NEW DELHI: An attempt to advance a Supreme Court hearing on the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute failed today as two judges refused an urgent hearing, saying “permission declined”. The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing organisation, had petitioned the top court to take up the Ayodhya case earlier than January.
“We have already passed the order. The appeals are coming up in January. Permission declined,” said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Last month, the Supreme Court had said in a four-minute hearing that the case would be heard in January. “We have our own priorities,” Chief Justice Gogoi had said, rejecting the Uttar Pradesh government’s argument that it was a 100-year-old dispute that should be taken up on priority.
The court ruling has triggered demands within the BJP and various groups linked to its ideological mentor RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) for an ordinance or special order by the central government to facilitate a Ram temple at the site.
Some 14 petitions have challenged the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict partitioning the land into three, between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Lord Ram, a party to the case).
The Ayodhya title suit involves the site where the 16th-century Babri mosque was razed in December 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Just ahead of elections in states and the 2019 national polls, the Ayodhya temple has once again come to the forefront of political rhetoric.
Over the years, the BJP has maintained a difficult juggle between the temple agenda of its core supporters and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of “vikas” or development, aimed at pulling in a broader section of citizens.
The RSS has said the Supreme Court should take an early decision and if there are hurdles in the path of a temple at the site, the government should bring a law soon.
Many anticipated an early hearing after the court declined to review a 1994 ruling that the government can acquire land that a mosque is built on as a mosque is not integral to Islam. Many believed that decision meant the temple-mosque dispute can be taken up without any more delay.
The court’s decision to move the case to January is seen to have stymied hopes for a verdict before the national election due early next year.