The counsel for deity Ram Lalla told a five-judge Constitution bench on Wednesday that the faith of the devotees was evidence that the disputed site in Ayodhya was the birthplace of the deity. Senior lawyer K Prasaran said that the site itself had become a personification of the deity and an object of worship for Hindus, PTI reported.
The five-judge Constitution bench began the daily hearings in the case on Tuesday after a mediation panel set up in March failed to resolve the dispute. The bench is comprised of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.
“How can we prove after so many centuries that Lord Ram took birth at the place?” Ram Lalla’s lawyer asked the Supreme Court. Prasaran argued that there were three mentions by Ramayana author Valmiki of the deity being born in Ayodhya.
The top court asked whether such a question on the birth of religious figures had ever come up in any court. “Whether issues like birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem have been questioned and dealt with by any court in the world,” the bench asked, to which Prasaran responded saying that he would have to check and inform the court.
The Supreme Court also asked the Nirmohi Akhara, a party in the dispute, whether it had revenue records and oral evidence to prove possession of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. The Akhara had sought management and proprietary rights over the site, stating that the site had been under its possession for decades and that it had the status of shebaitship of the deity.
“Now, we are dealing with the possession,” the top court said. “You have to establish the possession. If you have any revenue record in your favour then it is a very good piece of evidence in your favour. Apart from the revenue records, what are the evidence to show and how did you exercise the right of ‘shebaitship’.”
Senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for Nirmohi Akhara, said they lost the records in a robbery in 1982, ANI reported. When the five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, asked Jain to show original documents, he replied that they had been quoted in the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment.
The counsel for Nirmohi Akhara also attempted to establish that its suit, seeking re-possession of the land, was not barred by the Limitation Act of 1980. “The suit is covered by Article 47 of Limitation Act 1908,” PTI quoted Jain as saying. “The property was under attachment of Magistrate under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The limitation period starts running only after final order of the Magistrate. Since no final order was passed by the Magistrate, the cause of action was continuing and hence, no question of law suit being barred by limitation arose.”
Jain further said that the lawsuit asked for restoration of the shebait rights for the temple’s maintenance, which include proprietary and management rights. He claimed that when dispossession occurred in 1950, the rights were affected.
The Nirmohi Akhara had, on Tuesday, sought possession and management of the entire 2.77-acre disputed land, claiming that no Muslim was allowed to enter the structure since 1934. The Akhara’s counsel told the bench that its lawsuit was for belongings, possession and management rights of the land, and said they were a registered body. The hearing had also witnessed a heated argument between between the bench and senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for a Muslim party.