A Hindu body on Tuesday strongly pitched in the Supreme Court for control and management of the entire disputed 2.77 acre land in the politically and religiously sensitive case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute at Ayodhya.
Nirmohi Aakhara, one of the leading parties in the case, asserted its claim over the disputed site where the medieval structure was demolished on December 6, 1992, and said that Muslims have not been allowed to enter the place since 1934.
The top court, which commenced the day-to-day hearing Tuesday following the failure of the mediation proceedings to resolve the dispute amicably, was told by the Hindu body that since time immemorial “Janma Asthan now commonly known as Janam Bhumi, the birth place of Lord Ram Chandra was belonging to and in possession of the Akhara”.
Nirmohi Akahara submitted before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that it was also acting as “its (property) Manager” through its ‘Mahant’ and ‘Sarbrahkar’ who had been managing and receiving offerings made there at in the form of money.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, was told by senior advocate Sushil Jain appearing for the Akahara, that under the Muslim law no one can construct a mosque over the land which belonged to others.
Referring to the records, he said, “No Mohammedan could or ever did enter the temple building. It was specifically stated that no Mohammedan has even attempted to enter it at least since 1934” and hence the claim of Akharara over the land was legal and should be honoured.
The senior advocate submitted that from 1934 to December 16, 1949, the site was in the exclusive possession of the Hindu body and the Muslims were not offering their daily ‘five-time prayers’; they were only offering Friday ‘namaz’ that too under police protection.
Citing another evidence, he said that absence of provision for ‘wuzu’, by which Muslims wash hands and body parts before Namaz, at the disputed site, was interpreted by the high court to arrive at the conclusion that prayers were not being offered there since long and thus it had ceased to be a mosque.
It was on the intervening night of December 16, 1949, the idols of lord ‘Ram Lalla’ and other deities were placed inside the structure, Jain said.
While claiming management and possession of the entire land, Akahara said it was in possession of the outer courtyard and Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years.
“We were in possession of outer courtyard and Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years. Outer courtyard having ‘Sita Rasoi’, ‘Chabutra’, ‘Bhandar Grih’ were in our possession and it was never a part of dispute in any case,” the senior counsel told the bench.
The outer portion of the courtyard was “not attached under the judicial order of December 29, 1959 and continued to be in possession of the Akhara, he said.
He said the litigation pertains only to the constructed portion that is only to “the main temple” also described generally as the “Inner Courtyard”.
Further, the Akahara submitted that till filing of the law suit in 1989 by the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, there was no dispute raised by any party relating to the outer courtyard.
“In the Outer Courtyard, there were undisputed structures of the plaintiff (Akahara) including the Sita Rasoi, Bhandar Griha as well as the Chabutra…”, it said, adding that the other case was filed in 1989 by Gopal Singh Visharad, and that too concerned with the inner courtyard only.
While Jain was making his submissions, the bench referred to the 2010 judgement of the High Court and said, “In any case, you have been given one-third of disputed area in preliminary decree by the High Court.”
He was also asked to restrict his arguments to the civil case filed by the Hindu body.
The Hindu body said the access of the “main temple or the Inner Courtyard” was through the outer courtyard only on which it had the right and the possession.
“There is no separate access to the Main Temple Area which is claimed by the Muslim Parties as the ‘Babri Masjid’. It was specifically pleaded…that no Mohammedan could or ever did enter the temple building.
“It was specifically stated that no Mohammedan has even attempted to enter it at least since 1934,” Jain submitted, adding that “Akhara possessed the temple and none others but Hindus were allowed to enter and worship therein.”
“After the demolition of the structure, the petition was amended and it was asserted that the main temple and other temples of Nirmohi Akharha were demolished by some miscreants, who had no religion, caste or creed,” the Akahara submitted. It contended that it was due to the wrongful attachment, the Hindu body had been wrongly deprived of the management and charge of the temple.
“Nirmohi Akhara was not only claiming ownership and possession of the property that is the Main Temple or the Inner Courtyard but was also claiming to be the manager of ‘Janma Asthan’ as well as the idols of Lord Ram Chandra, Laxmanji, Hanumanji and Saligramji,” the senior advocate said.
The court is hearing 14 appeals filed 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.