Hindu body told to give evidence of possession in Ayodhya land title dispute case
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday asked the lawyer representing deity “Ram Lalla”, a party in the Ayodhya land title dispute case, to apprise it whether any court in the world has ever heard a dispute relating to the birth place of a religious figure.
“We are asked to determine the question relating to the birth place of Lord Rama…are there any other similar questions... whether issues like birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem have been questioned and dealt with by any court in the world,” Justice SA Bobde posed the question to senior advocate K Parasaran, who commenced arguments on the civil suit on behalf of Ram Lalla.
The bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Abdul Nazeer, is hearing appeals against the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad high court in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case.
The bench had commenced the day-to-day hearing of the contentious title dispute from Tuesday after the mediation efforts initiated by the three-member panel headed by a former Supreme Court judge failed to arrive at an out-of-court settlement.
Parasaran promised to revert with an answer on Thursday when he will continue with his submissions. The senior counsel said, “History books establish the fact that there was a temple at the site. It is the unshakeable faith of believers that this is the birthplace of Ram. That itself is the greatest evidence,” said Parasaran, while asserting Ram Lalla’s right at the disputed site. Parasaran told the court that the very fact that Lord Rama is worshipped by millions of people in the country as one who was born in Ayodhya is itself an “evidence” that a temple did exist at the disputed site. “No Muslim would offer worship where a Hindu temple exists,” he submitted.
Earlier in the day, the court asked Nirmohi Akhara, also a party in the Ayodhya case, as to whether it has got any revenue records and oral evidence to establish its possession over the disputed site. The Hindu body has been seeking management and proprietary rights over the disputed site on various grounds, including that it was under its possession since time immemorial and it has the status of “shebaitship” [maintenance and management of a deity].
The apex court found that Nirmohi Akhara was ill-prepared on oral and documentary evidence to establish its claim over the site. “Now, we are dealing with the possession...If you have any revenue record in your favour then it is a very good piece of evidence in your favour,” the bench said.
“Apart from the revenue records, what is the evidence to show, and how did you exercise the right of ‘shebaitship’,” the bench asked Sushil Kumar Jain, the lawyer representing Nirmohi Akhara. Jain tried to establish the fact that Hindu body’s lawsuit seeking re-possession of the site was not barred by the law of limitation.
“The suit is covered by Article 47 of Limitation Act 1908. The property was under attachment of Magistrate under section 145 CrPC. The limitation period starts running only after final order of the Magistrate. Since no final order was passed by the Magistrate, the cause of action was continuing...,” Jain said.