The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to refer to a larger bench its judgement from 1994, which held that namaaz can be offered anywhere and that a mosque is not a “essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam”, Live Law reported.
The court said this judgement would have no impact on the Ayodhya land dispute case, which will be decided on the basis of its own facts. “Earlier finding that mosque is integral to Islam was made in context of land acquisition,” Justice Ashok Bhushan said. Bhushan read out the majority judgement written by him and Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
The court is hearing petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 order for a three-way division of the land on which the Babri Masjid stood before Hindutva activists demolished it in December 6, 1992. The court will begin hearing the matter again from October 29.
A five-judge Constitution bench, which heard the M Ismail Faruqui case in 1994, had held that the state can acquire a mosque without contravening the provisions of the Constitution. A petition had challenged the constitutional validity of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993, under which the Centre acquired 67.703 acres of land in and around the Babri Masjid.
“The observation in paragraph 52 of Ismail Faruqui has to be understood in the context of immunity from acquisition,” said Justice Ashok Bhushan. The questionable observations in that verdict are not relevant for decision making in this suit, he added.
Justice Abdul Nazeer, in his dissenting judgement, said a Constitution bench needs to consider the case. He held “what is essential to religion as laid down in Ismail Faruqui was arrived at without comprehensive examination, needs to be re-examined in detail”. Nazeer held that contentious observations in the Faruqui judgement have influenced the Allahabad High Court judgment in the present title dispute.
M Siddiq, one of the original litigants of the Ayodhya land dispute, had filed the current petition. A legal heir represented him after his death.
On July 6, the Uttar Pradesh government told the top court that the Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing in the land dispute case by seeking the reconsideration of the 1994 verdict. The Supreme Court had reserved its verdict on the matter in July.