One of the three judges held that the part of the disputed area is the “place of birth of Lord Ram as per faith and belief of the Hindus” (Justice Agarwal, para 4566[i]). Another held that “The disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Ram … Hindus have been worshipping the place … and visiting as a sacred place of pilgrimage since time immemorial”. (Justice Dharam Veer Sharma, Issues for Briefing, Nos. 1, 6).
We are concerned that key parts of the judgement and the consequent division of the disputed area are based not on historical fact or undisputed archaeological enquiry, but on an interpretation of faith. The issue is not only that the extent or intensity of faith is difficult to define or determine. The key issue is that faith, whether majoritarian or minority faith, cannot be the basis of an enlightened jurisprudence in a modern democratic polity. By endorsing faith as the basis for the pronouncement, this judgement is deeply regressive, even communal. It is an implicit endorsement of a majoritarian politics that we deeply abhor, and which people’s movements have fought against for years. By foregrounding faith, it sets a dangerous precedent whose implications we cannot even anticipate and which we may suffer in the future.
We, like innumerable people in this country, welcome the fact that this order has been received with circumspection and not immediately resulted in senseless conflict. The key issue, however, is whether justice has been served by this judgement. PUDR believes it has not.
Moushumi Basu, Asish Gupta