The Supreme Court on Thursday started the third day of hearings in the Ayodhya land dispute case after a mediation panel set up in March failed to resolve the dispute.
Senior advocate K Parasaran, lawyer for Ram Lalla Virajman, the deity in Ayodhya, commenced arguments before the five-judge constitution bench. The bench is comprised of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.
Parasaran said the deity was not made a party when the magistrate attached the property under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and when civil court granted injunction, Live Law reported.
Justice DY Chandrachud said the Janmasthan, the supposed birthplace of Ram, is worshipped because of the belief that Ram was born there and asked Parasaran if source of worship can be the benchmark for deciding whether something is a juristic person, Bar and Bench reported.
Parasaran said that presence of an idol is not the only test for determination of a legal person. He said that rivers are also worshipped in the country. According to the Rig Veda, the sun is not an idol but is a deity, he said and added that sun is a juristic person.
The bench then referred to a judgement of the Uttarakhand High Court in which the Ganga river was considered a juristic entity. “The Uttarakhand High Court has said that the rivers are also juristic entities capable of being a party in the case,” the bench said. Gogoi then asked Parasan to proceed with other matters.
Parasan also told the court that the Allahabad High Court had ordered partition of the disputed properties, though no party had sought such a partition. He said that the rights of the entire area of 2.77 acres have to be decided.
Following a lunch break, Parasan continued his arguments. He told the court that the High Court has continued to attach properties wrongfully. “Preventing a person from exercising right of worship is a continuing wrong, giving rise to continuing cause of action,” he added.
The hearing was then adjourned for the day. The court will continue to hear the matter on Friday, which is a break from the usual practice. As per tradition, the Supreme Court hears only fresh cases on Mondays and Fridays.
On Wednesday, the counsel for Ram Lalla had told the bench that the faith of the devotees was evidence that the disputed site in Ayodhya was the birthplace of the deity. However, the court asked them if they have any revenue records and oral evidence to establish its possession.
“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 Supreme Court had also asked the Nirmohi Akhara, a party to 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. 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 cross-appeals filed by both Hindu and Muslim litigants contest each other’s claims of ownership over the entire 2.77 acre disputed land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists.
On Tuesday, the first day of the hearing, the Nirmohi Akhara had 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.