With little over a week to go before the Supreme Court takes up the Ayodhya title dispute again, Hindu litigant in the case Mahant Dharamdas has addressed a letter to the topmost leaderships of the BJP and Congress, calling for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Ranjan Gogoi
Given the steady rise in politics and polemics over the long-standing matter, the letter by the Mahant is an appeal to the leaders, PM Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi to take action over the 'delay' caused in resolving the issue due to the Supreme Court deprioritising its hearings in the title suit.
Moreover, the Mahant Dharamdas has asked the leaders to replace the CJI so as to accelerate the construction of Ram Mandir. He claims in his letter that it is the belief of the seer community that the CJI is neither interested in taking the case forward nor would he be able to take any strict step.
The pro-Mandir lobby first expressed its disgruntlement at the apex court in the days after it refused to hear the title suit in October 2018, with the CJI-bench stating that it wasn't a priority for the court at that point and that it would be heard again in 2019 starting with the appropriate bench being fixed.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi had himself rejected the plea seeking early hearing citing that "the court has its own priorities". Following this, leaders of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) said that the Chief Justice had 'hurt the feelings' of all Hindus by saying that the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi matter wasn't a priority. At the political end allegations were also made against the Congress party over senior leader Kapil Sibal urging the Supreme Court to not take the matter up until after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In the months since the Supreme Court deprioritised the Ayodhya case, there has been considerable clamour for a legislative solution to be found to resolve the issue and construct the Ram Mandir. Parties like the Shiv Sena and various right-wing organisations have been insistent that the Modi government brings an ordinance to enable construction of the Ram Mandir. BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy, while speaking to Republic TV on Tuesday, elaborated on how the path for such a legislative solution was clear on account of the case in the Supreme Court being a title suit:
"Narendra Modi doesn't have to seek the permission of the Supreme Court. He can declare that he has given the land to the VHP to build a temple, so the road is clear. The fight in the SC is for the title. And the SC constitution bench said that a Masjid isn't an essential part of Islamic religion - it can be broken, it can be shifted. So we can give them another plot. But in this plot, because we had found there is a pre-existing structure, build the temple!", Dr Swamy said.
Unusually, this isn't the first time the impeachment of the sitting CJI has come up in 2018. CJI Gogoi's predecessor Justice Dipak Misra was the subject of an impeachment campaign by the Congress party which accused him of bench-fixing: