Day-to-day proceedings in Ayodhya case to end at 5 PM on Wednesday: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that it will conclude today the day-to-day hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case at Ayodhya, saying “enough is enough”.

A 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it is hearing the Ayodhya land dispute case for the last 39 days and no more time beyond today will be granted to parties to conclude the hearing in the case.

“This matter is going to be finished today by 5 PM. Enough is enough,” the bench, which also comprises justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said at the start of the proceedings on the 40th day.

The apex court had earlier said the hearing would be concluded on October 17. Now deadline has been advanced by one more day. The CJI is demitting office on November 17.

The bench also rejected a plea of a party seeking to intervene in the ongoing hearing and said no such interventions will be allowed now at this stage of proceedings.

Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for a Hindu party, has commenced his submission in response to a lawsuit filed by Sunni Waqf board in 1961 seeking title claim over the 2.77 acre disputed land at Ayodhya.

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 three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Ayodhya case : Chances Brighten for Verdict in November

Chances of the SC giving a final verdict in Nov. in the 70-year-old litigation for ownership of the 2.77 acre Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya brightened as all Hindu parties, who were awarded 2-3rd of the disputed land by the Allahabad HC, have completed their arguments. The hearing had started on Aug 6.

Giving a patient hearing to counsel but not allowing them to repeat or reiterate each other’s arguments, a bench of Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi & Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan & S Abdul Nazeer appeared to have achieved the unimaginable — completion of arguments on behalf of deity Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara, All India Ram Janmasthan Punaruthan Samiti, 2 factions of Hindu Mahasabha, Shia Waqf Board (SWB) & legal heir of Gopal Singh Visharad, who had 1st instituted a suit in 1951 after idols were installed inside Babri Masjid in Dec 1949.

The Allahabad HC had divided the 2.77 acre disputed land equally among 3 parties, with 1-3rd going to deity Ram Lalla under the central dome of the mosque prior to its demolition in 1992, another 3rd comprising the Ram Chabutra & Sita Rasoi to Nirmohi Akhara & the last 3rd to Sunni Waqf Board.

With arguments on behalf of deity Ram Lalla & Nirmohi Akhara getting over on Day 16 of the proceedings, the main party left to advance arguments is Sunni Waqf Board represented by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who had protested against the 5-days-a-week hearing schedule fixed by the SC.

With many in the court corridors wondering whether the bench would be able to conclude proceedings & deliver a judgment before the retirement of Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Nov 17, the completion of arguments by parties awarded 2-3rd of the disputed land brightens the chances of the court delivering the final verdict in Nov.

Ayodhya Case(Day 12):’In the suits in which deity is vitally interested, it has to be heard’ Justice Chandrachud says

Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar Jain resumed his arguments for Nirmohi Akhara before the 5-Judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Today he focused on oral evidence and documentary evidence.

Relying on witness testimonies, Mr. Jain submitted that there have been no allegations that Nirmohi Akhara misused its rights or did anything adverse the deity. He said that these are the only grounds on the basis of which Shebaitship rights of a shebait can be taken away. He submitted that shebait is like Karta of a family.

Justice Bobde seeking clarification, said that Nirmohi Akhara is not claiming ownership in the normal sense, they are claiming management rights, but what all do they manage?

Mr. SK Jain said that puja-aarti at the disputed site is to be done and controlled by them.

Mr SK Jain further submitted that only shebait can file that suit, but as far as construction of temple is concerned, they’ll take help of other Hindu parties as well, they don’t want monopoly in construction.

Relying upon oral evidence, Mr. Jain stated that nobody has disputed their Shebaitship and possession of over 150 years, of both inner and outer courtyard.

Justice Chandrachud observed that the job of Nirmohi Akhara is simply to ensure that puja is done, offerings are received as per rituals and traditions.

Mr. Jain said that giving 1/3rd of the disputed property to Ram Lalla and Sunni waqf board was ‘wrong’, he said that they cannot be given possession, decree should have been passed in favour of Nirmohi Akhara only.

He went on with submissions stating that when digging was by the Archaeology Department, under the chabootra another chabootra was found exactly beneath it. Relying on witness testimonies he submitted that the disputed structure was never used as a mosque till 1856-57, and no historic evidence has been found to show that namaz was offered there.

Justice Bobde told Mr. Jain to focus on those evidences which support his case and prove his right of Shebaitship.

Mr. Jain stated that “There were tons of documents establishing the right of shebaitship, but in dacoity they all have got stolen.”

