Appeal to Supreme Court of India for suo moto action in Ayodhya 


Chief Justice S.P. Bharucha,
Supreme Court of India,
New Delhi.

Honourable Sir,

Is the Indian Supreme Court content to remain a mute spectator to a nationwide bloodbath yet again?

The nation is once again being held to cynical ransom by unlawful outfits and elements like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal as they openly signal their intention to flout the Indian Constitution and the rule of law. Repeatedly, statements by the VHP claim that they will not deflect from their decision to begin construction of the Ram temple on the site of an illegally demolished Mosque, on March 15, 2002. These threats are unlawful given that the matter remains unresolved judicially. The local administration has been appealing helplessly to the executive, demanding that the activities and the outfits be declared illegal, but to no avail.

The matter deserves even more prompt and immediate consideration given the ghastly arson and burning alive of over 50 persons travelling in the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in Gujarat yesterday, and the potential of this incident to lead to a nationwide bloodbath of revenge and counter-revenge between groups and communities.

The incident in Godhra deserves to be unequivocally condemned and the guilty, whoever they are, need to be brought to book forthwith. This incident, just like the systematic mobilisation around the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya, achieves sharp communal polarisation and unleashes hatred among people leading to heinous, mindless violence, and needs to be seen as such. Already, in gruesome and medieval bouts of reprisal in Baroda, Anand and Ahmedabad, minority lives and properties have been targeted. Maharashtra and Rajasthan, where bandh calls have been declared by unlawful outfits like the VHP, Bajrang Dal and their mentors, are in a state of high alert.

Since year 2000, but especially since August 2001, outfits like the Bajrang Dal and the VHP have undertaken a much-publicised programme of arming Indian civil society through the distribution of trishuls, that are in fact cleverly disguised four-inch scrap Rampuri knives that can kill. The intelligence wing of the police of at least two states in the country, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, have asked for the banning of the blatantly illegal activities of these outfits on grounds that they generate localised terror. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of such trishuls have been systematically distributed to arm bands of youth readied and trained for violence. The threat to the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution is clear.


Nine years ago, as the Court, the Indian Parliament and the law and order forces mutely watched, a 400-year-old Mosque destroyed in full public view. The view and the movement preceding it gave sanction for a vengeful bloodbath for some months in 1990 and then again in 1992-93, during which Indian religious minorities were singled out and targeted, whether in Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Indore, Mumbai, Purulia, Jaipur, or Gonda – cities spanning different regions across the country. It was clear that in the guise of the construction of a temple to Lord Ram, the politics of violence, hatred and venom ruled the day. India hung its head in shame.

Even then, nine years ago, all wings of the Indian state had been adequately petitioned in advance, of the imminent danger; all singularly failed to uphold the Constitution. Will the same mistake be made again? Already, we are informed through media reports that no less than 10-20 thousand zealots, groomed in irrationality and trained in wielding lathis and trishuls, geared to break the law, have assembled at Ayodhya. Over 1 lakh more are expected to converge by the assigned date. A few days ago, a former Governer of Uttar Pradesh, Romesh Bhandari, has petitioned you, Honourable Sir, that ‘we may be left with a fait accompli and the resultant chaos that we witnessed in December 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished in full public glare’. He has appealed to you in light of the fact that so many thousands of kar sevaks are gathering in Ayodhya, and urged your taking suo moto action in the matter.

Former Governor Bhandari’s appeal is reminiscent of the voice of advocate O.P. Sharma who petitioned the then Chief Justice Venkatachaliah, requesting the Supreme Court’s suo moto action in preventing the demolition, given the fact that hundreds of thousands of kar sevaks had reached Ayodhya. That was on November 30, 1992. Reluctant to take the appeal seriously, the Supreme Court had merely sent an observer to Ayodhya, a court official who mutely watched the demolition.

Once again we reiterate the appeal to you, in your capacity as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the apex constitutional authority in the country. As citizens concerned about the quality of public life and discourse in the country, which has suffered from the severe perversions caused by hate speech, blatant falsehoods and violence, we urge that the Supreme Court does not remain a mute spectator yet again and issues suo moto orders so that unlawful actions of the kar sevaks are restrained, criminal activity stopped and nationwide violence prevented.

Signed, among others, by:
Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Prabhat Patnaik, K.N. Panikkar, Farookh Sheikh, Praful Bidwai, Vivan Sundaram, Ram Rahman, Javed Anand, Rajendra Prasad, Dophy DeSouza, Sajjid Rashid, Nikhil Wagle