Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan was critical of the judgment delivered in the Ayodhya title suits on Thursday, saying: “This is panchayati justice which takes away the legal rights of Muslims and converts the moral sentimental entitlements of Hindus into legal rights.”
Mr. Dhavan said the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, had taken place on a Muslim site, and this fact could not be disputed and rendered invisible by pretending that Muslims were not entitled to the site in any way.
“If this panchayati solution is to be endured, the degree of Muslim entitlement should have been left intact so that the site belonged to them,” he said.
Mr. Dhavan said the destruction of the Masjid was akin to the demolition of the Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, and people would say that India's secular justice was majoritarian in nature without lending dignity to India's minority.
Endorsing Mr. Dhavan's views, senior advocate P.P. Rao said: “It is difficult to appreciate how the property can be divided by the court while dismissing the suits. This is nothing but a panchayati type of justice.
“If the court accepts that the Waqf Board is entitled to one-third of the land, it can't dismiss the suit. If the court dismisses the suits, it can't give only a portion of the land. The court has gone beyond the prayers in the suits. When no one had asked for division of the land, how can the court divide the land into three portions? There are prima facie grounds for the parties to go for appeal to the Supreme Court as all of them are aggrieved over the division of the property.”
Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, however, wanted time to go through the full judgment and said: “It is a statesmanship-like judgment and it is good for the country.”
Senior lawyer Harish Salve said: “Going by the gist of the judgment which is available, two of the judges constituting the majority have come to the conclusion that the Hindus and Muslims were in joint possession and have been declared to be joint owners. On that basis, on account of the cross suits, they have ordered a partition — on a one-third each basis.
“It has used the judicial discretion available to a court to recognise the significance of the existing de facto temple on the disputed spot and held that that must go to the Hindus. There is no legal principle preventing judges to exercise statesmanship as long as it is within the framework of the law. A full comment is possible only after analysing the judgment.”
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi expressed satisfaction over the judgment and said: “I think it is a political kind of solution. It has given something to everybody. This seems to be the just possible solution in respecting the sentiments of all parties. We should be progressive on these issues and accept the judgment.”
Senior advocate M.N. Krishnamani expressed happiness over the verdict on the grounds that it recognised the findings of the Archaeological Survey of India that there was a Hindu religious structure under the site.
Mr. Krishnamani appealed to Muslims not to go to the Supreme Court, and to give up the one-third land that had been given to them so that a temple for Lord Ram could be built.
President of the All-India Bar Association Adish Aggarwala said: “By this judgment everybody has won. No one has lost. This judgment can be practically implemented. Although it is a religious matter and somebody will go to the Supreme Court, I am certain that the Supreme Court will affirm the judgment as it is in the interest of every citizen of India. This will reflect the spirit of religious tolerance.”
Director of the International Council of Jurists S. Prabakaran welcomed the judgment, saying that it would ensure communal harmony in the country.
Mr. Prabakaran wanted both religious communities to accept the verdict in a spirit of give and take and implement the directions to pave the way for the construction of a full-fledged temple for Lord Ram and a mosque on the one-third area of land to be allocated to Muslims.
Advocate Wasim Qadri, while welcoming the judgment, said: “It shows the respect and faith in the judiciary and democracy in this country. This is a victory of governance as per rule of law and constitutional scheme. Though I am not a party, being a like-minded person, this is one way of settling the dispute. This is a good signal for India.”