Interview with Ravi Shankar Prasad, counsel for the Hindu Mahasabha and a BJP general secretary.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, the BJP's national general secretary and chief spokesman, represented the Hindu Mahasabha, which fought the case on behalf of Ram Lalla Viraajman, the deity of Ram Lalla. The deity has been awarded one-third of the disputed land. Ravi Shankar Prasad explains how the concept of the deity being a party to a title suit is legally valid and why the way forward now is the route of reconciliation. Otherwise, how are you going to ensure that exactly one-third of the land is given to each party? Are you going to sit with an inch tape to measure, and even if you do that, can it ever be done to each party's satisfaction? he asked in this interview with Frontline. Excerpts:
The verdict seems to be based more on faith and belief and less on historical facts and evidence. Is this a good precedent?
The answer to this question lies in the specific points on which the court was to adjudicate. One of the points the court was supposed to look into was whether the disputed place was believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Ram and whether this was the place where they have been worshipping since time immemorial. Muslims never questioned the fact that Ayodhya is sacred to Hindus, they never questioned the fact that Ram was born in Ayodhya, and they never questioned the fact that Ram is divine to Hindus. Their only objection was to the exact place where Hindus believed Ram was born, and in this light the judges did well to look into faith and belief.
Let me add, the verdict about Ram having been born where the idols are placed and worshipped right now was given by all the three judges unanimously.
But making Ram Lalla a party to the title suit and even the court accepting this concept and ordering that one-third of the disputed land be given to the deity, how far is this legally justified?
The concept of deity as defined in Hindu religion is a legally accepted concept in law. I can quote at least 50 judgments to the effect that courts have accepted the existence of deity. A deity is a uniquely Hindu concept, which means a representative of God, which is one, omnipresent, permanent and inevitable. As per this concept the Ganga becomes a deity, the sangam of the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers is a deity, the entire Mount Kailas becomes a deity because Lord Siva is believed to be residing there. And this concept of deity is accepted by the law as well. It is legally valid and hence can be made a party to a law suit. It is also significant that all three judges have granted the plea of the deity, Justice Agarwal and Justice Sharma directly and Justice Khan indirectly.
But when the court has accepted that the idol was put inside the masjid on the night of December 22-23, 1949, how can this idol be described as a deity?
By virtue of Hindu faith, the Ramjanmasthan [the birthplace of Lord Ram] itself has become a deity, whether there was an idol or not. It is this concept of the janmasthan having acquired the status of a deity that the court has accepted.
What next? How do you think the place is going to be divided in three parts? Is it feasible?
The only road forward is the road of reconciliation. Either you sit and talk things out or go to the Supreme Court and spend another 60 years debating the issue and then sit with an inch tape [in case the verdict is upheld] and measure one-third part for each. Even if you do it, it can never be done to everybody's satisfaction and a point of dispute will continue to exist.
Since Muslims have never claimed that this mosque was an integral part of their faith, which Ram Lalla is for Hindus, the best option would be to sit down and talk and reconcile in the larger interest of all. This spirit of amity and reconciliation will be good for the larger canvas concerning all parties.
Do you think such reconciliation is possible because the other party might see it more as arm-twisting?
That, unfortunately, will be an extremely skewed way of interpreting things, which is being done by pseudo secularists. Muslims should be wary of any such agenda and make good of this larger horizon that has been made available to them through the court for reconciliation. I am hopeful saner and sober voices from amongst Muslims will emerge in due course and things will be sorted out sitting across the table. I believe a large chunk of the Muslim population will come forward and help in building the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
I appeal to Muslims to take forward the spirit of reconciliation that this court verdict has provided. I am hopeful a larger consensus for amity and reconciliation will emerge. We should allow the process to go on without letting vested interests derail it. Muslims should take the hint in the judgment and move forward.