After quoting a number of witness testimonies, Mr. Jain submitted that presence of Nirmohi Akhara and its possession has never been doubted, there is no dispute about it. He stated that the Allahabad High Court has also recognised in its impugned judgement that Nirmohi Akhara was managing the affairs even after idols were placed under the central dome of the disputed structure.

Justice Chandrachud told Mr. Jain that he has categorically denied thatPlaintiff No. 1 and Plaintiff No. 2 in Suit 5 are juridical persons, however in his oral submissions he says that they are juridical persons, but, the moment he accepts that they are juridical persons, they have right to be represented by counsels.

Justice Chandrachud asked him that if the suit of the deity fails, who will he be shebait for? “You stand together, you fall together” Justice Chandrachud added.

Mr. Jain said that his only endeavour it to get his suit accepted. This prompted Justice Bobde to ask, “Should we take it then that you are not seeking dismissal of Suit 5?” Mr. Jain stated that in this regard he will be able to make a statement tomorrow.

Justice Chandrachud told Mr. Jain that there is no boundary between his claim as a shebait and claim of Plaintiff No. 3 as next friend, because even if the case is decreed in their favour, Nirmohi Akhara can independently claim shebaitship.

Justice Chandrachud further explained that the moment he said that Plaintiff No. 1 and Plaintiff No. 2 are juridical persons, there is no conflict between his suit and their suit, and even if the suit is decreed in their favour, he will still be entitled to assert his cause of action.

Justice Chandrachud told him that he is unnecessarily entering an area of conflict which does not belong to him, it belongs to Sunni Central Waqf Board.

Mr. Jain was further told Justice Chandrachud that his case is that Suit no. 5 cannot be maintained, then the only consequence would be dismissal of the Suit, and if the Suit no. 5 is dismissed, he should consider what the consequences would be for him, he cannot be shebait for a mosque.

Justice Chandrachud said that his submission should be to independently accept his suit, without opposing to Suit no. 5.

Agreeing, Mr. Jain submitted that his endeavour is this only, but the possession has to be handed over to him.

Quoting from precedents, Mr. Jain stated that an idol is certainly a juridical person, who can hold property, has power to sue, be sued in respect of the property, but its personality is linked with physical personality of Shebiat.

Relying on caselaws, Mr. Jain further submitted that it has been held that shebait can maintain a suit on behalf of the deity in his own name and need not implead the deity as a party to any case.

Justice Chandrachud pointed out that in the suits in which deity is vitally interested, it has to be heard. Mr. Jain said that the personality of idol is merged with the shebiat, and the shebiat is suing on behalf of the deity. However, Mr. Jain said that plaintiff in the suit of next friend has mentioned that Shebiat is not acting in the interest of deity.

Justice Chandrachud explained that if a claim is brought by debtor or there is a suit for recovery of property belonging to the deity, then you will not implead the deity, because in such a situation shebait may represent the deity, but in a situation where it has to be established whether a person is his or her shebait, then the deity clearly has right to implead and ascertain whether this person has the shebaitship.

Mr. SK Jain will continue his submissions tomorrow, 27th August 2019.

Ayodhya case: Temple existed before Babri Masjid came up at disputed site, counsel for deity to SC

A “massive” temple of Lord Ram, dating back to the second century BC (Before Christ), existed at the disputed site in Ayodhya before the construction of Babri Masjid, a counsel for deity “Ram Lalla Virajman” told the Supreme Court on Friday.

The counsel for Ram Lalla, a party to the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, referred to the report of a court commissioner, appointed to inspect the site in 1950, and also relied upon the findings of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to buttress its claim over the disputed 2.77-acre land in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.

Advancing submissions before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on the seventh day of the hearing, senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for the deity, said according to the ASI report, there “existed a massive, pillar-based structure dating back to the second century BC and the ASI survey was conclusive about there being a ‘mandap’ at the site with pillars”.

The senior lawyer extensively referred to various pictures and reports, including the ASI’s findings on the excavated materials from the disputed site, and said, however, there was no such material to show that it was a temple of only Lord Ram.

But the pictures of the deities, including those of Lord Shiva, sculptures on the pillars of “Garuda” flanked by lions and the images of lotus amply indicated that it was a temple and moreover, these things were not found in mosques, Vaidyanathan submitted before the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

“Keeping in mind the faith of Hindus and preponderance of probability, it would indicate that this was a temple of Lord Ram,” he said.

