On 3rd September, during the day of day-to-day hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple hearing case, advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing on behalf of the Muslim parties appeared to have diluted the exclusive rights over the land. As per reports, Dhavan said that Muslim parties are ready to ‘coexist’ with the Hindus. However, insisted that the title of the land should vest in the Sunni Waqf Board. In a rather infuriating argument, Dhavan said, “We (Hindus and Muslims) may co-exist, but it is my property. Some people came and wanted to pray, so I had allowed them to pray,” Dhavan said.
Senior Advocate Dhavan then added that evidence suggested that an idol of Lord Ram was worshipped at the ‘chabutra’ in the outer premises of the Babri Masjid before it was placed inside the dome on the night of 22nd December 1949. To this CJI Ranjan Gogoi asked senior Advocate Dhavan on whether he accepts that if the Hindus carried out prayers in the outer courtyard in the ‘chabutra’, it would mean there would be a deity.
“You concede that Ram Chabutra belongs to the Akhara. If you concede sevait rights of the Akhara, you concede the rights of the deity, because sevait rights cannot exist without a deity. If you concede that the Hindus have a right to pray at the chabutra inside the mosque, then can it still remain a mosque under the Quranic law?” Justice DY Chandrachud asked senior Advocate Dhavan.
He further added, “You have put across two demands. One, the structure be declared a mosque and second, you get complete title claim to the entire plot of land. In your second demand, you want the title to the entire plot but are willing to let the Nirmohi Akhara worship in the outer courtyard. That means you are parting with a portion of the land. In that case, you cannot claim the exclusive right to the title.”
Essentially, senior advocate Dhavan had argued that the Nirmohi Akhada suit (that of the sevaits) negates the suit of the devotees claiming that the land belonged to devotees. To this, the Judge said that if Dhavan is conceding that the sevaits have rights, then he also concedes that the deities always existed in the disputed structure. And how was the disputed structure a mosque under Quranic laws if a Hindu deity was always worshipped within it.
To this, advocate Dhavan admitted that the idols were there. However, in the 1985 suit filed by one Raghuvar Das, while the Hindus’ right to worship was granted, the claim to the title was rejected. Realising he is getting caught up in a web of questions by the judges, advocate Dhavan said that the Nirmohi Akhara is only asking for praying rights, not a title to land. He added that they were allowed to pray there but the ownership rests with the Muslims and Waqf Board.
Justice Nazeer asked advocate Dhavan whether Hindus and Muslims can pray together. He asked the norms of prayers under the Islamic law in the Indian context where Sufism is predominant. To this, advocate Dhavan said that while Quranic law is the ideal law, it is up to the Supreme Court to decide how it could be applied in the modern sense. “So you are not seeking exclusive right over the disputed land but advocating co-existence with Hindus?” Justice Chandrachud asked.