Difficult to question Hindu faith on Ayodhya: Supreme Court judge
The Supreme Court bench hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit said on Monday that it will be very difficult to question Hindu faith that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Hindu god Ram even as it decided to sit until 5pm, an hour beyond the court’s scheduled time, for the next three days to hear arguments in the case.
The five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was responding to arguments by senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for the Sunni Central Waqf Board and other Muslim parties, that only belief could not be the basis of claiming title.
“You are challenging the belief of Hindus. That will be very difficult for you to question because even a Muslim witness has said that Ayodhya is to Hindus what Mecca is to Muslims,” said justice DY Chandrachud, one of the judges on the bench.
Justices SA Bobde, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer are the other members of the bench that is hearing appeals against a 2010 Allahabad high court verdict that trifurcated the 2.77 acre disputed plot in Ayodhya between the Nirmohi Akhara, representatives of the child deity Ram Lalla and the Waqf Board.
The bench heard arguments until 5pm on Monday and decided to do the same for the next three days. An official said the reason behind the move was to make up time lost Friday, when the court sits for only half a day.
Last week, the bench expressed hope that the hearing of the land dispute case would be over by October 18.
“Let us make a joint effort to conclude the hearing by October 18. If need be, the court could sit on Saturdays and even extend hearing in the case daily by an hour,” the bench had said. Gogoi retires on November 17 and if the arguments end on October 18, it gives the judges roughly a month to write the judgment.
On Monday, Dhawan countered Justice Chandrachud’s oral observations and said there was “simply no evidence” of Ramjanmabhoomi, or Ram’s birth place.
He contested the concept placed before the court by Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, which heads the Ram temple movement, that a piece of land with divinity attached to it could be held to be a juristic person.
Statements of witnesses on the presence of a “parikrama” (circumambulation) path around the disputed structure had contradictions, Dhavan said, arguing that different witnesses gave varying description of the path. These contradictions, he added, negated the divinity claim.
“There’s a difference between saying no prayers were held and saying it was abandoned. Once a mosque, always a mosque, This is not an abandonment. At best, it was not used,” Dhavan added.
He reiterated that Muslims prayed daily at the site on December 22-23, 1949 and there was no idol in the “inner area” then. On the intervening night of December 22-23, idols of Ram were allegedly placed under the central dome and found the next morning.
“We were in possession. We had the title,” he submitted. There was no proof of anything else but the existence of Ram Chabutra at the disputed site, he told the bench. He said that every idol could not be a juristic person.
At this, justice Bobde said there could be a deity without an idol and cited the example of the Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu where the sky is worshipped. But Dhavan argued some act needed to be carried out to convert a belief into a religious practice.