A Hindu litigant in the Ayodhya case told the Supreme Court on Thursday that the Babri Masjid was built at the disputed site after demolishing the Ram temple there, and that Hindus continued to worship at the site without giving up its possession, PTI reported. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the Ayodhya land dispute.

“The mosque was built after demolishing the Ram temple, and despite that Hindus continued worshipping there and did not give up possession...Moreover, Muslims were never in possession of the site,” advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing Rajendra Singh, told the five-judge bench.

“I am making my submissions with reference to Parasaran’s and Vaidyanathan’s submissions [lawyers representing the deity Ram Lalla], that the place is itself a divine site and that I being the worshipper, my right to worship, which is a civil right, should not be curtailed.”

Kumar told the court that magistrate Markandey Singh on December 29, 1949 had initiated proceedings to attach the disputed structure under the Code of Criminal Procedure, after communal disturbances in the area. The magistrate had asked Hindu and Muslim parties to file affidavits in support of their claim to the property. Twenty such affidavits were filed in 1950, Kumar added.

However, the Supreme Court said that filing affidavits was not enough to prove them. “The deponents will have to appear to prove them... No court can say that the facts of these affidavits are proved,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court told the lawyer for the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu body which is one of the three litigants in the case, that if it claims to be the devotee of the deity, it will lose the title right over the disputed property. The Allahabad High Court had in 2010 divided the property equally between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Waqf Board and the deity. However, the Nirmohi Akhara claimed on Thursday that it was the only official devotee of Ram Lalla.

“No, my right does not vanish,” Sushil Kumar Jain, the lawyer, said after the top court’s observation. “I have been in possession of the property in the capacity of the ‘shabait’ [devotee].” He said that the devotees were legally entitled to pursue litigation on behalf of the deity. Jain also claimed that the idols of Ram should not have been made a party to the dispute.

“I am looking after the property from the very beginning and my name appears in all the documents right from the beginning,” the lawyer for the Akhara said. He added that Muslims have not been allowed to offer prayers at the property since 1934. However, he said Muslim groups filed a case in 1950, which made it subject to the law of limitation, making their appeal meaningless.

The bench said it will continue hearing the matter on Friday, and asked the Nirmohi Akhara to come prepared with its claim about being the sole official devotee to the land. The court had begun hearing the matter after a mediation attempt failed earlier this year.

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