Second Day of Ayodhya Hearing: ‘Present oral evidence, not statements’, CJI Gogoi to Rama Lalla’s Lawyer

The drama continued on the second day of most talked about Ayodhya Case hearing.

“Whether Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem… Has such a question ever arisen in any Court?” Supreme Court Judge, Justice S.A. Bobde, asked Senior Advocate K. Parasaran, lawyer for Ram Lalla Virajman, the deity in Ayodhya.

The struggle of faith and ownership in the Ramjanmabhumi cross-appeals filed by Hindus and Muslims contesting each other’s claims of ownership over the 2.77 acres in Ayodhya where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born in Tretha Yuga can be seen clearly.

The structure – Babri Masjid – which stood on the disputed land was demolished by ‘kar sevaks’ on Dec 6, 1992.

The Allahabad High Court attempted to resolve the decades-old dispute by giving joint possession of the disputed land to both Hindus and Muslims in a three-way partition among the deity, Nirmohi Akahara and the Sunni Waqf Board in Sep 2010. But the parties responded by filing cross-appeals in the Apex Court.

Mr. Parasaran submitted that references of disputed land is there in ‘Valmiki Ramayana’.

He said the usual strict codes of evidence should relaxed in this case as worshippers believe the spirit of Sri Ram pervades/resides in the Asthan. The unshakeable faith of the believers is itself evidence that the Asthan is the birthplace of Rama, he addressed the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi.

Mr. Parasaran argued, “The Asthan has become a personification of the deity. It has by itself become an object of worship for the Hindus.”

The case filed by the deity in 1989 was not hit by limitation as the installation of idols in the Babri mosque on the intervening night of Dec 22-23 of 1949 was not a “continuous wrong” as an interim injunction order was passed on Jan 19, 1950, which was again confirmed on Mar 3, 1951. The appeal against the injunction order was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court in April 1955.

A Hindu deity in law is treated as a juristic person with rights. The Ayodhya deity is an infant form of Lord Ram. The deity is deemed a perpetual minor. The law of limitation does not apply to minors. The Allahabad High Court had admitted the suit filed on behalf of Ram Lalla and appointed the next friend to represent the Lord. The suit in the name of the deity had sought a declaration that the Ramjanmabhumi belonged to the deities. It had also sought a judicial order prohibiting any obstruction in the construction of the new temple building in the disputed area.

The Court had asked Mr. Parasaran to commence his arguments after Nirmohi Akhara sought more time to produce oral, historical and documentary evidence to establish their claim over the entire area of the disputed Ramjanmabhumi.

The Court, which is on a tight schedule as the CJI has about 50 working days left before retirement in Nov, decided to hear the deity and gave the Akhara time to prepare the evidence.

When a lawyer protested the move from the back row of the courtroom, Chief Justice Gogoi gave him a dressing down, saying “the First Court of this country should remain the First Court of this country. Don’t try to make it anything else.”

Earlier, the court did not agree when senior advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, for Nirmohi Akhara, suggested reading the documentary evidence from the judgments of the lower Courts in the case.

“These would be just excerpts. We want the original documents,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, reacted.

Mr. Jain said documentary evidence like revenue records etc, to establish the Akhara’s claim of having managed and controlled the “temple” in the Ramjanmabhumi went missing in a “dacoity” in 1982.

But Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer seconded Justice Chandrachud, who asked Mr. Jain to at least present oral evidence, such as testimonies in court, before the Bench.

“Statements here and there will not do. Present us the oral evidence,” Chief Justice Gogoi asked Mr. Jain before giving him time to prepare and passing on to hear Mr. Parasaran.

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