [In paras 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3].
Thereafter, Chandrashekhar arbitrated for a negotiated settlement, which included demolishing the Babri Masjid, re-building the Ram Temple, and building new masjid for the Shia community across the Saryu River.
It may be kept in mind that Mir Baqi, Babar’s commander, was a Shia and the Babri Masjid that he constructed was for the Shias. The hereditary Muthwali supervisor today is also a Shia and he is, I am reliably told, agreeable to re-building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya site and a masjid across the Saryu River. For good reasons, which I will tell you personally; this new masjid should not be called after Babri.
Most importantly, our party has committed in its 2014 Manifesto to building a Ram Temple at the Ayodhya site if it is legal to do so.
It is now obvious that it is undoubtedly legal to do so under the existing case laws, which reason is bolstered by the nature of a masjid under the Sharia Islamic law.
Therefore, what should be the road map or blueprint for our government to deliver on the 2014 Manifesto promise?
The following steps may be taken by 2016 to re-build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and fulfill our commitment to the electorate:
- (i) Appoint a former Chief Justice of India, such as for CJI SH Kapadia as the Executor. The office of the Executor may liaise with a designated Minister such as General VK Singh.
- (ii) The designated Minister may issue Notice to the Babri Masjid Muthwali, who is a hereditary supervisor, and is living in India, asking him to formally agree to withdraw his claim to the Ramjanmabhoomi, and offer him an alternative site for a masjid to be built at public expense, across the Saryu River.
- (iii) Call a meeting of Islamic clerics, Indian and foreign, and seek their endorsement. The Supreme Court may then be approached for disposing off all pending SLPs and Writ Petitions.
- (iv) If such an endorsement is not forthcoming then the Government should move an enabling Bill in Parliament and have it passed.
- (v) Create a Ram Temple Re-Building Committee on the Somnath temple model.
- (vi) Begin construction of the Ram Temple on an auspicious date in 2016.
I will be happy to assist our government in any way to implement this electoral promise to the people.
-Subramanian Swamy (The writer is a BJP leader and Economist)