If the Ram temple cauldron starts simmering around major elections, does it not make sense for every right thinking Indian to resolve this issue once for all in order to ensure communal harmony and peace is not periodically threatened? Yet, successive governments since the Partition have only pushed the issue under the carpet, hoping that somehow it would resolve itself.
In this regard, the higher courts are no less to blame, sitting on the title suit filed by rival groups in Ayodhya in the late 40s which now lingers in the highest court in the land. Either the Supreme Court does not fully appreciate the urgency of disposing the case, or it is chary of pronouncing judgement in a case which is bound to leave one or the other party very, very dissatisfied. But if the Supreme Court does not take a call on the ownership of the disputed piece of land in Ayodhya measuring less than a mere three acres, how can anyone blame the ruling parties for failing to do so?
The Supreme Court is wrong in pushing the Ram temple case on the backburner, whereas, in the fitness of things, it ought to have accorded it top priority. A court, which is ever willing to wade into a host of matters strictly out of its constitutionally mandated roles and functions, a court which can hold special hearings on short notice on PILs of even frivolous nature, that court is shy of disposing of the batch of appeals against the Allahabad High Court judgement in the Ayodhya title suit for unstated reasons. It is shocking, to say the least.
Given the huge sensitivity of the matter, the highest court had every reason to give an early order. Its apolitical character would have served as a strong bulwark against charges of partisanship. Unfortunately, the role of the Congress Party in browbeating the court just when it might have been ready to dispose of the long-pending suits was most dastardly. Had its early leaders not been so woolly-headed, not so removed from the ground realities, the Ram temple issue would not have assumed such dire proportions, threatening to rend the society apart on religious grounds.
Even belatedly when the Allahabad High Court apportioned the disputed plot between the warring parties, giving two-thirds to the temple protagonists and one-third to the Babri backers, the Congress leadership ran for shelter, shutting out the huge opportunity for resolving this intractable problem. It arranged to have the order challenged in the Supreme Court which, in turn, treated it as just another litigation, relegating it to lowest possible priority. Kapil Sibal’s mischievous threat to impeach the former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was aimed at preventing him from taking up this historic case during his tenure. Now, the present CJI feels no urgency to hear it, having put it off till January.
Quite clearly, what the politicians cannot resolve, they want to make sure that they do not even by default. But resolve the issue must be. The way various parties have again begun to agitate for the temple during the ongoing State elections, and ahead of the Lok Sabha poll next year, serves as another reminder to the Supreme Court that it does not help keeping this matter of such a huge national importance pending indefinitely.
The court can endorse the Allahabad High Court decision, reject it, modify it, or ask for more clarifications, but put off hearing in the matter it must not do. The Congress Party, guilty of creating the problem, and leaving it smoldering for the future generations to burn their fingers, has now played a destructive role in pressuring the highest court to delay hearing for its own political convenience. The test of judicial leadership and character lies in grappling with the issue before it up front. Will the current CJI rise to the occasion? We hope he does.