“Along with the massive old structure, other materials found during excavation suggested that it was a temple,” the senior lawyer added.

Referring to the Allahabad High Court order, he said one of the judges, Justice S U Khan, did not deal with the ASI report in his judgment and erroneously concluded that the mosque came up on a vacant land and on the ruins of a temple, while the other two judges took note of the report, which said there was a temple where the mosque came up.

“We are deriving support from the archeological evidence that from the second century BC, there was a temple and additions were made during different periods” namely during the rules of the “Shungas”, the “Kushans” and the “Guptas”, Vaidyanathan said.

“The question before us is not about the structure but whether it was of religious nature before the mosque was built there,” the bench said.

It also said during the course of civilisation, buildings were “built and rebuilt” and proofs were needed to establish that there was a temple where the mosque came up.

“It was a temple where the public had access. The basic foundation was the same, while the structure was rebuilt. The underlying foundation never changed. There was a total of 17 rows of pillar bases and each row had five pillars,” Vaidyanathan said.

Referring to the ASI’s 2003 report, he said it was prepared by experts and “there is nothing to discredit” its findings.

“You also have a grave here. How would you interpret this,” the bench asked.

“The grave belonged to a much later period,” the senior lawyer said, adding that there were several layers of excavations and the grave was not found during the deep excavation.

Vaidyanathan said archeological experts from both sides were present during the excavations, which were video-graphed, conclusions were arrived at after deliberations and “distinctive features of a temple” were found in the report.

“Huge pillared-halls, different from normal residential buildings, have been found in the ASI’s report,” he said, adding that excavation was not done of the place where the deity, “Ram Lalla Virajman”, was presently placed in the makeshift temple.

Vaidyanathan said the ASI analysed the excavated materials by dividing those into different time zones ruled by different dynasties.

At the outset, the senior lawyer referred to the report of a court-appointed commissioner, who had annexed various photographs of pillars containing images of Hindu gods.

He also submitted an album containing photographs of deities inside the structure and said mosques did not have such images inside them.

On the issue of “namaz” being offered at the disputed site in the past, Vaidyanathan said offering prayers did not mean a valid possession of the place.

“Offering prayers cannot mean valid possession unless you already own it. If prayer is offered on the street, it cannot be a proof to own it,” he said.

The bench said the question was whether the disputed structure was “built as a mosque or being used as a mosque”.

“No mosque will ordinarily contain pillars of this nature,” the lawyer said.

He said during the 1950 inspection itself, it was very clear that there were various “structures, images” that belied the claim that it was a mosque.

The advancing of arguments would continue on Monday.

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 disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and “Ram Lalla Virajman”.

Babri Masjid was demolished by right-wing activists on December 6, 1992 in Ayodhya, leading to the protracted legal battle.

Ayodhya Case(Day 6): ‘Mosque built on ruins of Temple not a valid Mosque under Shariat law’ submits advocate for Ram Lalla

Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan resumed his arguments for Ram Lalla before the 5-Judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Vaidyanathan referred to various books and travelogues which describe the city of Ayodhya and also the temples in the city dedicated to Lord Ram.

He stated that earliest document is publication by English traveller William Finch, named ‘Early Travels in India, 1583-1619’ in which he wrote with respect to Ayodhya. Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that the fact that reference of any such mosque built at Ayodhya is absent in his travelogue is of significance.

Vaidyanathan relied upon a book speaking about demolition of temple and construction of mosque by either Babar or Aurangzeb. The author of the book has narrated what he had heard, not witnessed. However, he submitted that the book is of sufficient antiquity, credibility.

Justice Chandrachud asked Vaidyanathan who allegedly demolished the temple – Babar or Aurangzeb?

Vaidyanathan said that though there is difference of opinion on who demolished it, and also on whether it has been demolished twice, first time by Babur then later by Aurangzeb, but it is clear it was demolished before 1786.

He further said that it is doubtful that the structure was built by Babur, but it is clear that the structure came up at the place which is believed by Hindus to be birthplace of Lord Ram.

Justice Bobde asked the counsel when was the structure called Babri Masjid for the 1st time?

Vaidyanathan said that it was called Babri Masjid for the 1st time in 19th century. There is no document of earlier than 19th century which refers to the structure as Babri masjid.

When Justice Bobde asked whether Baburnama is silent on the whole thing? Vaidyanathan said, Yes, it’s silent. Babar ordered his military commander to build it.

