SC’s Ayodhya verdict refutes idea of Hindu Rashtra: Salman Khurshid in new book

PTI, Oct 25, 2021, 6:34 PM IST

The Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute ”refutes the idea of Hindu Rashtra” and amplifies the practical handling of sensitive religious concerns in a secular system, former Union law minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid says in his new book.

”Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times”, which was released on Monday, explores the landmark 2019 judgement and says the apex court made a ”delicate balancing effort of subscribing to legal principles and healing a festering civilizational wound”. ”The Supreme Court might have found the Hindu cause marginally more persuasive than the Muslim cause, but it has done a great deal more to facilitate and inspire Muslims to see this as a moment of reconciliation rather than defeat,” Khurshid writes in the book.

”…Muslims, who had all along committed themselves to accepting the court verdict, now have a chance to show grace and generosity, and to reach out to claim a place as contributors to true national integration and unity,” he adds.

On November 9, 2019, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi permitted the construction of a Ram temple at the site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid once stood. It also told the Central government to allot an alternative five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at a ”prominent” place in the Uttar Pradesh town.

With this, it sought to end the fractious Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute over the spot where many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born. On December 6, 1992, the Mughal era Babri Masjid was demolished by ‘kar sevaks’, triggering riots and communal tension in many parts of the country.

”Reaffirmation of India’s secular character in the judgment should not be obscured by the baseline outcome. This is the truth that preceded reconciliation. Furthermore, the direction that 5 acres of other land be given to the Sunni Waqf Board was a gesture that underscored that the court and the nation treat all citizens as equals,” Khurshid argues.

”The court recognized that all citizens have their respective faiths and manners of worship, and that while faith has a place in our national life, it does not trump legal rights in an unqualified sweep,” he adds.

In the 354-page book, the long-time Congress leader analyses the juridical history and consequences of the long-standing Ayodhya dispute and explains ”how it offers a great opportunity for the reaffirmation of India as a secular society”.

“It is a decision that refutes the idea of Hindu Rashtra and amplifies the practical handling of sensitive religious concerns in a secular system. “Upholding the purpose and effect of the Places of Worship Act, among other matters, is a clear indication that the secular edifice of India and the commitment of its highest court to the Constitutional principles we cherish have not only remained undisturbed but have indeed been fortified,” Khurshid writes The senior Congress leader also talks about the clear condemnation by the highest court of the land of the ”acts of intrusion” in 1949 — when the idol of Ram Lalla was placed under the middle dome of the mosque — as indeed of the ”act of vandalism” when the mosque was demolished in 1992.

”The court was also clear that the Archaeological Survey of India report showing evidence of previous civilizations did not prove that a temple, least of all a Ram temple, was demolished to construct the Babri Masjid under the instructions of Emperor Babar,” he notes.

Construction work on the Ram temple in Ayodhya is going on in full swing. The ground floor, where the sanctum sanctorum will be located and an idol of Ram Lalla placed, is expected to be open for devotees by December 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had performed the Bhumi Pujan at the Ram Janmabhoomi in August 2020.

According to Khurshid, only time will tell whether the Supreme Court through its verdict ”laid the foundation of a grand reconciliation or perpetuated the stress of majoritarian might versus right, or a mixture of the two?” ”The Supreme Court has put its stamp on history and in a sense turned the last page. It has, in the process, written itself into the history of Ayodhya… The last word, as always, will be that of time,” he says.

Khurshid, also a senior Supreme Court advocate, has written several books, including ”At Home in India”, ”Triple Talaq” and ”The Invisible Muslim”. ”Sunrise Over Ayodhya”, priced at Rs 699, is published by Penguin Random House India (PRHI).

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