Rational thinking can sometimes be such a stupid activity. The Supreme Court, supreme in its logic, has found it “strange and surprising” that the Allahabad high court had ordered in September 2010 the division into three equal parts of the Babri masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi complex in Ayodhya.
The complex was to be divvied up among the contesting parties, the Sunni Wakf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Ram Lalla Virajman. Well, this wasn’t your ordinary property dispute now. And it wasn’t that we didn’t find it exceedingly “strange and surprising” that a 20-year-old tussle for a structure had a deity as a claimant. But for odd things, smart people pull out smart options. Which is why when the high court had ordered a trifurcation of the site, we found it a very interesting option indeed.
The apex court now says that the high court had no business to slice up the property into three. No one asked for such a division, it says. Well, which party wouldn’t like to retain the whole property instead of being forced to share it with its antagonists? That’s like asking King Solomon, adjudicating the ownership of a baby, to cut the baby up and divide it between two people contesting to be its mother. The slicing up of the Babri-Ramjanmabhoomi real estate into three wasn’t only a practical move that also introduced the concept of sharing to an unsharing lot, but it also played it by the “strange and surprising” rules of the dispute itself — a litigation between a god and a centuries-dead ruler.
But all is not lost. The Supreme Court may have stayed the earlier high court verdict, but it has ordered good old ‘status quo’ on the dispute. Effectively, ‘letting things lie’ has the advantage of being seen as a victory for all three contesting parties.
The Hindu blokes are happy, the Muslim blokes are happy and the supporters on both sides of the fence — Ram Lalla included — are happy that they have come out looking like they are the true claimants of the property in another 100 years.
The only downside is that the religious bit that had been injected in the high court verdict earlier seems to have been taken out again. Which in such a “strange and surprising” case is akin to keeping a matter of mumbo jumbo in a forensic lab’s deep freezer.