Abdul Bari Masoud | New Delhi
NEW DELHI – Political and social groups and activists expressed their sense of disappointment on Friday that the Supreme Court dismissed all the petitions seeking a review of its November 9 verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi title suit case. This, they said, does not augur well for the health of democracy in the country.
They said it would have been appropriate if the apex court heard the petitioners’ views as they were “deeply aggrieved” by the verdict and felt it “erred in both fact and law”.
The Supreme Court on Thursday summarily dismissed all the 19 review petitions by passing a common order. The petitions had been filed against the court order on November 9 that allotted the Babri Masjid site for construction of a Ram Mandir there. Most of the review pleas were filed on December 9, the last day for filing reviews. The Babri Masjid case was pending with the Supreme Court since 2010. Dismissal of the petitions has almost sealed the verdict, as the petitioners have only one option now; that of filing a curative petition.
Advocate Sharfuddin Ahmad said the court has exercised unusual hurry by rejecting the pleas and by cutting short its own established process and procedure vis-a-vis review petitions. “It did so for no explicit reason. Our party had also filed the petition against the impugned judgement on Babri Masjid on a very pertinent and relevant ground but the court did not look into it,” he said.
Ahmad is national vice president of the Social Democratic party of India (SDPI).
“It is surprising that all review petitions having different grounds, seeking different reliefs and filed by members of different communities were clubbed into two sets, one set for eight contesting parties and other ten review petitions for all the third parties including that of the Social Democratic Party of India,” he said.
He also pointed out that the same court had accepted a review petition in the Sabarimala case, which was also linked to a dispute in a shrine. The SC assigned that review to a larger bench of seven judges. The apex court did not even consider giving its reason for dismissing the Babri review, just as it did not explain the justification for awarding the Babri Masjid site for a Hindu shrine.
The Supreme Court generally lists a case after giving an opportunity for removing defects, if any, and calling on the petitioner to do so in a span of 90 days. The petition is allotted a case number different from the number of its first diary listing, and only then will the case get formally listed for hearing. However, in relation to the Babri Masjid review petitions, all pleas were hurriedly listed in the chamber of the CJI, and after two days the order of rejection was passed, he noted.
Echoing similar views, Jamaat Islami Hind vice president Engineer Mohammad Salim said the manner in which the court summarily struck down all the petitions has disappointed every right-thinking individual. “It was unexpected and very unfortunate that the court, without hearing the petitioners’ grievances, dismissed all the petitions.”
When asked whether the judiciary is acting under the pressure from the political executive, Eng Salim told Caravan Daily that the judiciary in any country should not act under anyone’s influence, but protect and promote the cause of justice-dispensation.
Expressing his disappointment over the order, noted activist Prof Apoornanand said it was a chance for the court to correct the “flaws” in the November 9 verdict, but the court missed such an opportunity by striking down all the petitions in a jiffy. “The Babri judgement has generated a debate on Constitutional propriety, and the court could have put this to rest by hearing the petitions filed by not only the Muslims but non-Muslims too,” he said.
Former vice chancellor of Lucknow University and activist Prof Roop Rekha Verma said, “It was sad that the highest court does not find it fit to help what, according to its own confession, is supported by law.”
Activist Amitabha Basu expressed his shock over the rejection of review petitions and alleged that the Supreme Court has become a kangaroo court in favour of the Hindutva-vadees.” Prof Verma also supported his views saying, “Absolutely true.”
Advocate Ahmad said the SDPI didn’t see this as an end of the road to justice and has started a process of seeking legal advice to go further so that ultimate justice in the Babri Masjid case may be ensured and achieved. Engineer Salim said, “We are consulting our lawyers and legal experts in this regard.”