If Section 377 can be heard, why not Ayodhya case: Ravi Shankar Prasad
Speaking at the seventh edition of Agenda AajTak on Monday, Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad appealed to the Supreme Court for fast-tracking the hearing of the Ayodhya title suit.
He, however, added the rider that he wasn't urging the Supreme Court as the Union Law Minister, but only as a lawyer who had represented Ram Lalla in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
Ram Lalla is one of the three entities among whom the high court divided the disputed land believed by Hindus to be Ram Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Lord Ram, in 2010. "The Ayodhya dispute matter is pending for 70 years," Prasad said.
"It is pending in the Supreme Court for over eight years... I would appeal to the Supreme Court to fasttrack this matter," he added.
The Law Minister was responding to a query on the refusal by the Supreme Court to take up the decades-old dispute on an urgent basis as pleaded by those who are pitching for a Ram temple. The Supreme Court, hearing petitions challenging the high court order for trifurcation, had adjourned the proceedings to January 2019.
During a 40-minute animated session, Prasad went on to challenge Congress president Rahul Gandhi to "clarify his party's stand on the Ram temple issue."
Launching a strong defense of the fresh campaign for a Ram temple by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates, Prasad said that the Allahabad High Court judgment of 2010 had given legal sanctity to 'Ram Lalla virajman' (the deity) by agreeing that the disputed land in Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram, in accordance with Hindu beliefs.
To counter the charge as to why the RSS and others pressing for a temple were not ready to wait out for a court verdict, Prasad said, "If Section 377, adultery and Sabarimala temple matters can be heard, if the Supreme Court can open its doors at midnight for a terrorist or 'urban Naxals', then why can't the Ayodhya dispute be settled soon?"
The Union Law Minister, however, remained non-committal when asked about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's demand for bringing a law in Parliament for the early construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
On the Supreme Court order that dismissed a slew of petitions seeking a probe into the Rafale jet fighter deal with France, Prasad reiterated the stand taken by BJP president Amit Shah that Congress president Rahul Gandhi must apologise for "the language that he used against the prime minister."
The Union minister said that the Supreme Court, in its order last week, had laid down that the IAF needed fighter jets on an urgent basis, there were no commercial vested interests involved in the deal and that the decision-making process was not flawed. He adds that the CAG issue was an "inadvertent error" which does not impact the spirit of the judgment.
"Rahul Gandhi has attacked the Supreme Court. Is he and the Congress above the Supreme Court? The government in its submission had stated that just the pricing details of the deal were submitted to the CAG, and after that a procedure was explained," he said.
Attacking the Congress, Prasad said, "The party must not clutch at straws to make a baseless political charge."
The first day of the 'maha kumbh' of debate and deliberations saw the likes of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Union I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Rawat, former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury pushing the India Story forward.