The Sunni Waqf Board on Friday requested the Supreme Court to refer the Ayodhya land dispute case to a Constitution bench, a plea the court had turned down in the previous hearing on April 6. The Waqf board’s lawyer Raju Ramchandran said the Constitution bench needs to decide the case as the dispute concerns a matter of national interest.
On December 6, 1992, lakhs of kar sevaks demolished the Babri Masjid, claiming that the land on which the mosque stood was the birthplace of Ram. This triggered communal riots across the country. The leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, led the movement to demolish the mosque.
Lawyer Harish Salve, who appeared for the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, another party in the litigation, urged the court to consider it as a case of land dispute, and argued that it was not a matter of constitutional importance. “We are beyond 1992-1993,” Salve told the court. “All that remains is a title dispute over property. It should be decided just like a title suit, and not on other grounds.” He said that religious sensitivities and politics should not be brought up before the court, Live Law reported.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said it would hear the matter next on May 15. During the previous hearing, the court had said that it would decide on sending the matter to the Constitution bench only after hearing all the parties to the litigation.
The court is hearing appeals against the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court, which divided the disputed plot among the Sunni Waqf Board, a Hindu organisation called the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla or infant Ram, who is represented by the Hindu Mahasabha. The High Court gave the verdict while hearing the title suit to determine whether Hindus or Muslims own the land where the Babri Masjid once stood.