Justice Bobde further inquired whether there was any evidence of the command.

Inscriptions on which substantial doubt has been cast are the only evidence Mr. Vaidyanathan said.

Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for Sunni Waqf Board, intervened saying that Baburnama is silent because the pages of Baburnama referring to this episode are missing.

Mr. Vaidyanathan then stated that it is difficult to record finding that the structure was built by Babur, however, what is important is that at the place of Janmasthan, another structure has been put up, either by Babur or Aurangzeb.

Mr. Vaidyanathan referred to the work of Montgomery Martin a British surveyor of 19th century who found that inscriptions suggest that the mosque was built by Babur. The book Montogomery in 1838, made the first reference to the mosque having been built by Babur.

Mr. Vaidyanathan referred to the documents which record that pillars of the mosque have pictures which are non-Muslim and could have been taken from the temple.

Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that these works are being relied upon by him not to establish historical facts like dates, names etc. but to establish the way the people lived, their faith and their belief of people and religious significance the place holds to them.

Mr. Vaidyanathan relied on a document from 1854 – The Gazetteer of Territory under East India Company quoting that “Close to the town on the east, are the extensive ruins said to be those of the fort of Rama, Hero of Ramayana”. He thereby submitted that due to existence of the ruins, the site cannot be disputed.

There are three mosques on the site of three Hindu shrines, Mr. Vaidyanathan said.

Reports of Archaeological Survey of India (1862-1865) by Alexander Cunningham were relied upon by Mr. Vaidyanathan.

Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that Muslims have destroyed numerous temples. 1st temple known to succumb at hands of a Muslim ruler is temple at Ram Janmbhoomi. And, the oldest piece of archaeological evidence is usage of black pillars in the mosque which are originally from temple which was destroyed.

Justice DY Chandrachud observed that there has been influence of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, there has not been dominance of any one throughout.

Mr. Vaidyanathan said there has been different influences in different phases, starting with Hinduism followed by Jainism, Buddhism and then Islam, but people’s belief in Lord Ram has continued throughout all the phases. Continuous worship has remained unaffected by these influences. Persistent worshipping shows belief and faith of Hindus.

He stated that it is believed by general consensus that the mosque was built in place of temple.

He said that the disputed area is hardly 10,000 square feet, it cannot be divided into 3 portions, and they are against that part of the Allahabad High Court Judgement.

Mr. Vaidyanathan stated that in 1945 a suit pertaining to conflict between Shias and Sunnis regarding the disputed site was filed by Shia Central Waqf Board. The plaintiff had contended that during the era of Babur beautiful masjid was constructed at the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Justice Bobde asked what was the stance of Sunnis in that dispute?

Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that the contention was not objected by the Sunnis and the suit was later dismissed.

Mr. Dhavan said that was a 1945 suit, and it does not affect the 1989 suit.

Mr. Vaidyanathan further submitted that under Muslim law it is unlawful to build mosque on illegally acquired land. He said that it has not been proved that land on which the mosque was built belonged to Babur.

He added that divinity of place of birth is a belief, and prior existence of temple is a fact. Since mosque was built on ruins of temple it cannot be a valid mosque, being contrary to Shariat law itself.

Mr. Dhavan submitted that sanctity is placed on Chabootra which came up later, and temples built around a mosque do not make a mosque invalid, is not prohibited under the Shariat law.

Ayodhya case: Muslim party objects hearing on all days of week, says it can’t be ‘rushed through’

A Muslim party on Friday objected in the Supreme Court five-days-a-week hearing of the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya, saying it will “not be able to assist” the court if the hearing is “rushed through”.

The submission was made by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is appearing for a Muslim party, when the Supreme Court commenced hearing on the fourth day in the case.

Breaking with the tradition, the apex court decided to hear the sensitive case on Friday which is kept kept fresh cases only, along with Monday. As per the apex court’s procedures, on Mondays and Fridays, the registry lists before the benches fresh and miscellaneous cases after notice cases.

As the counsel for deity ‘Ram Lalla Virajmaan’ started advancing its submissions before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Dhavan got up and interjected the proceedings.

“It is not possible to assist the court if it is heard on all days of the week. This is the first appeal and the hearing cannot be rushed in this manner and I am put to torture,” he told the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

He said the apex court was hearing first appeals after the Allahabad High Court delivered the verdict in the case and the hearing as such cannot be rushed through.

Being a first appeal, documentary evidences have to be studied. Many documents are in Urdu and Sanskrit, which have to be translated, Dhavan said.

