You cannot keep flogging a dead horse, the Supreme Court told the counsel for the petitioner while winding up a contempt case against former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Uma Bharti et al. for violating the status quo order the apex court had issued with respect to the Babri Masjid in 1992.
The court referred to two facts while deciding to close the proceedings in the case — one, a larger bench of the court considered and decided in 2019 the main issue and permitted the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site, and two, the petitioner Mohammed Aslam is no more.
Nothing survives in the matter now, the court reminded the counsel. And the court is right. The petition was filed in 1992, and was listed on two occasions — November 29, 2001, and April 23, 2010, and disposed of in 2022. Thirty years and several applications for listing of the matter later, nothing survives, not even the petitioner! The court also rejected the counsel’s plea to substitute the petitioner with an amicus curiae.
The court can discover facts that buttress its arguments; but whether they can help meet the ends of justice is the issue. It’s true the larger bench decided the issue but it had also clearly stated that “the destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law”. One fails to understand the logic of the court in choosing to ignore that part of the verdict which is directly linked to the case before it and instead highlight the decision on a larger issue.
The court’s reasoning would vie with that of the person who sought clemency for being an orphan after being convicted for murdering both his parents.