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Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: Mosque side set to file review plea against SC order, rejects 5-acre plot

Sunni Waqf Board opposes decision by AIMPLB, Jamiat; AIMPLB says will accept what the court finally decides

Zafaryab Jilani (right) at the AIMPLB press meet Lucknow. (PTI)

THE All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Jamiat ulama i Hind announced on Sunday that they would file review petitions on the Supreme Court judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, and would not accept the 5-acre plot awarded by a five-judge Bench in lieu of the disputed site.

After a meeting held in Lucknow, AIMPLB working committee member Kamal Farooqui said, “The board has decided that a review petition should be filed against the Supreme Court verdict.”

While Jamiat is a party in the dispute, the AIMPLB has played an organising role in the case. The AIMPLB working committee members said the petition would be filed within the 30-day deadline and reiterated that whatever “the final verdict” of the apex court, they would abide by it.

On Sunday evening, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board told PTI it was not in favour of a review petition, as it had stated after the Supreme Court verdict came out. The Waqf Board was one of the main litigants in the case. Chairman Zufar Farooqui told PTI, “Before the judgment, the AIMPLB was repeatedly saying it will abide by any judgment of the Supreme Court. Then why is an appeal being made now?”

On the question of taking another plot of land in lieu of the disputed area, Farooqui said they would decide at a meeting on November 26.

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Original petitioner Iqbal Ansari too has indicated he is reluctant to continue the legal battle.

In its November 9 judgment in the dispute, that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court ordered handing over of the entire disputed 2.77 acres to the Hindu side, while holding that the placing of the idols at the site in 1949 was a “desecration”, terming its demolition in 1992 illegal and saying there was no evidence of the Babri Masjid having been built after demolishing a temple. The Muslim side was awarded a 5-acre plot within Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.

AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani, who was the counsel for the Muslim side in both the High Court and the Supreme Court, said, “We have decided petitions will be filed by Maulana Mahfooz Rahmani and Muhammad Umar, also some defendants, such as the sons of Haji Arshad, Hizbullah. Jamiat too has decided to file a review plea… It seems likely at this point that these will be different petitions.”

The Jamiat said a panel under the chairmanship of president Maulana Arshad Madani had “gone deeply into the prospects of a review petition”. “The expert panel observed that the judgment was against the Babri Masjid and it was not a final judgment as the option of reviewing is available under the Constitution. The panel found that in its more than 1,000-page judgment, the five-member apex court Bench under the Chief Justice of India accepted that most of the evidence and arguments given were in favour of the Babri Masjid,” the Jamiat said, adding, “While the legal option is available, there is also Sharia obligation to defend the masjid till the last breath.”

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The AIMPLB said it had taken into account the evidence presented by the Musim side and come to the conclusion that a review petition should be filed “because of the various apparent errors in (the Supreme Court order)”. “The petition will also deal with the fact that Muslims cannot accept any other land in lieu of the masjid land, and it is only justice that they be given the land that Babri Masjid stood on. Muslims did not go to the Supreme Court to take ownership of just any land… The restitution by granting 5 acres where fundamental values have been damaged to the extent of causing national shame will not in any manner heal the wounds… the effect of this direction would amount to shifting the mosque by judicial order without any provocation by the community, which always tried to protect this mosque.”

Saying Sharia law did not allow building the same mosque at any other site, it added, “Mosques are essential for the religious practice of Muslims.”

The AIMPLB added, “…Supreme Court, in this judgement itself, has observed that the protection granted therein (Places of Worship Act, 1991) is to ensure and protect fundamental values of the Constitution… and acceptance of equality of all religious faiths. The Muslim community contested this litigation to ensure and secure the said fundamental values.” Noting that “the State has no religion”, the board said the failure to protect the Babri Masjid “amounted to betrayal of the Muslim community at large”.

On the 5-acre land, Jilani said it was not about building a mosque, and that Ayodhya had at least 27 masjids already. “The 5-acre land… will neither balance equity nor repair the damage caused in the country,” the AIMPLB said.

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The Jamiat statement underlined that some Supreme Court observations cleared several allegations regarding the Babri Masjid. “For example, the mosque was not built after demolishing a Ram temple. The ASI report also amply confirmed (this)… Furthermore, both the courts — the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court (in 2010) — accept this bitter fact that idols were put inside the Babri Mosque illegally… Till then, five-time prayers were being offered in the mosque.”

“It is also perplexing that the bench did not accept deity Ram Lalla as the owner of the land but handed over the mosque to the Hindu parties,” the Jamiat statement said.

The venue for the AIMPLB meeting was earlier Nadwa in Lucknow, and it claimed the administration had forced it to change it to Mumtaj PG College at the last minute. The meeting was attended by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, an AIMPLB member, who was among the first to call for rejection of the 5 acres.

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