Nirmohi Akhara, which is one of the parties involved in the Ayodhya land dispute case, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that no Muslim was allowed to enter the structure since 1934 and sought possession and management of the entire 2.77 acre disputed land, PTI reported. A five-judge constitution bench began the daily hearings in the case earlier in the day after a mediation panel set up in March failed to resolve the dispute.
The court also rejected a plea that sought recording of the day-to-day hearings in the case.
The akhara’s counsel told the bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, that its suit was for belongings, possession and management rights of the land, and said they were a registered body.
Counsel Sushil Jain also informed the court that the akhara was in possession of the inner courtyard and ‘Ram Janmasthan’ for hundreds of years. “Outer courtyard having ‘Sita Rasoi’, ‘Chabutra’, ‘Bhandar Grah’ were in our possession and it was never a part of dispute in any case,” he added.
The bench told akhara’s counsel that the group has been given one-third of the disputed area in preliminary decree by the Allahabad High Court.
“Before 1934, Muslims were offering regular prayers, high court had noted in the verdict,” the bench said.
The counsel for Nirmohi Akhara said Muslims were offering only Friday prayers at the disputed structure between 1934 and 1949.
The hearing also witnessed heated argument between between the bench and Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for a Muslim party.
When the bench told the counsel for Nirmohi Akhara to confine his arguments to civil dispute and skip reading written statements, Dhavan interfered and said there should not be any curtailment of arguments.
CJI Gogoi said there should not be any doubt in anybody’s mind that the hearing or the arguments would be curtailed in any manner. “Please keep in mind that you are officer of the Court and all we are saying that we are not going to curtail anybody’s arguments,” the bench told Dhavan.
“Dr Dhavan, keep the dignity of the court,” Gogoi told him later. However, Dhavan said he had replied to some questions only.
The Ayodhya dispute has been going on for several decades, with both Hindu and Muslim groups claiming their right to the land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had ordered the land to be divided in three equal parts between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Wakf Board and the representative for the deity Ram.