The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a body of influential Muslim clerics and scholars, will meet on November 17 to plan the way forward after the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya judgment. The meeting will discuss the defeat in the case, and whether a review petition should be filed in the Supreme Court.
On Saturday, AIMPLB advocate Zafaryab Jilani stopped short of saying they would go for a review, despite several members of the Board making it clear that they were “not satisfied” with the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Sources said AIMPLB members are puzzled how the five-judge Bench reached its conclusion despite accepting that idols were stealthily placed in the Babri Masjid in 1949, and that the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992 was an “egregious” breach of the rule of law.
A source said there was concern that Muslims had been denied their due on the land where the masjid stood simply because “they had not obstructed Hindus from worshipping at the Chabutra and Sita Rasoi”.
While the court has awarded a 5-acre plot for a mosque somewhere in Ayodhya, sources in the AIMPLB said that more than the land, what the community needed was justice.
“The Waqf has so many acres of land in Ayodhya already, there is no dearth of land, we are unable to maintain it, and people are not able to go there and offer prayers. We do not need more land. What is needed is justice, and an atmosphere which allows the exercise of guaranteed fundamental rights by all in the community,” said a source.
“The Honourable five judges of the apex court despite admitting that the placing of idols and destruction of Babri Masjid were serious violations of the rule of law, it gave the land to those who had committed such crimes. This is clear discrimination against the particular community, which was not expected on part of the court. The judgment has shaken the faith of the minorities in the judiciary as they believe that they have been wronged,” Maulana Mehmood Madani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, and also a member of the AIPLMB, said in a statement.
“When the country got freedom and our constitution came into being, there was Babri mosque on the site. People had seen for generations that there was a masjid there and namaz was being offered there. In this case, it is the Supreme Court’s responsibility to protect the rights of Muslims, their freedom of worship and freedom of religion guaranteed in the constitution. That too includes their right to worship in the Babri mosque,” he said. Madani termed the post-verdict phase as a “testing time for Muslims and other peace-loving citizens”.
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Dr Abu Saleh Shariff, former-Member Secretary of the Sachar Committee, which looked into the social, educational, and economic status of Indian Muslims in 2006, said the “invocation of extraordinary powers of the Article 142 of the Constitution to grant a larger piece of land to Muslims appears most distressing to say the least”.
“It is open to the legal community to consider whether the reasoning adopted in the verdict and principles of law applied to the instant case are valid. Even after exhausting all the remedies, in a democratic society, no institution can claim infallibility and prevent academic discussions,” he said.