Supreme Court to treat Ayodhya case as a ‘land dispute’, next hearing March 14
Even as lawyers for the opposing sides sought to establish the importance and significance of the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid case, and 32 prominent individuals sought to intervene in the case, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the case before the bench was essentially a “title suit” and be dealt with as such, indicating that the court is unlikely to be swayed by arguments of faith.
“We are treating this case as a land dispute. There are appeals and cross-appeals before us and we are going to deal with it,” Misra said.
The controversial case, with tremendous political, religious, and social significance, will therefore now be treated as a dispute over 2.7 acres of land in Ayodhya when the court next hears the case on March 14. The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to the September 2010 Allahabad high court order directing a three-way division of the disputed land: one-third for the Sunni Waqf Board, one-third for the Nirmohi Akhara, a religious body whose members are followers of Hindu God Ram, and one-third to the representative for ‘Ram Lalla’ (the God as an infant). The apex court has already stayed this 2010 ruling.
The building of a Ram temple at Ayodhya is one of the objectives of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power in both the Centre and the state of Uttar Pradesh where Ayodhya is located, although the party’s position, as explained by its president Amit Shah is that it will do so through discussions, mutual settlement (with the other parties in the case), or a favourable verdict by the Supreme Court.
The case was adjourned after the advocate for the Sunni Wakf board informed the court that some documents and translations have not yet been filed.
A special bench of three judges — CJI Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer — began hearing the contentious case on Thursday noon with Amarnath Mishra, president of Hindu organisation Ayodhya Sadbhavna Samnvyay Maha Samiti and a close aide of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, seeking permission to help the court in the matter. It was submitted to the court that the “case pertains to the faith of 100 crore Hindus and he wanted to help the court”.
Rejecting the offer for assistance offered , CJI Misra said, “We are not going to address these kinds of arguments.”
Terming the September 2010 Allahabad high court judgment in the case as “an insult to justice”, senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for one of the petitioners in the case, M Sadiq, requested the court for an uninterrupted day-to-day hearing in the case.
Dhawan also impressed on the court that the case is important and has ramifications not just for the nation but also globally.
Earlier, the court was also informed by additional solicitor general of India, Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh that “they had filed all the relevant documents in the case, which included 504 exhibits and 20 books which included Ramayana, Ram Charit Manas and Bhagwat Gita” and were ready for the hearing to commence.
Since September 2010, over 20 appeals and cross-appeals related to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title have been filed in the top court .
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