The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its hearings in the Ayodhya case. Advocate CS Vaidyanathan, representing the deity Ram Lalla in the Supreme Court, made his arguments by citing a book about the demolition of a temple and construction of a mosque by either Mughal emperor Babur or Aurangzeb, Bar and Bench reported.
“The author of the book has narrated what he had heard, he has not witnessed anything,” Vaidyanathan told the Supreme Court. “However, the book is of sufficient antiquity that it has credibility.” The lawyer also referred to several books written by European travellers that describe the city of Ayodhya and the various temples of Ram located there.
Vaidyanathan said it was the belief of Hindus that Ram was born in Ayodhya and so the court must not go beyond to see the rationality, PTI reported.
Justice DY Chandrachud asked Vaidyanathan about the various versions of Ayodhya described in books by these travellers. In response, the advocate said that though there is difference of opinion on who demolished the Ram temple, it is clear that it was demolished before 1786.
Justice SA Bobde asked Vaidyanathan about the lack of a reference to a Ram temple in the Baburnama – the memoirs of the first Mughal emperor Babur. Vaidyanathan admitted that there was no such reference, but insisted that Babur asked his military commander to build a mosque at the site.
Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Babri Masjid Action Committee, said that pages of the Baburnama that referred to the building of a mosque are missing.
Vaidyanathan told the court that what is important is that at Ram’s birthplace, another structure had been constructed by either Babur or Aurangzeb. The lawyer said that Montgomery Martin, a British surveyor, first referred to the mosque in a book in 1838. Vaidyanathan cited passages in the book which record that pillars of the mosque had non-Muslim pictures, which could have been taken from the temple.
“These works are being relied upon by me not to establish historical facts but to establish the faith and belief of people and religious significance the place holds to people,” the lawyer argued. “That is the context in which these works by Europeans are being relied upon.”
Vaidyanathan quoted from a document from 1854 called The Gazetteer of Territory under the East India Company. “Close to the town on the east, are the extensive ruins said to be those of the fort of Rama, Hero of Ramayana,” he said.
Referring to the Cyclopedia of India, the advocate said there are three mosques on the sites of three Hindu shrines. He also used the reports of the Archaeological Survey of India by British Army engineer Alexander Cunningham to bolster his arguments.
Vaidyanathan also said there was no evidence the mosque was called Babri Masjid before the 19th century, Live Law reported. He cited travelogues of foreigners such as Joseph Tiefenthaler and Martin to point out that Hindus used to treat the place as Ram’s birthplace for a long time.
On Tuesday, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, heading the Constitution bench hearing the case, had said that the court was in no hurry to finish the hearings, The Hindu reported. He said the lawyers on both sides can make arguments as they wish, no matter how long it takes.
Gogoi’s clarification came after Dhavan complained that the court had allowed the Hindu side to argue for days without producing any evidence to back their claims about the birthplace of Ram. “If he [Vaidyanathan] has not placed any exhibit or evidence, that is his weak point,” Gogoi told Dhavan.
The court began daily hearings in the case, five days a week, on August 6. The hearings began after a mediation effort by a court-appointed panel failed to achieve a result last month. The bench also comprises Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.