Ayodhya order final, Supreme Court dismisses review pleas

There are no grounds whatsoever for interference with its November 9 judgment in the Ayodhya dispute, the Supreme Court said on Thursday while dismissing several review petitions challenging the verdict of the top court.

The petitions were decided in-chamber, as is the norm when it comes to hearing review pleas. Hence there was no open court hearing, and no oral arguments.

“We have carefully gone through the Review Petitions and the connected papers filed therewith. We do not find any ground, whatsoever, to entertain the same. The Review Petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde said in its order.

The bench, which also comprised justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, considered 19 review petitions filed by various parties before turning them down.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) secretary and senior board member Zafaryab Jilani on Thursday said the AIMPLB’s next course of action would be decided after it was clear on what grounds the review petitions were dismissed by the Supreme Court.

“We have come to know through the media that our plea and others’ pleas seeking a review have been cancelled,” Jilani said.

“It will be too early to comment on the dismissal of petitions, as at present, we are not aware on which grounds the petitions have been dismissed. We will have to first discuss things with our lawyer then announce our next course of action,” Jilani said.

The November 9 judgment of the Supreme Court, delivered by a bench headed by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, awarded the 2.77-acre disputed site to Ram Lalla Virajman, the child deity. The bench also ordered that five acres of land at an alternative site should be granted to Muslims for the construction of a new mosque. The court, in its order, acknowledged the existence of a valid mosque at the disputed site and expressly stated that the act of placing idols inside the mosque in 1949, and destruction of the mosque in 1992, were illegal.

Justice Gogoi retired on November 17, after the pronouncement of the judgment, and justice Khanna took his place on the bench.

The Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind was the first party to challenge the verdict of the court, claiming that complete justice can be done in the case only by ordering the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to rebuild the Babri Masjid at the disputed site.

Subsequently, at least seven review petitions were filed with backing of AIMPLB, claiming that the judgment of the court sanctioned serious illegalities.

“An idol as deity cannot be simultaneously illegally placed and legally valid to claim the title,” the petitions filed with the support of AIMPLB argued.

They submitted that the title could not have been awarded to Hindu parties based on exclusive possession of the site since it had been admitted that Muslims entered and prayed at the site till 1949.

Individual Muslim parties also filed review petitions on similar grounds.

From the Hindu side, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha filed a review petition challenging the finding the court that the disputed structure was a mosque. Mahasabha prayed that references in the judgment to “mosque/ Babri Masjid” should be changed to “disputed structure”.

It also challenged the court’s decision to award five acres of land to the Muslims, arguing that since no such prayer was made by the Muslim parties, the court could not have gone beyond the prayers made to give such a direction.

Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind chief Maulana Arshad Madani said though the Muslim body is disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss all petitions seeking a review of its verdict, it will respect it. “We had said this earlier as well that whatever be the Supreme Court’s decision, we will respect it. But we are disappointed,” Madani told news agency PTI.

The Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) welcomed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the review pleas. “The Supreme Court today removed all roadblocks for the construction of the Ram Mandir,” said Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

“We welcome the decision of the apex court to dismiss review petitions in the Ayodhya case,” VHP international president Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje said on Thursday.

The parties now have the option file a curative petition, though the grounds for filing such a petition are very narrow. As per the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Rupa Ashok Hurra case, the petitioners will be entitled to relief in a curative petition only if they establish that they were not given a fair hearing, or that there was bias on the part of the judges.

(With input from HTC, Lucknow)

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