The five-judge constitution bench is hearing a batch of cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad high court judgment on the title suit.
New Delhi: The Sunni Waqf Board on Monday asked why they alone were being asked questions in the course of their submission to the Supreme Court’s constitution bench, while such inquiry was missing when arguments on behalf of the idol of Ram Lalla were being advanced.
Sunni Waqf Board said this to the five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi as there were a number of questions from the bench and senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan laboured to explain to the court that all through, ever since 1886 till 1989, Hindus had a “very limited” right to offer prayers at Ram Chabutra and Sita-ki-Rasoi. And it was only in 1989 that a claim to the title of the disputed site was made by the Hindu side.
“One thing I like the most about the hearings is that not one question was put to the other side (Hindus side). All the questions were directed at us (Muslim side),” Mr Dhavan said as tried to respond to each of the questions that were largely coming from Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice
S. Abdul Nazeer.
Responding to a question from the bench as he was making submission on the prescriptive rights of the Hindus to offer prayers at Ram Chabutra and Sita-Ki- Rassoi, Mr Dhavan suddenly said, “All questions are directed at us, never to them (Hindu side)... Have they ever been asked for their prescriptive rights?”
As Mr Dhavan said this, senior counsel representing the Hindus raised an objection.
The five-judge constitution bench is hearing a batch of cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad high court judgment on the title suit. The high court had divided the disputed site in three parts — giving two to idol of Ram Lalla and Nirmohi Akhara and one part to Muslims.
Hammering the point that Hindus only had the right to offer worship at Ram Chabutra and, till 1987, they never claimed the title of the disputed site, Sunni Waqf Board told the court that the first Hindus claim to the disputed site was rejected way back in 1886 by the then commissioner’s court which granted them a “very limited right” to offer prayers at Ram Chabutra.
Telling the constitution bench that all through Hindus have been seeking the right to offer prayers — which they were performing at Ram Chabutra — and it was only in 1989, when Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas projected to construct a new temple devoted to Lord Rama, that a suit was filed on behalf of idol of Ram Lalla, staking claim to the title of the dispute site.
Monday was the 38th day of the hearing that commenced on August 6, after attempts to find an amicable solution to the dispute through mediation did not produce any result.
Advancing arguments on their claim to the title of the disputed site, which Sunni Waqf Board said was in their continued possession since 1528 when Babri Mosque was constructed, senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan relied on the documents showing that they were getting grants from the state, both during Mughal period and later by the British administration, for the upkeep of the mosque.
Besides claiming the title of the disputed site and seeking restoration of the mosque that was demolished on December 6, 1992, Mr Dhavan told the court that the Hindus’ right to offer worship at Ram Chabutra was lost when the idols were placed in the inner court yard on the intervening night of December 22/23, 1949, and later, on the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992.
Asserting that Muslims were in continuous possession of the disputed site, particularly the inner courtyard, Mr Dhavan said that the Hindu case based on beliefs, faith, travelogues — which he described as stories from Skand Puran — cannot give them the title of the site.
He added that Hindus first sought permission to pray, and much later lay their claim over the title. This claim comes through Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, which he described as a socio-political vehicle.
Justice Bobde asked Mr Dhavan whether the Muslim’s claim to the exclusive possession of the disputed site would not be diluted if Hindus had the right to access and pray at Ram Chabutara and Sita Rasoi located at outer courtyard.
Addressing the poser from the bench, Mr Dhavan said that at best it would give them right to offer prayers, but nothing more.
As Mr Dhavan said that he would require another two hours to conclude his arguments on Tuesday, the court indicated that the hearing might conclude on Wednesday instead of Thursday, as indicated earlier.
The court had earlier asked the parties to conclude their arguments by October 18, 2019, thereby giving the judges one-month time to write their judgments which have to be pronounced by November 17, the day CJI Gogoi retires.