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Ordinance is the only option left with the Central government for building Ram Temple
On October 29, when the Supreme Court adjourned the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute case to the first week of January, 2019, leaving for the yet to be constituted bench to decide upon the matter, all involved parties were left disappointed.

Dismissing the UP government's plea for an urgent hearing, the bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that this is not a priority issue for them. That's why many have started questioning the judges about the judicial definition of priority. If courts can be opened at midnight for delivering verdict on Yakub Memon or four senior judges can hold an unprecedented press conference against the CJI, does the definition of priority hold a different interpretation for judges? Both Hindus and Muslims were almost sure that the hearing will commence on October 29.

However, a closer look at the case will reveal that the SC's adjourning the matter for January 2019 is not a wrong thing. First of all, there's only a three-week period left for the courts to work till January since winter vacations soon begin. A new bench has to go through the voluminous documents before start hearing.

The only thing objectionable is that the Supreme Court observed that the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute case wasn't a priority. Yakub Memon's case was related to one of the biggest and gravest terror attacks that had ever been carried out on Indian soil, so it was certainly a priority. Although the press conference by judges was a wrong thing, but it can't be attributed to the SC as it was a personal misadventure by the judges.

The SC said that since it doesn't see the Ayodhya case as an issue of faith, the matter would be heard as a land dispute, which isn't a priority. However, I still think that the term "priority" could have been avoided in the observation, considering the sentiments of the people associated with the case, across multiple faiths.

As the politics on Ayodhya took off, mostly by the opposition parties cornering the BJP, chorus for ordinance call has grown asking the Centre to bring in a law so that Ram Temple can be built. However, the legal hassle in that is that since the matter is sub judice, even if an ordinance is brought, it would be challenged in court.

The way, in which the Modi government has been cornered and pressurized, I think it will be compelled to table a bill first and then if that bill gets rejected, then bring in an ordinance. The Modi government will not want to lose in the upcoming general elections, since in India elections are won or lost on sentimental issues. The political situation is expected to become so grave in the coming days that government would be left with no other option but to go for the bill/ordinance route.

Question is whether bill or ordinance route is constitutionally valid or not. Can it stand on the scrutiny by court? I think a bill or ordinance is constitutionally valid. The court can't strike down the bill or ordinance. The reason is very simple. In 1993 the Central government had acquired 67 acres of land in Ayodhya including the disputed 2.77 acres of through Ayodhya Act, 1993. In 1994, the SC upheld the Constitutional validity of the acquisition although it struck down section 4(3) which provided for abatement of all legal proceedings relating to the disputed area and thus revived the consolidated title suit which was taken up by the SC on appeal against the Allahabad High Court's verdict. 

Thus technically, the land belongs to the Central government (leased to the UP government at the moment). The dispute as per the court's interpretation is the title issue. That means in strict legal language which party will get compensation for which land of the acquired portion. That's all. The SC has already upheld the constitutional validity of the acquisition and none is challenging it. Thus, whichever way SC gives its verdict the only issue remains who gets how much compensation. That's the way the court sees it.

So if the Central government brings in a law for construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya, and a Masjid in Ayodhya or Lucknow, or wherever it found better, the SC won't bother meddling in the issue. It would have been better if the apex court had given a verdict in favour of any of the parties because after acquisition, no party will get the land back as the ownership is with the Central government.

The Modi government had thought that the verdict would be a good time for tabling a bill, or else a mutual understanding between communities could be reached, for which Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had also, tried. However, the present situation is compelling for the government to take the ordinance route which is not unconstitutional although it is likely to fuel communal disharmony. But then, when a ruling party cornered, it can't sacrifice its political interests, thus despite all the possible chaos, the government is left with no other option.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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