The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its order on whether to set up a larger bench to reconsider a 1994 verdict in which it said a mosque was not integral to Islam, PTI reported.
Muslim groups had argued before the top court earlier this month that the “sweeping observation” of the court in 1994 needed to be reconsidered by a Constitution bench. M Siddiq, one of the original litigants of the Ayodhya dispute, had objected to parts of the 1994 verdict. He has died and is being represented by a legal heir.
The Muslim groups had told the court that the verdict “had and will have a bearing” on the land dispute case that the apex court is currently hearing. The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer asked the parties to give written submissions by Tuesday.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Siddiq’s legal heir, said the Supreme Court had made the observations that mosques were not essential for practising Islam without conducting any enquiry or considering religious texts.
At the beginning of the hearing on Friday, a lawyer objected to Dhavan’s remark on July 13 that the “Hindu Taliban” had destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992. Dhavan, on Friday, stood by the remark and said the demolition of the mosque was a “terrorist act”. The bench said the use of such words was inappropriate.
On July 6, the Uttar Pradesh government had told the Supreme Court that Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing in the Ayodhya case by seeking the reconsideration of the 1994 verdict. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the court there was “something inherently wrong” about the petition that a Constitution bench should first decide the question whether a “mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam”.
The court is hearing petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict granting a three-way division of the land on which the Babri Masjid stood till 1992, when Hindutva activists demolished it. The High Court had ruled that the land be divided equally among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Hindu organisation Nirmohi Akhara, and the deity Ram Lalla (infant Ram), which is represented by the Hindu Mahasabha. The Supreme Court stayed this verdict in 2011.
While the Supreme Court bench headed by the chief justice indicated in February that it wanted to deal with the case plainly as a land title suit, it nevertheless allowed arguments to be made on the question of referring the matter to a larger bench.