The Muslim respondents in the Ayodhya land dispute told the Supreme Court on Monday that they want the restoration of the Babri Masjid as it was before being demolished in 1992, NDTV reported. They added that there was no claim on the land by the Hindu parties till 1989.
“We are entitled to restoration of the building as it stood as on 5-12-1992,” the petitioners told the court. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is hearing the case. The bench, which also comprises Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, was hearing the case for the 38th day on Monday. The hearing is expected to end on October 17.
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.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Muslim parties, said that Muslims have had title over the land since 1528, and Hindu parties did not claim title between 1885 and 1989, according to PTI.
Justice Chandrachud said that the possession of the outer courtyard was with the Hindus continuously and documents show that. The court pointed out that erection of iron railing at the site during British rule was to separate the courtyards as well as Hindus and Muslims. Hindus were offering prayers in the outer courtyard, the judges said.
“Hindus can’t claim the outer courtyard. All facts show the Hindus have the right to pray and not possession,” Dhavan responded.
“As you say they had the right to pray and enter, does it not dilute your right to ownership,” the court asked, wondering if a third person can be allowed to enter and pray if someone else has “exclusive ownership”.
To this, Dhavan said: “All questions are directed to us [Muslim side] only and not to the other [Hindu] side”.
Advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who is representing the deity Ram objected by saying that such comments were unwarranted.
Dhavan urged the judges to not decide the case based on archaeological evidence and to use only legal parameters. “We are concerned with the proposition of law and the archaeological evidence will not and cannot decide my title over the property,” he said. “Why knock down one of the domes of the Babri mosque in the 1934 riots and trespass to install the idols of Lord Ram in 1949 if they [the Hindu parties] already had the title? Why did they have to do all this?”
He added that Islamic law cannot be used in parts to show that the Babri Masjid was not a valid mosque, and added that Islamic law was “very complex” and has evolved.
The arguments will continue on Tuesday.
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