As the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya approaches, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice D Y Chandrachud sheds light on the complexities and challenges faced during the formulation of the landmark Ayodhya Ram Mandir land judgment. His insights reveal a meticulous process undertaken by the five-member constitutional bench, led by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, to present a unified voice of the court, rather than attributing the verdict to any individual judge. CJI Chandrachud emphasized the historical conflict and diverse viewpoints surrounding the case, prompting the decision to keep the authorship anonymous. The goal was to convey a message of unity among the bench members, not just in the ultimate outcome but also in the reasons outlined in the judgment. The fear of backlash from those desiring a different outcome drove this decision, acknowledging the inherent challenge of pleasing all parties involved in the dispute. The bench, faced with the Herculean task of balancing irreconcilable interests intertwined with matters of faith, evidence, history, religion, and politics, recognized the multidimensional nature of the Ayodhya land dispute. Justice Gogoi’s bench departed from the notion of a mere title dispute, delving into the realms of “mind, heart, and healing.”
The examination of 11,500 records spread over 38,147 pages during the case’s hearing underscored the complexity of the issue. The Ayodhya land dispute was not merely about property; it encompassed the intricacies of emotions and the need for healing. The unanimous judgment provided a template for addressing the wrongs of the past, offering a significant and relevant guide for future cases with similar complexities. The bench’s departure from the previous stand that it was purely a title dispute requiring resolution based on evidence presented in court marked a paradigm shift. Beyond the year 1528 when the Babri Masjid was built, the court considered crucial aspects relevant to arriving at a fair decision. The acknowledgment that the past continues to influence the present resonates in the context of political parties, including the Congress, grappling with the dual challenge of participating in the temple’s consecration while maintaining a safe distance from the BJP’s attempts to capitalize on the event for political gain ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections. The court’s declaration that the issue transcended a mere 1,500 square feet of land demonstrated a profound understanding of deeper sentiments at play.
The Ayodhya verdict also had implications for other cases of a similar nature. The refusal to reopen the settled issue in the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case, stating that a mosque is not an essential part of worship in Islam, broadened the court’s perspective. This decision set a precedent, implying that issues should be considered in the context in which they arise, incorporating factors previously deemed extraneous. In a parallel scenario, the Supreme Court recently dismissed an appeal against the Allahabad High Court’s order rejecting a PIL seeking recognition of Mathura’s ShahiIdgah Mosque site as Krishna Janmabhoomi. The court’s broadening perspective on contextual aspects and the rejection of the appeal may serve as a template for similar cases in the future. As the nation anticipates the consecration of the Ram Temple, the Ayodhya verdict stands not just as a resolution to a land dispute but as a guidepost for future deliberations, emphasizing the importance of considering the complex interplay of history, faith, and sentiment.