No proof that Hindus prayed under central dome, SC told
Dhavan was addressing a bench of five judges led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi while arguing an appeal against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that divided the disputed 2.77 acres into three equal portions.Updated: Sep 20, 2019 04:42 IST
Arguments in the Supreme Court on Day 27 of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case veered around to whether Hindus had prayed under the central dome of the demolished structure, believed to be the birthplace of Ram, before 1949.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, said there was no such evidence and that the prayers were restricted to the Ram Chabutara in the outer courtyard of the complex.
Dhavan was addressing a bench of five judges led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi while arguing an appeal against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that divided the disputed 2.77 acres into three equal portions.
Dhavan’s statement evoked a sharp reaction from one of the judges on the bench. Justice Ashok Bhushan intervened while Dhavan was reading out the statement of a witness, asking him not to read in portions. The judge asked the senior counsel to read the whole statement, which established the presence of an idol at the spot before 1949 and also that Hindus had prayed to the central dome from the railings put up at the site by the British at the disputed site after the 1855 communal riots.
The statement was from a witness named Hausila Prasad Tripathi. It is the contention of the Muslim parties that idols were placed in the central dome on the intervening night of December 22-23, 1949. These idols were earlier placed in the Chabutara.
Referring to Tripathi’s statement, Justice Bhushan said: “So it may not be correct when you say there is no evidence. How we appreciate it is different.” He also pointed to other statements in which witnesses have claimed to have visited the place in 1942 and prayed inside the dome .
Dhavan insisted the statements were not “plausible evidence.” His response to Justice Bhushan’s intervention led to tense moments in the court. The senior advocate said he noted “some aggression in your Lordship’s stand.” Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who appears for Ram Lalla (the personification of the God), objected to Dhavan’s remarks and called his comments “unfortunate.” Justice DY Chandrachud, another member of the bench intervened too, following which Dhavan tendered an apology to the bench. He then read out the cross-examination accounts of these witnesses and said their testimonies could not be considered as evidence.
A large section of Hindus believes the 16th century mosque in Uttar Pradesh was built over a temple dedicated to Hindu god Ram, whose birthplace is also considered to be at the site. A mob of thousands demolished the mosque in December 1992.
Meanwhile, the court closed a contempt case against an 88-year-old man from Chennai who had sent a letter to Dhavan cursing him for arguing the case of Muslim parties in the case.
First Published: Sep 20, 2019 04:42 IST