SC to hear Ayodhya title suit in January, pressure on Centre mounts

As the Supreme Court on Monday directed the listing of the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit matter for January 2019, the RSS and the VHP mounted pressure on the government to enact a law, with the Shiv Sena joining the chorus. The government remained cautious in its reaction.

In a move that could see the Ayodhya issue not decided before the Lok Sabha elections, the Supreme Court directed the listing of the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit matter for an appropriate bench that will fix the dates in January 2019 for the hearing of a batch of petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict trifurcating the disputed site.

During a brief hearing, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph gave its decision on the petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court ruling by which the disputed site in Ayodhya was divided into three parts — for Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the original Muslim litigant.

“We have our own priorities. Whether the case will come in January, February or March, it will be for the appropriate bench to decide,” CJI Gogoi said as a lawyer urged the court to decide on the dates when the hearing on challenge to the High Court judgment will take place.

The listing of the matter for January could prolong the hearing in the case for a few months — by when the country would be in election mode due to general elections due in April-May 2019.

As the apex court postponed the hearing, the RSS and the VHP mounted pressure on the government calling for a law. The government maintained that it had full faith in the court adding that a lot of people want that the hearing on the issue should be completed soon.

“I would like to humbly say that a lot of people in the country want that the hearing on the issue should be completed soon. We have full faith in the court and we fully respect it,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in poll-bound Chhattisgarh.

Arun Kumar, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh (communication in-charge) of the RSS, said: “The RSS is of the view that Ram temple must be constructed at the birthplace of Lord Ram and the place should be given to Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas. The construction of temple will create harmonious atmosphere. Taking this into account, the Supreme Court should take a decision at the earliest.

“However, if any obstacle comes on the way, the government must bring a legislation to pave the way. Since the beginning of the Ram temple movement, the sants and Dharm Sansad are leading it and the RSS has supported them. Whatever steps would be taken by sants in this regard, we will stand by them,” he added.

The VHP said the Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi appeals to 2019.

“This fortifies our stand that a solution is not in eternally waiting for the hearing of the appeals. We reiterate our demand for enacting a law in Parliament for construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya,” VHP Working President Alok Kumar said.

“The winter session of Parliament is ahead and this can be done,” he added.

The Shiv Sena said “the court will not do anything” on the Ayodhya issue.

“We want a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. We are not asking for a Ram Temple in Pakistan… Our demand is to construct Ram Temple in God Ram’s Ayodhya,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, reacting to the Supreme Court listing the hearing in the matter to January.

The court ruling was seen as a setback to the supporters of the Ram temple movement.

Expressing disappointment, Mahant Paramhans Das, who had recently gone on an indefinite sit-in to press for an early construction of Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, said the Hindu community and holy men do not have indefinite patience.

“BJP rode to power both at the Centre and UP on the promise of Ram temple construction. Now the time has come for them to fulfil their promise” he added.

Satyendra Das, the chief priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi, said it pained him that the delay by the apex court would now mean a “longer wait for Lord Rama under the tent”.

The Muslim petitioner in the case, Iqbal Ansari, too said that he was sad that Lord Ram’s idol was under the tent, but reiterated that everyone should wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court and that this would be acceptable to both sides.

Union Minister Giriraj Singh said Hindus were running out of patience due to the delay in constructing a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya and warned that no one can predict what will happen if they lose their patience.

Meanwhile, the Congress accused the BJP of polarising views on the Ram Temple issue ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

“This is a familiar story. Every five years before elections, the BJP tries to polarise views on Ram Mandir,” former Finance MInister P. Chidambaram said shortly after the Supreme Court ruling.

He said the Congress stand on the Ram temple was clear. “Congress position is that the matter is before the Supreme Court and everyone should wait until SC decides… I don’t think we should jump the gun.”

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