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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Ayodhya hearing in last leg as SC deadline nears

UP Sunni Waqf Board made a strong case for its ownership over the disputed site in Ayodhya, and claimed the Hindu side never sought possession of it for over 100 years until 1989.

india Updated: Oct 15, 2019 00:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is hearing cross-appeals against the Allahabad high court’s 2010 verdict, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and “Ram Lalla Virajman”.
A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is hearing cross-appeals against the Allahabad high court’s 2010 verdict, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and “Ram Lalla Virajman”.(Sonu Mehta / Hindustan Times)
         

As the hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case entered its final leg in the Supreme Court, the Muslim side on Monday cautioned the court not to “go into the legitimacy of the actions of Babur” and rewrite history.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, arguing the matter for the Muslim side before a five-judge bench, said, “Do not go into the legitimacy of the action of past rulers. It will open Pandora’s Box. If Babur gets involved, Ashoka’s action will also be judged.”

Making its arguments, the UP Sunni Waqf Board made a strong case for its ownership over the disputed site in Ayodhya, and claimed the Hindu side never sought possession of it for over 100 years until 1989 when the civil suit was filed for the first time.

A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is hearing cross-appeals against the Allahabad high court’s 2010 verdict, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and “Ram Lalla Virajman”.

The Supreme Court which is hearing the case on a daily basis will conclude the same on October 17. The court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide adequate security cover to chairman of the Central Sunni Wakf Board, Zafar Ahmed Farooqi.

The order comes on a letter written to the Chief Justice of India Gogoi by senior advocate Sri Ram Panchu, a member of the court appointed mediation panel, who apprised the top court of a security threat to the Sunni Waqf Board chairman.

Advancing arguments for the Board, Dhavan stressed that the mosque was a Waqf property, as is evident from documentary proofs including inscriptions, revenue records, grants and judicial orders.

Dhavan referred to an 1885 order of the then lower court that denied title rights to the Hindus. The Awadh judicial commissioner had upheld the lower court ruling, he told the bench.

Dhavan said the order only gave to Hindus prescriptive rights to worship and not ownership. The order may not be a binding on the court, he clarified, but a fact that needs to be considered by the court before any decision is given. Dhavan said it was in 1989 that the claim of title was made by the Hindus. On the 2003 Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report, Dhavan agreed it was an expert finding. But he said the report never stated that a temple was demolished to construct a mosque. “It (ASI team) may have found a temple below but there was no finding to hold that a temple was pulled down,” he said. The board also said that the building was a mosque is accepted by travellers, gazetteers, Hindu parties and government records.

Dhavan said that the board has been in possession throughout and the claim of ownership by the Hindus came much later. Possession, he said, continues with the title holder until adverse possession extinguishes it, which is not there in the present case.

“I have not lost title at all. They have got a prescriptive right as they never exercised title rights,” he argued. At this, Justice DY Chandrachud, a member of the bench, pointed out that the Hindu side could use the same argument to claim possession of the outer courtyard as they offered prayers there. The judge even felt that the 1885 suit was not a “declaratory suit”. He also pointed out to the railing installed on the premises and said the same might have been done to divide the property into two portions. At this Dhavan read out the 1885 order and the eastern door used by the Muslims throughout was opened for Hindus to let them pray. “It did not given them possession rights.”