Ayodhya Verdict: What SC’s ‘Sophisticated’ Reasoning Really Means
What are the implications of the Supreme Court judgment, awarding the disputed site at Ayodhya to the Hindu side? To understand that, we need to understand how the judgment is being perceived by different communities and players involved in and impacted by the dispute, and what it contains for all of us.
The judgment repeatedly pays homage to the secular character of the nation, claims that it does not base its finding on the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), makes clear that the existence of the mosque could not be disputed, calls the attempt to change the nature of the mosque (by surreptitiously putting idols of Hindu deities in the innermost part of the mosque) illegal — and does not mince words in calling the demolition of the mosque in 1992 an act of violation of law.
What Rejection of Allahabad HC’s Decision Means
It also rejects the formula of the division of the disputed site suggested by the Allahabad High Court between the Hindu and the Muslim sides, by making clear that the site is an indivisible whole. By doing this, it made it amply clear that it was going to decide on the issue of the title in a composite manner. To do that, it was important that it could be proven that the claim of one of the parties was weightier than the other one. The court devised a very interesting way of doing that.
What was a whole is now divided into two parts. Then it concluded that Hindus had exclusive possession of the outer courtyard of the mosque. After doing it, it moved to the inner courtyard. The repeated attempts by troublemakers to forcibly enter the mosque were sanctified by the court by giving a sophisticated term to them: ‘contestation’. Then the Muslims were told that while this was true, that there was a mosque there and they were also praying in it, but they could not provide proof of exclusive possession of the inner courtyard of the mosque in the light of the contestation by the Hindus prior to 1857.
It is this which led them to conclude that since Hindus were always the contesting party, their claim was worthier than the claim of the Muslims.
If there is a mosque there, do I need to prove that it is a place where worship is done continuously? The court created an unequal relationship between Hindus and Muslims.
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Message to the Majority & Minority
This judgment is a watershed moment in the history of independent India because from now on, the message to all the organs of the state is very clear: you can chant ‘secularism’ yet treat minorities as ‘inferior’. So, this judgment has given legitimacy to majoritarianism in the name of “preponderance of probabilities.”
If you keep the ‘bully’ happy, peace follows. The implications of the judgment are then clear: minorities have a clear message that they cannot depend on the judiciary for their rights. They’ll have to find their own ways to survive as humans in this country. Hindus have also been given a message that their identity would henceforth be defined by the RSS-led forces.
The government, by being asked to form a trust to build a temple, has now been unambiguously aligned with a religious function. Commentators have called it a brief ‘respite’ – some see it as a long overdue closure, some a breakthrough moment which will help Indian society ‘move on’.
Faith of People Shaken at the Core
As a friend wrote, “The SC verdict took the blight of the communalism that afflicted the Sangh family and injected into the body of India, with which it will suffer for generations to come.”
To keep a large population of Muslims in perpetual ‘humiliation’ is self-deception. The worst that has happened is that the might of the Supreme Court has been dealt a severe blow. The ‘bullies’ now know that they would be validated, and the weak know that it cannot expect relief from this institution. In other words, the faith of the people in the rule of law has been shaken at the core.
(The writer teaches at Delhi University. He tweets @Apoorvanand_. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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