Saturday, October 2, 2010

Prelude and Epilogue from Justice Khan’s Judgement– Babri Masjid Dispute


Here is a small piece of land (1500 square yards) where angels fear to tread. It is full of innumerable land mines. We are required to clear it. Some very sane elements advised us not to attempt that. We do not propose to rush in like fools lest we are blown. However we have to take risk. It is said that the greatest risk in life is not daring to take risk when occasion for the same arises.

Once angels were made to bow before Man. Sometimes he has to justify the said honour. This is one of those occasions. We have succeeded or failed? No one can be a judge in his own cause.

Accordingly, herein follows the judgment for which the entire country is waiting with bated breath.


My judgment is short, very short. Either I may be admired as an artist who knows where to stop, particularly in such sensitive, delicate matter or I may be castigated for being so casual in such a momentous task. Sometimes patience is intense action, silence is speech and pauses are punches.

I have not delved too deep in the history and the archaeology. This I have done for four reasons. Firstly this exercise was not absolutely essential to decide these suits. Secondly I was not sure as to whether at the end of the tortuous voyage I would have found a treasure or faced a monster (treasure of truth or monster of confusion worst confounded). Thirdly having no pretence of knowledge of history I did not want to be caught in the crossfire of historians. Fourthly, the Supreme Court in Karnataka Board of Waqf Vs. Government of India, 2004 (10) SCC 779 has held in Para-8 as follows:-

“As far as a title suit of civil nature is concerned, there is no room for historical facts and claims. Reliance on borderline historical facts will lead to erroneous conclusions.”

As this judgment is not finally deciding the matter and as the most crucial stage is to come after it hence I remind both the warring factions of the following.

The one quality which epitomized the character of Ram is tyag (sacrifice).

When prophet Mohammad entered into a treaty with the rival group at Hudayliyah, it appeared to be abject surrender even to his staunch supporters. However the Quran described that as clear victory and it did prove so. Within a short span therefrom Muslims entered the Mecca as victors, and not a drop of blood was shed.

Under the sub-heading of demolition I have admired our resilience. However we must realise that such things do not happen in quick succession. Another fall and we may not be able to rise again, at least quickly. Today the pace of the world is faster than it was in 1992. We may be crushed.

I quote two verses of Iqbal which were also quoted by Justice R.S. Dhawan in A.C. Datt vs. Rajiv Gandhi, AIR 1990 Allahabad 38:


An observation of Darwin is also worth quoting at this juncture (what an authority to quote in a religious matter/ dispute!):

“Only those species survived which collaborated and improvised.”

Muslims must also ponder that at present the entire world wants to know the exact teaching of Islam in respect of relationship of Muslims with others. Hostility – peace – friendship – tolerance - opportunity to impress others with the Message -  opportunity to strike wherever and whenever possible – or what? In this regard Muslims in India enjoy a unique position. They have been rulers here, they have been ruled and now they are sharers in power (of course junior partners). They are not in majority but they are also not negligible minority (Maximum member of Muslims in any country after Indonesia is in India.) In other countries either the Muslims are in huge majority which makes them indifferent to the problem in question or in negligible minority which makes them redundant. Indian Muslims have also inherited huge legacy of religious learning and knowledge. They are therefore in the best position to tell the world the correct position. Let them start with their role in the resolution of the conflict at hand.

Before parting I thank Hon’ble the Chief Justice C.K. Prasad (now an Hon’ble Judge of Supreme Court) for giving the responsibility and providing opportunity to me to decide this historical case by inducting me in this Bench. We are also thankful to Hon’ble the Chief Justice H.L. Ghokhale (now an Hon’ble Judge of Supreme Court) for inducting Hon’ble Sudhir Agarwal, J.
in this Bench who is extremely labourious, very upright and considerably balanced.

PDF Copy of Justice Khan’s Judgment can be found in my SkyDrive at:

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