A review petition will be filed against the Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind announced on Sunday, stressing that mosque land cannot be given up as per the Sharia.
However, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, which has been awarded the alternative five-acre land for mosque by the apex court, as well as Iqbal Ansari, also a main litigant, distanced themselves from the Board's decision and said they would not file a review petition.
The AIMPLB, after a meeting in Lucknow, also said that it was against accepting the five-acre alternative land given for a mosque as it "will neither balance equity nor repair the damage caused" and claimed the verdict had several contradictions. The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, whose former Uttar Pradesh General Secretary M Siddiq was one of the original petitioners, said it will file the review petition soon as the verdict is "not based on evidence and logic".
Jamiat chief Maulana Arshad Madani said in a statement in Delhi that the apex court accepted most of the arguments and evidence of the Muslim parties, but delivered the judgment against them in favour of the Hindu parties. "It is not a prestige issue. This is a matter of Sharia. We can neither give the mosque, nor take anything in lieu of it," Madani told reporters in Lucknow.
The decision by the Jamiat to review the Ayodhya judgment was taken after its highest decision-making body, the working committee, gave its nod for filing the review petition following extensive deliberations involving lawyers and experts.
Sources said Jamiat's working committee was earlier undecided on whether to file a review petition on the verdict and had formed a five-member panel headed by Madani on Friday to take a call on it after consulting with lawyers and experts. "The committee (formed by the Jamiat) was of the view that our review petition will be dismissed, but we have to take this step (of filing the review)," Madani told reporters. He was speaking after attending the AIMPLB meeting where AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi was among those present. "The AIMPLB, which is not a direct party to the case, will continue to play the role of guiding force for the litigants and in managing the case.
Out of the Muslim petitioners, at least five seem to be backing a review with the Jamiat already announcing that it will do so," AIMPLB member Kamal Farooqui told PTI after the Board's meeting in Lucknow's Mumtaz College. AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani told reporters after the meeting, "The land of the mosque belongs to Allah and under the Sharia, it cannot be given to anybody." "The Board has also categorically stated that it was against taking five-acre land in Ayodhya in lieu of the mosque.
The board is of the view that there cannot be any alternative to the mosque," he said. The installation of a statue of Lord Ram inside the Babri Masjid in the night of December 23, 1949, "was unconstitutional", Jilani said, adding, "So, how did the Supreme Court consider them as 'araadhya' (eligible for worship). They (idols) cannot be considered as 'araadhya' (eligible for worship) even as per Hindu religion." "We feel that Sunni Waqf Board shall give respect to this view of the community at large," the AIMPLB said. "The AIMPLB is not doing any politics over the Ayodhya issue, but is fighting for its constitutional rights," he said, replying to a question during the press conference after the meeting.
However, Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Farooqui reminded the AIMPLB that it had repeatedly said earlier that it would abide by the verdict. "Then why an appeal is being made now.... The Board may have decided to file a review petition, but the stand of the Sunni Waqf Board of not to do so remains," he said. He said a decision on accepting the five-acre land will be taken at the meeting of the Waqf Board on November 26. Opposing any review plea, Ansari also told PTI in Ayodhya, "My views are different from that of the Board and want an end to the mandir-masjid issue at this very point. There is no use of going for the review as the outcome will remain the same...the move will also vitiate the harmonious atmosphere."
The AIMPLB, in a statement later, said the Muslim community contested this litigation to ensure and secure the fundamental values guaranteed in the Constitution. "It is clear that the state has no religion and secularism is basic feature of the Constitution. Earlier the court's judgments have recorded that the state's action were discriminatory against one religion favouring the other religion. In 1994, the Supreme Court has held that the act of demolition of mosque in 1992 was a 'national shame' and that it shook the faith of the minorities in the rule of law and constitutional process," it said.
The court further stated that this "failure amounted to betrayal meted out to the Muslim community at large", it said. "Justice was not done fully as Muslims cannot shift the mosque, therefore, accepting an alternative land for the mosque is absolutely out of the question," Madani was quoted as saying by the Jamiat statement. Jamiat's former Uttar Pradesh General Secretary M Siddiq was one of the original petitioners in the case. The Jamiat's present UP general secretary Ashhad Rashidi later became the petitioner in the case, Jamiat secretary Fazlur Rehman said.