SC concludes hearing in Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute

The Supreme Court today concluded hearing in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya and reserved the judgement.

The bench heard for 40 days the arguments of the Hindu and the Muslim sides.

A 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, granted three days to contesting parties to file written notes on ‘moulding of relief’ or narrowing down the issues on which the court is required to adjudicate.

The other members of the bench are justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

The protracted hearing in the Ayodhya dispute had entered the crucial final leg on 14 October when the apex court resumed proceedings on the 38th day after the week-long Dussehra break.

The Constitution bench, which started the day-to-day proceedings on 6 August after mediation proceedings failed to find an amicable solution to the vexatious dispute, had revised the deadline for wrapping up the proceedings.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Initially, as many as five lawsuits were filed in the lower court. The first one was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, a devotee of ”Ram Lalla”, in 1950 to seek enforcement of the right to worship of Hindus at the disputed site.

In the same year, the Paramahansa Ramachandra Das had also filed the lawsuit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols under the central dome of the now-demolished disputed structure. The plea was later withdrawn.

Later, the Nirmohi Akahara also moved the trial court in 1959 seeking management and ”shebaiti” (devotee) rights over the 2.77 acre disputed land.

Then came the lawsuit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board which moved the court in 1961, claiming title right over the disputed property.

The deity, ”Ram Lalla Virajman” through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Janambhoomi (the birthplace) moved the lawsuit in 1989, seeking title right over the entire disputed property on the key ground that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a ”Juristic entity”.

Later, all the lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication following the demolition of the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid structure on 6 December, 1992, sparking communal riots in the country.

Earlier, the bench had said it would wrap up the hearing by 17 October, a day sooner than the earlier schedule.

Fixing the schedule for the final leg of the lengthy arguments, it had said that the Muslim side would complete the arguments on 14 October and thereafter, two days would be granted to the Hindu parties to sum up their rejoinders by 16 October.

The judgment in the matter is to be pronounced by 17 November, the day the Chief Justice of India will demit the office.

The apex court had on 6 August commenced day-to-day proceedings in the case as the mediation proceedings initiated to find the amicable resolution had failed.

It had taken note of the report of the three-member panel, comprising Justice FMI Kallifulla, spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, that mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, did not result in any final settlement and it had to decide the matter pending before it.

Lawyer tears pictorial map

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Muslim parties in the Ram-Janmbhoomi-Babri masjid land dispute case, tore up a pictorial map showing the exact birthplace of Lord Ram during the hearings in the Supreme Court today.

The reference to the pictorial map showing the exact birthplace of Lord Ram at the disputed site in Ayodhya by senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the All India Hindu Mahasabha, was objected to by Dhavan.

Dhavan then asked the bench as to what he should do with it, to which the bench said that he can shred it into pieces.

Dhavan then tore the pictorial map, provided by the counsel for All India Hindu Mahasabha, in the courtroom.

During the arguments, Singh referred to various aspects of the Allahabad High Court judgement and said there has been long faith and belief on the part of Hindus with regard to the sacred nature of the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Dhavan had also objected to Singh’s attempt to refer to a book on Ayodhya, written by former IPS officer Kishore Kunal, saying such attempts should be disallowed.

The bench had then asked Singh to proceed with the hearing saying, “Mr Dhavan, we have taken note of your objection.”