The Supreme Court on Friday said that the Archaeological Survey of India findings on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in 2003 was not an “ordinary opinion”, PTI reported. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the inferences from the ASI report were drawn by “cultivated and studied minds”.

The Muslim parties in the Ayodhya dispute argued that ASI report on the excavations at the Babri Masjid site was “merely an opinion” of archaeologists which needs to be supported by substantial proof to establish that a temple already existed at the disputed land.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, representing the Sunni Wakf Board, said that the report cannot be taken as a “substantive proof” on the 33rd day of hearing in the case on Friday.

The Allahabad High Court had commissioned the ASI excavation of the disputed area. The archaeologists reported traces of a large structure which pre-existed the Babri Masjid. The Hindus claim that the findings gives credence to their claim that it is the birthplace of Ram.

“This [ASI report] is just an opinion and no definitive conclusion can be drawn from it,” Arora told the bench, which also comprised SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

The lawyer argued that the summary of the ASI report said the Ram Chabutra in the outer courtyard was probably a water tank. “There are a lot of assumptions and presumptions in this report and the court is not bound to accept it which is advisory in nature and amounted to just an opinion,” Arora said.

Arora had raised doubts about the report on Wednesday and Thursday too. She had said that each chapter in the report was inconsistent with the next chapter. She had added that Muslim parties had earlier objected to the report in the High Court, but the court had merely said their protests would be dealt with later.

The Supreme Court on Thursday had asked the parties involved in the Ayodhya land dispute case to complete their arguments by October 18, and had said they would not get an extra day.

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.

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