Dr Subramanian Swamy has been the prime mover in seeking a court verdict on the Ram Janmabhumi. He has several arguments to offer in the Ram temple-Babri mosque case, which came up for hearing in the Supreme Court on 5 December. The Hindus, argued the BJP leader and MP, had a valid claim to the site in Ayodhya, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. As the Supreme Court has set the next date of hearing for 8 February 2018, Swamy says he is hopeful of a victory for the Nirmohi Akhara, the Hindu litigant. Excerpts:
Q: The JNU recently cancelled an event where you were scheduled to talk about the Ram temple in Ayodhya. You have said they were afraid of your powerful arguments. What are those powerful arguments?
A: It is now established that there was a pre-existing temple, and a mosque was built on it by using parts of that temple as its construction material. This was scientifically confirmed when the Allahabad High Court, on the direction of the Supreme Court, asked the Archaeological Survey of India for a thorough analysis of whether there was a pre-existing temple and the ASI assigned this task to two of our best known archaeologists, B.B. Lal and K.K. Mohammad. After two years, they gave a unanimous report, after using the most advanced scientific methods. Their principal conclusion was that below where the masjid stood, the ground still exhibited a very large Vaishnav temple and that many of its parts were indeed used for building the Babri Masjid. The Allahabad High Court has accepted this and it is not under challenge in the Supreme Court.
Second is that the Supreme Court constitutional bench of 1994 had asked the then (P.V.) Narasimha Rao government to file an affidavit as what could be the government’s approach to solve this problem and the then Solicitor General filed an affidavit in which he declared that if it was proved that there was a pre-existing temple, after which only the masjid was constructed, then the government’s decision would be to hand over the land to the Hindus to build the temple. This is recorded by the Supreme Court in its constitutional bench judgement of 1994, which is titled as Faruqui vs Union of India. Since it was an affidavit filed by a government of the day in the Supreme Court, all successive governments are bound by it. The government, subsequent to the findings by the ASI, are anyway committed to handing over the land to the Hindus to build a temple. However, the subsequent governments were not so inclined to act on it.
Q: Including the Vajpayee government?
A: Including the Vajpayee government.
Q: The Allahabad High Court has trifurcated the disputed land between the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board.
A: The Sunni Waqf Board was, in fact, not named. The Allahabad High Court in its 2010 judgement assigned two-thirds of the land to the Hindus to build a temple. The third part was given away to the Muslims for the sake of communal harmony; the court did not mention the Sunni Waqf Board. The HC established that Ram, as per faith, was born exactly at the spot where the central dome of the Babri Masjid stood. The Sunni Waqf Board’s claim that a foreigner called Babar captured the Janmabhumi and the Muslims had been in possession of it for 500 years was rejected by the court; Babar didn’t have any right to acquire land.
Q: Why do you suppose the Hindus’ claim over the land prevails over that of the Muslims?
A: In the Hindus’ scheme of things, a temple constructed following a pran-pratishtha puja implies that the deity has entered the idol and the deity becomes the permanent owner of the place. Others can become trustees, but Ram Lalla has been and continues to be the owner of the Janmabhumi.
In the present hearing, the argument made by the Sunni Waqf Board is that this property belongs to them. It is a property claim. But the Hindus’ claim is less about property and more about faith, that Ram was born on a particular spot—the central dome of the Babri Masjid.
I have introduced a new argument in court that since the Allahabad High Court has said that Ram was indeed born at the spot where the central dome of the Babri Masjid was located, it is our fundamental right to worship there. Since my contending party is claiming a right to property, it is a clash between my fundamental right and their ordinary property right. The Supreme Court has always maintained that in any such clash, the fundamental right will prevail. Since it is about a Hindu’s fundamental right to worship, any Hindu is a party to the case.
Q: But Kapil Sibal said he was aggrieved that somebody who is not a party to this case mentions it and the case gets listed.
A: The court has rejected that contention. So it is not worth commenting on.
Q: What are your present observations on the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid case?
A: As of now, there are no answers to two major questions. One is regarding the government’s commitment to hand over the land to the Hindus to build a temple, following the ASI’s findings. And two, the argument that I have introduced in court, regarding every Hindu’s fundamental right to worship at the exact spot where Ram was born.
A new controversy has arisen. The person who built the Babri Masjid was a Shia commander-in-chief of Babar. The only authority on a masjid is a mutwali, which is a hereditary post. The descendant of the Shia commander is still alive and he and the Shia Waqf Board have declared that they would be happy if the mosque is constructed in Lucknow at a site where the Shias are present in large numbers.
Q: Don’t Muslims also have a fundamental right to worship at a place which had been a mosque for 500 years?
A: The SC constitutional bench in paragraph 82 of its judgement stated that after a careful study of the Islamic law, it can be concluded that the masjid is not an essential part of the Islamic religion and, so, it can be demolished or shifted. This is also the position of Muslim majority countries, whether a democracy or monarchy. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan also hold that a masjid can be shifted as it is essentially a place for offering namaz. Google shows that in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, masjids are regularly demolished to build highways, roads, etc.
Q: So what happens to the Babri Masjid?
A: In Ayodhya, we can search areas where Muslims are in concentration and the masjid can be built. One such area is at the border between Ayodhya district and Dr Ambedkar Nagar district.
Q: You have alleged that Kapil Sibal is giving political limelight to the case by asking the court to defer hearing till July 2019, which is to say till the next general elections.
A: They are trying to delay the case by raising false issues. Sibal lied in court that the hearing of the case should be deferred as they did not receive the required documents from our side. But we had submitted those documents and we showed him the signatures of his junior lawyers receiving those documents. Upon this, he simply said that somehow those documents had not reached him.
Q: Are you confident when the Supreme Court hears the case in February 2018, the Hindus will win?
A: On the merit of our documents and other evidences, we are confident we will win. The Allahabad High Court, in fact, took only 90 days to arrive at a judgement, even though at that time everything was done from a primary stage, including preparing the documentation. It is just that the case was not being listed.
Q: If the claims of the Hindus are so pronounced, why is that there is such resentment to building a temple at the site from a section of the people, including academicians of repute?
A: The part of the problem is that they don’t do any study or research.