Ayodhya case hearing in Supreme Court draws to a close. A look at key arguments
As the 40-day daily hearing in the 70-year-old Ayodhya title dispute draws to close, all eyes are on the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that is expected to pronounce a verdict by November 17.
The bench is hearing 14 appeals filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla
In September, the apex court had set October 18 deadline to wrap up hearing followed by moulding of relief in the Ayodhya dispute and accordingly developed a schedule after having consultation with lawyers from both sides. In October, the apex court revised the deadline to October 17.
Here is a look at the key arguments in the case:
KEY ARGUMENTS BY HINDU LITIGANTS
# ‘Ram janmasthan is a juridical person, janmasthan has become a personification of the deity and hence, an object of worship. It is believed that the God’s spirit lives in the janmasthan.
# Faith is itself evidence that the janmasthan is where Lord Ram was born.
# Entire disputed land at Ayodhya was Lord Ram’s janmasthan or birthplace by faith and belonged to him and was indivisible.
# Ramjanmabhoomi’s divinity was not lost even after a mosque was constructed over it. The temple’s sanctity remains even if it is destroyed
# Even if because Muslims may have offered prayers at the disputed Ayodhya site it does not give them the right to lay claim over it. “Just as prayers being offered on a street (by Muslims) doesn’t mean claim can be laid to its ownership. This place was never considered a mosque.”
# Citing photographic evidence, the side argued that images of human beings and animals can be seen inside the Babri structure, which discount the claim that that it is a mosque. Images are contrary to Islamic belief. Muslims do not have image in their place of worship, whether of a human being or animals.
# The Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI’s) report of 2003 says that there was a temple at the disputed site and keeping the faith and belief of people in mind and preponderance of probability the place was a temple.
# Hindus’ right to worship is an unfettered right and it flows from centuries. It should be protected
# Nirmohi Akahara claims Shebaiti rights (as agent of the deity) in relation to deity of Lord Ram
# Argumensts based on documentary evidence, which claimed that though a structure in the form of masjid did exist, the ownership and possession of the structure (including the mosque) was with the Akhara.
# Nirmohi Akhara managed the land and till 1941, revenue records show continuous possession in the name of Akhara.
# Quran, the central religious text of Islam, does not permit the building of the mosque on disputed land.
# Babur did not get the mosque constructed nor he was the owner of the disputed land, hence the Sunni Waqf Board did not have any claim in the case.
KEY ARGUMENTS BY MUSLIM PARTIES
# ASI report is inconclusive on the issue whether any temple/structure was demolished and mosque constructed on the disputed site. ASI report should not be given any evidentiary value.
# ASI report is unsigned and it is unknown as to who has done the final analysis of the report and prepared the report.
# Earlier, Hindus were worshipping at the Ram Chabutara, in the outer courtyard.
# On the intervening night of December 22-23, 1949, the idol was shifted from Ram Chabutara (in the outer courtyard) to Central Dome (in the inner courtyard).
# No averment that the central dome was the birth place.
# Property in suit is not the birth place of Lord Ram and is a mosque called Babri Masjid constructed during the reign of Babur
# there is no evidence of Hindus praying inside the central dome and it was the Ram Chabutara in the outer courtyard, which they believed was where Ram was born and it was here that the idols were kept and worshipped.
# Idols were kept under the central dome for the first time in 1949
# The inclusion of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas as petitioner is a special purpose vehicle to get rid of the past temple and build a grand temple for the future by and through the Nyas and to get rid of the shebait and put the management of the temple in the socio-political hands of the Sangh Parivar.
# Mere parikrama does not establish title. Parikrama is a form of practice not claim of ownership or domain as in ashwamedha.
# Travellers’ accounts and gazettes show intermittent belief but not a janmabhoomi. Virtually all gazetteers affirm the physical existence of the mosque, none confirms janmanbhoomi as an area. This is a later invention.
# The entire argument was based on belief from scattered sources such as travellers’ accounts and gazetteers which have been found to be inconsistent and inconclusive.
# Do not go into the legitimacy of the actions of past rulers and rewrite history, as it will open up Pandora’s Box. If Babur gets involved, Ashoka’s action will also be judged.
# The Hindus have based their rights on only illegal acts, criminal trespass in the mosque, desecration of the mosque on December 22/23, 1949 and demolition of the mosque on December 6,1992.
HINDUS HAVE TRIED TO PROVE :
# that a temple was built centuries ago possibly by Emperor Vikramaditya and rebuilt around 11th Century.
# the temple was destroyed by Babur in 1526 or possibly by Aurangzeb in the 17th Century.
# Sanskrit texts (i.e Sjanda Purana and later additions, travellers stories and gazettes show people have a belief that Ayodhya was the birth place of Lord Ram.
# Islamic texts on the mosque are in violation of the koran and Hadith.
# Witness evidence shows that belief has existed for centuries that Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Ram.
# ASI report shows existence of a temple and its subsequent destruction.
MUSLIMS CASE RELIED ON:
# Mosque has been present at the disputed site since 1528.
# Physical existence of the mosque which was attacked in 1855, 1934, trespassed in 1949 and destroyed in 1949.
# British government recognised the grant given by Babur and continued by nawabs.
# Various documents of the 1885 suit recognised the existence of mosque
# Muslims were in possession of the place throughout and offered prayers till December 22/23 1949.
#ASI report does not conclude that a temple structure was demolished and a mosque constructed at the disputed site. ASI report at the best can be taken as only an expert opinion.