The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on November 17 declined the five acres of land allotted to Muslims in Ayodhya and decided to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute case.
The “restitution by granting five acres of land, where fundamental values have been damaged to the extent of causing national shame, will not in any manner heal the wounds caused,” the Board said here, after a meeting of its working committee, chaired by president Maulana Sayyad Mohammad Rabe Hassani Nadwi.
The two decisions were taken through a “unanimous resolution,” Board secretary Zafaryab Jilani told the media.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hindu president Arshad Madni issued a statement in favour of filing a review petition and argued that there was no question of taking up any alternative land for a mosque.
The Board argued that mosques “are essential for the religious practice of Muslims” and that “building the same mosque at some other site in situations like this is also not permissible as per Islamic Law.” “We, on behalf of the community at large, make it clear that the five-acre land, as directed in the present judgment, will neither balance equity nor repair the damage caused in the country,” the AIMPLB said in a separate statement. Stating that there was “no dearth” of mosques in Ayodhya, 27 of them functional, Mr. Jilani said the matter was not about a mosque but “rights to a land” and justice.
The AIMPLB argued that it decided in favour of filing a review petition, claiming there were “apparent errors in the verdict.”
Board member Qasim Rasool Ilyas said, “It was felt at the meeting that not only were there several self-contradictory points in the verdict of the Supreme Court, on several points it was also beyond comprehension, and prima facie appears to be inappropriate.”
Mr. Ilyas also asked whether the placing of idols of Lord Ram under the dome of the Babri Masjid “by force” on the intervening night of December 22-23, 1949, was “illegal”, how were such illegally placed idols considered a deity? Even under “Hindu dharma shastra,” they could not be a deity, he argued.
Further, the AIMPLB asked if “it was proven that Muslims had possession of the Babri Masjid from 1857 to 1949 and also offered ‘namaz’ there,” on what basis was the land of the mosque given to Ram Lalla?
Land exchange barred
A third point raised by the Board was related to the use of Article 142 by the court. Mr. Ilyas said that while using Article 142, the judges did not consider that the exchange or transfer of masjid land was barred under Sections 104-A and 51(1) of the Waqf Act.
How could another piece of land be given in exchange for the masjid land, going against the statute and legal restrictions, he asked.
The AIMPLB’s decision stands in contrast to the stance of the Sunni Central Waqf Board, whose chairman Zufar Faruqui, on the day of the verdict, stated it would not go in for any review of the Supreme Court ruling or file any curative petition. Whether the Sunni Waqf Board would accept the five-acre land to be allotted to it by the Central government on the directions of the court would be decided at a meeting on November 26.
Asked to explain the AIMPLB’s locus standi , as the court directed that the land be given to the Sunni Waqf Board, Mr. Jilani said the AIMPLB “represents the Muslims” and the case was filed on behalf of the community and not the Sunni Waqf Board alone.
He also said that rejecting the land would not amount to contempt as the directions of the apex court were to the Central government and not to the Muslim community.
Mr. Jilani said three of the six Muslim plaintiffs in the case, Mohammad Umar, Maulana Mehfuz ur Rehman and Misbah ud Din, had already given their consent for the review petition, which would be be filed within 30 days of the verdict.
Iqbal Ansari, one of the litigants, stayed away from the meeting and said he did not seek any review petition.
He argued the move was pointless and wanted to avoid anything that could vitiate the atmosphere in the country.
“Now that the court has decided, we will follow the court verdict. Now I don’t need to pursue it further,” Mr. Ansari said. He, however, added that other litigants were free to file a review petition if they wished.
Asked about Mr. Ansari’s stance, Mr. Jilani alleged that the former could have been pressured by the Ayodhya administration to not issue statements against the verdict.