The day-to-day hearing in the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid land dispute case in the Supreme Court got into its fifth day, after a three-day interval. After the weekends, the court remained closed on Monday due to Eid. A Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer is hearing the case.
The 5-judge bench resumed hearing the case with Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for Ram Lalla Virajmaan, making his submissions in the case.
The Ram Mandir case has been taken up for a day to day hearing after the efforts to arrive at an amicable settlement through mediation failed.
Counsel for deity Ram Lalla Virajmaan puts forth their submissions:
CS Vaidyanathan read out the pleadings of Muslim parties in the case. “They don’t have a case that they have been in continuous possession of the premises”, he submited.
The counsel argued on how the birthplace (Janamasthan) can be regarded as a juridical place. He said that there was a temple at the spot before the mosque was built. There is no evidence that namaz was offered in the inner courtyard, added the senior advocate.
Hindus have been undertaking the holy pilgrimage to Ayodhya since time immemorial. While putting forth this submission, Vaidyanathan cited the reference of a 72-year-old Muslim witness named Mohammad Hasim. According to the lawyer, the witness had testified that Ayodhya is as sacred for Hindu’s as Mecca is for Muslims.
Supreme court asked the Ram Lalla’s counsel, as to which spot was regarded as Ram’s birthplace. To this CS Vaidyanathan submitted that the birthplace was below the central dome of the Babri Masjid. Three judges of the Allahabad High Court had held that there was a temple at the disputed site, Vaidyanathan informed the bench.
By 2:1 majority, the birthplace was narrowed down to the spot under the central dome of the demolished mosque. However, Justice Sharma treated the entire property as the birthplace. Justice SU Khan of the high court had said that the mosque was built on the ruins of the temple,” the senior advocate told the bench.
Citing an SC order, the counsel said that the presence of an idol is not necessary for a place to be regarded as holy in Hinduism. If there is a sense of reverence – religious efficacy is believed- no idol is required for a place to be regarded as holy, said C S Vaidyanathan.
He added, “There is no need for the actual presence of idol, belief and faith of Hindu persons make the place holy. Medieval travelogues by foreign travellers mention parikrama by Hindu devotees at the Ram janmabhoomi. This indicates that the practice of worship in the outer courtyard continued. There is no proof that between 1856 and 1949 there was only a mosque. The evidence will show that between 1855 and 1934 there is no proof that namaaz was actually offered in the mosque.”
Hindus believe, even PM Modi once said Hindus see God in every animal, tree, river, hill, & stone. Then every place & every object is holy. Why give special importance to one place or a temple? Only one of the 2 contradictory beliefs can be true, not both, said the counsel appearing for Ram Lalla.
Meanwhile, Senior advocate K Parasaran, also appearing for deity Ram Lalla Virajman, added to the argument, explaining the abstract nature of Hindu religion and the importance of symbolism.
Justice Ashok Bhushan agreed with Parasaran’s argument, citing the Kamadgiri temple parikrama. “Ram and Sita are believed to have lived on that hill- sanctity attached based on this belief alone”, said the judge.
After the hearing resumed post-lunch, CS Vaidyanathan submitted that the birthplace itself is a deity. It’s not the abode of the deity. So, there cannot be a partition of the Janmasthan.
Quoting (2005) 1 SCC 457, para 16, to state that a religious endowment does not create a title in respect of the property dedicated in anybody’s favour, Vaidyanathan argued that possessory right cannot be claimed against a place which itself is a deity.
Justice SA Bobde asked, so your submission is that there used to be a temple there and by virtue of the ruins, it continues to be a deity? To this the counsel replies, the structure may have been ruined but the faithful devotees remained.
In the meanwhile, CJI Gogoi reprimanded Rajeev Dhavan, the counsel for the Sunni Waqf Board, who objected to Vaidyanathan citing findings of reports etc and called this “hop, skip and jump” way of argument, adding that no evidence has been placed on record yet. Gogoi asked Dhavan to wait for his turn to place his evidence if he so wishes to.
The CJI clarified that the counsels can take as much time as they want to put forth their submissions, “Mr Vaidyanathan you argue your case as you want and take as much time as you want. We are not in any hurry. This is for all the Counsel. Let us be loud and clear here. We are not in any hurry and we don’t want any more interruptions”.
With this, the bench concluded the hearing for the day, and it will resume tomorrow.
The daily hearings were prescribed by the Constitutional bench on August 2 after taking note of the failed mediation by a three-member panel led by former Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla, also comprising of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu.
The panel had said in its report that the Hindu and the Muslim parties had not been able to find a solution to the long-standing title suit.