Forty civil rights activists on Monday filed a review petition against the November 9 judgment of the 5 judges bench of the Supreme Court in Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute.
The petitioners include academics, authors and activists such as Harsh Mander, Nandini Sunder, Apoorvanand Jha, Jayati Ghosh, Irfan Habib, Shabnam Hashmi etc.
Though they were not parties to the original case, they said that they were seeking review as the verdict has a "direct impact on the syncretic culture of the country and its secular fabric envisaged in the Constitution".
According to them, the tenor, language and operative orders of the judgment showed that the Supreme Court had expanded the scope of a title dispute to a "battle about faith" of Hindus and Muslims.
The review petition filed through Advocate Prashant Bhushan contended that the Court placed higher value on the belief of the Hindu parties that the disputed place was the birth place of Lord Ram.
"Therefore, by relying on the faith of the belief of the existence of a temple, over the evidence of existence of the mosque, this decision has been in violation of Constitutional principles of equality and freedom of religion", the petition stated.
By providing exclusive ownership of the disputed land to the Hindu worshippers, and completely excluding Muslim worshippers from access to the land, the faith of one of the communities was consequently regarded higher than the other, thereby violating the secular principle embedded in the Constitution of India, said the plea.
According to the petitioners, the judgment rewarded those who acted illegally by trespassing into the mosque and eventually demolishing it.
"The Court categorically ruling in favour of the so-called Hindu parties was nothing but providing legal recognition of these illegal acts. Because of this, the Court's decision is dangerously complicit in the violation of constitutional principles".
"the Orders passed by this Hon'ble Court have allowed the concerned militant Hindutva outfits to take advantage of their illegal actions such as placing the idol under the central dome on the intervening night of December 23/24 1949 which were done to further manufacture a cause of action. The Hon'ble Court fails to consider this act in light of the settled principle of law i.e. ex turpis causa non oritur actio (from a dishonorable cause an action does not arise)".
The Muslim side has filed a review petition against the verdict contending, inter-alia, that the relief to Hindu parties amounted to rewarding illegal acts of trespass and demolition committed against the mosque. The judgment is mostly based on Hindu faith than secular principles, contended another set of review petitions filed by persons backed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
The Hindu Mahasabha has also filed a review against the direction to allot 5 acres for construction of mosque as a 'compensatory measure'.
In the November 9 judgment, a 5 judges bench comprising the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer held that the Hindu parties had a better claim of possessory title over the land, and allowed the construction of a temple in the entire area of 2.77 acres, under the aegis of a trust created by the Central Government.
At the same time, the Court acknowledged that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 was an egergious act, and compensated the Muslim side by directing grant of 5 acres of alternate land for the UP Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of mosque. This was ordered by the Court to do "complete justice" invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.
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