Will Ayodhya Verdict be a Template for Sabarimala Ruling Next Week? Ram Lalla Lawyer Explains

Illustration by Mir Suhail.

Illustration by Mir Suhail.

Dismissing the Muslim Law Board’s assertion that it would file a review plea against the Ayodhya verdict, Bhat said there is 'nothing like an appeal against the present judgment'.

Deepa Balakrishnan

With the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the construction of a Ram Mandir on the disputed site in Ayodhya, the advocate on record for deity Ram Lalla believes the judgment would also have a bearing on the review petition in the Sabarimala case, in which an order is expected next week.

Explaining the reason behind his assertion, KN Bhat told News18 that in the Ayodhya verdict, the court has held that the issue was not whether the disputed land was the birth place of Lord Ram but whether Hindus believed it was the birthplace. “That has been proved and in these matters, belief should not be questioned,” he said.

Bhat said the main argument in the Sabarimala case also centered on belief. “The argument that the court (last year) did not accept fully was whether Hindus believe women's entry of a particular area for this temple must be banned. There is no scientific reason, but the devotees believe this is what it is,” he added.

A five judge Constitution Bench led by then CJI Dipak Misea had in its September 28, 2018, judgment, held that not allowing women in their “menstruating years” into the Sabarimala is ultra vires the constitution, and all women should be allowed to enter the shrine. A total of 65 review petitions were filed against the order and a Constitution Bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi will pronounce its verdict on the pleas next week.

The main contention of the petitioners was that the practice of not allowing women into the shrine was because of the celibate character of the deity. They also stated that constitutional morality should not be applied to matters of faith.

Bhat said that what was also important was that in the Sabarimala case, the people who objected to women not being allowed to enter the shrine were not women. “It is an organisation represented by five men - and no woman has come and said we have been denied the right to go to Sabarimala. So the religious practice of one religion has been challenged by someone else and taken (up),” the lawyer added.

He also pointed out the dissenting opinion of Justice Indu Malhotra in the Sabaramila case. “She had correctly pointed out that, what is my faith is my faith; no one can go and question it. Because religion is a matter of faith,” he said.

Dismissing the Muslim Law Board’s assertion that it would file a review plea against the Ayodhya verdict, Bhat said there is “nothing like an appeal against the present judgment”.

He said that a review is provided under the rules, and on limited grounds: that is to say, if there are some errors apparent on the face of the judgment, they can correct it. That another view is possible is not a ground for review, he said.

When asked specifically if he though there were no grounds for reviewing Saturday’s ruling, he said no. “No. I have practiced for 50 years in Supreme Court, so in my experience, hardly a few review petitions have been allowed - not that they have not been. And technically, after the review, there is a curative petition. In the book, it is there, but generally they are all useless,” he asserted.

The senior Supreme Court counsel further said he was fully satisfied with the order in the Ayodhya case and “couldn’t have written a better order”. He said Hindus getting the particular 2.77 acres and Muslims being given sufficient area to build a mosque elsewhere was exactly what he had hoped for.

On the Supreme Court’s direction that the central government form a trust for the construction of the temple, Bhatr said that was only a procedure.

“They want to see a temple in Ayodhya is constructed shortly - and it is not used for anything else. And this is to be overseen by a trust,” he said, adding that he would not be involved in that.

“I have run away from Delhi… that is one more headache I don't want to take at this age,” he said.

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