While the unanimous judgement of the Supreme Court in India’s oldest sensitive dispute of Ram Janambhomi at Ayodhya delivered on 9 November, 2019 has been widely hailed as very matured, balanced and comprehensive across the nation, it has a miss as well. Breaking the established practice and convention of judiciary across the world, the 1045-page historic judgment didn’t carry the name of the judge who authored it. All judgments carry the name of author which is respectfully mentioned during legal arguments in courts while referring to any judgment published in law journals to support particular point of law already settled.
In the presence of four brother judges, Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi read out the operative portions of this historic judgment which many believe amounts to closure of 134-year of complex dispute. (First legal suit was filed by MahantRaghudar Das in 1885 seeking permission to construct Ram temple on the Ram Chabutra where worship by Hindus was permitted by the British Authority.)The other judges of the Constitutional Bench were Justice S A Bobde, CJI-designate, Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer.
Not only that, it also didn’t disclose the author of the Addendum recorded at page 929 of the judgment. This 116-page long Addendum gives detailed reasons as to why the disputed structure at Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Rama.
While reading the judgment the CJI said that “One of us, while being in agreement with the above reasons and directions, has recorded separate reasons on: Whether the disputed structure is the birth-place of Lord Ram according to the faith and belief of the Hindu devotees. The reasons of the learned judge are set out in an addendum” What could be the reasons for non disclosure of the name of the author of the judgment as well as of Addendum. It just can’t be an oversight. They must have conscientiously decided to omit these two names. Could it be a security concern? If there were no security concerns in disclosing names of Justices who authored judgments while disposing of petitions of terrorists like Kasaab and Afzal Guru, where could be a security concern in this case?
Even though these two names are missing, some in the judiciary, former judges or even some very senior advocates would be sure about the identity of the author of the judgment and of Addendum going by their style of writings. Some former judges feel that judgment is most likely written by Justice Chandrachud and Addendum by Justice Ashok Bhushan who comes from UP.
Whatever may be the reasons, this ‘deficiency’ doesn’t diminish the significance of this historic judgment.
K B Jandial