Ram Janambhoomi: SC to decide if 1994 decision that Mosques are not essential to Namaz needs revision

Continuing with the hearings regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi case, the Supreme Court will today decide whether the 1994 judgement on the Ismail Farooqui case that gave a verdict that mosques are not an essential part of Islam needs to be revisited and should be heard by a larger bench. According to reports, a three-judge bench comprising of Justice Deepak Mishra, justice Ashok Bhushan and justice Abdul Nazeer will decide today on revisiting the case.

According to reports, On March 24, 2018, the three-judge bench had declared that before settling the 70-year-old dispute between Hindu and Muslim organisations over the Ayodhya land, it will first decide whether the 1994 judgement needs to be revisited.

The Supreme Court had in its 1994 verdict, stated that a mosque is not integral to Namaz. Here are the key points of the verdict. It was ruled by a 5-judge bench

  1. A mosque is not an integral part of Islam as namaz can be offered anywhere, even in the open.
  2. The acquisition of a mosque by the government is not prohibited under the constitution.
  3. As India is a secular nation, the status and immunity of a mosque from an acquisition is not different from the same of places of worship of other religions and is not depended upon the status and immunity of a mosque in an Islamic country.
  4. A temple, a church or a mosque is basically an immovable property and a property is liable for acquisition.
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After the Allahabad High Court had ruled in 2010 that the disputed land in Ayodhya be divided into 3 parts, Ramlala Virajman ( Lord Ram of Ayodhya), the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board, the Muslim groups had moved to the SC challenging the 1994 verdict staking claim over the land. They had demanded that the case should be re-examined by a larger bench as it relates to land belonging to a mosque and thus pertains to religious freedom under the constitution.

Senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, representing one of the litigants from the Muslim side, had argued for the reopening of the 1994 case and had also pleaded that the entire Ayodhya dispute case should be referred to a constitution bench. He had pleaded, ” A mosque is forever, it does not lose its significance and remains a place of worship even after it is demolished.”

The lawyers representing the Hindus had argued against the revisiting of the 1994 judgement. Responding to the arguments, the three-judge bench had stated that they will first decide whether the 1994 judgement needs to be revisited before proceeding with the Ayodhya case. The bench had asserted that the Ayodhya case is a mere ‘land dispute’. The bench had also dismissed the Sunni Waqf board’s demand that the Ayodhya dispute case be heard by a five-member bench and not three.

Today, if the three-judge bench decided in favour of revisiting the 1994 case of Ismail Farooqui versus the Union of India, the case will be reopened and a seven-member bench will hear again whether a mosque is an integral part of offering Namaz or not.

Whatever may be the verdict today, it is now evident that the Ram Mandir issue is unlikely to reach its final verdict before the 2019 general elections.

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