The demand that the government pass an Ordinance to clear the decks for building a Ram Temple at Ayodhya gained momentum on Monday after the Supreme Court hit pause on the hearing of the Ayodhya title suit. Within hours of the court pushing back the hearing to January, Uttar Pradesh BJP leaders like Sanjeev Baliyan and Vinay Katiyar and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP, pushed for an Ordinance as a contingency plan to fast-forward the temple.
Soli Sorabjee, a former top law officer of the government, however, pointed out that under the Article 123 of the constitution, an ordinance can be brought only in cases of necessity, not expediency. "The ordinance will be legally vulnerable. Once the ordinance is brought in, it can be immediately challenged in Supreme Court and the government will face legal trouble," he said.
The RSS, which admitted to hoping for a positive judgment from the top court and the work at the temple site to be underway before 2019, has called for an "early decision".
"With the construction of the temple, an atmosphere of unity and harmony will be created. With this in view, the Supreme Court should make an early decision and if there are any difficulties, the government should make a law to remove all hurdles in the way of giving land for temple at the Ram Janmabhoomi site," Arun Kumar, the chief spokesperson of the RSS said on Monday.
In his Vijaya Dashami speech, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had sought an "appropriate and requisite" law to build the temple before "certain elements" could stall the top court's judgment.
BJP leader Sanjeev Baliyan, who is among the four BJP leaders named in the Muzaffarnagar riots case, said he was "surprised" at the "priorities" of the top court. "I am of the view that the Ram temple should be constructed. The government should explore all possibilities," he was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
His party colleague Vinay Katiyar blamed the Congress for the delay in the top court's decision. "People like Kapil Sibal and Prashant Bhushan are pressing for delaying the issue. Till when will Ram bhakts (devotees) wait? In 2019, the Congress will come to know," PTI quoted him as saying.
In the election year, the temple issue has made the journey from the backpages of the Uttar Pradesh BJP manifesto to the headlines. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and religious leaders in the state -- which sends the highest number of lawmakers to parliament -- have mentioned it.
The BJP's central leaders have not commented on the matter. In June, the BJP had denied reports that party chief Amit Shah said the construction of the temple would start before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls at a meeting in Hyderabad.
The Congress said the temple issue is routinely brought up every five years before the elections. "The Congress's stated position is that the matter is before the Supreme Court and everyone should wait until the Supreme Court decides... We should not jump the gun," he told reporters.
Regarding the possibility of an ordinance, he said it is the government and not parliament that has to take a call on it. "If someone asks for an ordinance, the Prime Minister has to respond to them, but as you know, he will not respond to any issue," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen leader Asaddudin Owaisi has dared the government to bring an ordinance. "If they have the courage, they should bring an Ordinance on Ram Temple construction. They are trying to scare us about bringing an Ordinance, why don't they bring it," he said.
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