Ayodhya verdict neither provided equity nor justice, will consider review plea: Muslim body

Abantika Ghosh
AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani addresses the media on the Ayodhya verdict on Saturday. (Express photo/Amit Mehra)

After a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court allotted the disputed Ayodhya land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said Saturday that the verdict "neither provided equity nor justice", and that it might consider filing a review plea in the coming days.

Addressing the media outside the Supreme Court, AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani said, "The judgement has just been pronounced, it says a lot of things about the Constitution and about secularism. We are very dissatisfied with this judgement. Article 142 does not let you do this."

Jilani was a part of the board’s legal team that fought the case in the Allahabad High Court and subsequently in the apex court.

Raising objections to certain parts of the verdict, Jilani said, "We are dissatisfied that the inner courtyard where prayers were offered was given to the other side. Neither equity nor justice has been served."

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"As per the Sharia law, we cannot give away a mosque; however, we will abide by the court’s verdict. There is no evidence on what happened on that land between the 12th century and 1528. The Hindus claim that the temple was present since the Vikramaditya era but there is no evidence on that," he said.

On the allocation of a separate plot of land for the Muslim community, Jilani said the decades-long dispute was about the mosque, and not about land.

"You cannot exchange land for a mosque; it was not about land but about a mosque. They have accepted that placing the idols in 1949 was desecration but the decision has still favoured the other party," he said.

AIMPLB member Kamal Farooqui said: “It was never about land. They can take 100 acres from us if they want.”

Jilani said that certain parts of the judgement "give an impression of further trouble in the future".

Appealing for peace across the country, he said, "This is not somebody’s defeat or victory. We will adopt whatever legal course is possible. We appeal to everyone to maintain peace."

The AIMPLB secretary, however, acknowledged that "parts of the judgement are very important for the secular fabric of the country". "We may file a review petition within 30 days but we cannot say for certain now; a call will be taken after our legal team studies the judgement," he said.

"We have a right to disagree with the judgement but will never say there was any pressure. Anybody can make a mistake. The top court has reviewed its judgement in many cases. If the working committee wants, we will go ahead with the review petition," he added.

Speaking on similar lines, advocate S R Shamshad said, "It seems that the court has exercised extraordinary powers to confer title, which we object to. This is a questionable judgement."

He added, "It was necessary to fight this because we had to tell the world that we didn't like the way the mosque was treated. We hope no future mosques will be touched; this is our expectation in a democratic country in a constitutional setup."

Addressing the media later, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who is also a member of the board, said: “In my personal opinion, we should reject the five-acre land because this is a legal fight. As former CJI Justice Verma said, the top court is supreme not infallible. This country is becoming a Hindu Rashtra, they have started with Ayodhya, and will follow up with NRC, Citizenship Bill etc to that end.”

A visibly disheartened member of the board’s legal team described the verdict as “arbitrary” and said: “Is there really any point in asking for the review of a unanimous judgement? There is nobody who has dissented”.

Jilani said: “Article 142 does not allow you (SC) to do this. The court said that there is evidence of a 12th century temple but nothing to show what happened to that land between then and 1528. The Hindu side, on the other hand, claims that the temple is from Vikaramaditya’s era who was a contemporary of Jesus Christ but did not give any evidence for that.”