The senior lawyer alleged that “perhaps, except Justice Chandrachud, other judges might not have read the judgment (Allahabad High Court’s)”.

He said that if the court has taken a decision to hear the case on all five days of the week then he might have to leave the case.

“We have taken note of your submissions. We will revert back to you soon,” CJI Gogoi said and proceeded with the hearing.

The bench has now started hearing the submissions of senior advocate K Parasaran on behalf of deity Ram Lalla Virajmaan.

The apex court had on Thursday asked the counsel for the deity, which itself has been made a party to the case, as to how the ‘Janmasthanam’ (birth place of deity) can be regarded as a “juristic person” having stakes as a litigant in the case.

The apex court had said on the third day of the hearing that so far as Hindu deities were concerned, they have been legally treated as juristic person which can hold properties and institute, defend and intervene in lawsuits.

The bench, however, had asked Parasaran as to how ‘Janamsthanam’ can file the case in the land dispute as a party.

The law suit filed by the deity in the Ayodhya case has also made the birth place of Lord Ram as co-petitioner and has sought claim over the entire 2.77 acre of disputed land at Ayodhya where the structure was razed on December 6, 1992.

Ayodhya case: Supreme Court commences hearing; Nirmohi Akhara to continue arguments

The Supreme Court on Wednesday commenced hearing on the second day of the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya after the efforts to arrive at an amicable settlement through mediation have failed.

Senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for Nirmohi Akhara, one of the parties in the case, commenced arguments on the second day before a five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Nirmohi Akhara had on Tuesday strongly pitched in the Supreme Court for control and management of the entire disputed 2.77-acre land, saying Muslims had not been allowed to enter the place since 1934.

The bench — also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer — had last Friday taken note of the report of the three-member mediation panel, headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla, that the mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, have not resulted in any final settlement.

No live-streaming of Ayodhya case hearing, says Supreme Court

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court today said that it will not allow live streaming or audio recording of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case hearing that began this morning after the mediation attempt in the case failed.

Former BJP leader & Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue KN Govindacharya moved the Supreme Court seeking live-streaming of the upcoming day-to-day proceedings in the Ayodhya case.

“This case is a matter of national importance. There are crores of persons, including the petitioner, who want to witness the court proceedings, but cannot due to the present norms in the Supreme Court,” said Govindacharya in his petition rejected by the CJI-led Supreme Court bench.

The CJI-led bench decided to hear the Ayodhya case on day-to-day basis after going through the mediation panel’s report submitted on Thursday.

The report by the panel, comprising former Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla, spiritual guru & founder of Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar & senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, came after almost four-and-a-half month-long negotiations between Hindu & Muslim litigants to explore the possibility of an out-of-court settlement to the decades-long Ayodhya land dispute.

The Supreme Court had earlier, in response to a plea from one of the original petitioners in the case that the mediation wasn’t going anywhere, ordered the panel to “inform the Court the outcome of the mediation proceedings.” The court had made it clear that if the mediation failed, a day-to-day hearing would begin.

The panel was initially given eight weeks to explore the possibility of a settlement, but on May 10, after the panel submitted an interim report to the court, the SC granted it an extension of three months, till August 15.

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 & Ram Lalla.

Ayodhya case in Supreme Court: Hindu party seeks control of entire 2.77 acre disputed land

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 Hindu body said it was claiming ownership and possession of the “main temple” as also to be the manager of the birth place of Lord Rama.

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.

SC grants time till Aug 15 in Ayodhya case: Panel seeks extension for mediation process.

The Supreme Court Friday extended till August 15 the time for a panel of mediators, headed by former apex court judge Justice F M I Kalifulla, to explore an amicable solution to the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya.

A five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said they have received the report from Justice Kalifulla in which the panel has sought extension of time till August 15 to complete mediation proceedings.

“If the mediators are optimistic about the result and are seeking time till August 15, what is the harm in granting time? This issue has been pending for years and years. Why should we not grant time,” the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the parties.

The counsel appearing for both the Hindu and Muslim parties expressed confidence over the ongoing mediation proceedings and said they are fully cooperating with the process.

At the outset the bench said they have received the report on May 7 from the chairman of the panel and they have requested the court to consider extending the time till August 15 to complete the mediation proceedings.

“We have perused and considered the report of May 7 of Justice F M I Kalifulla indicating the progress made in the mediation proceeding.”

“Chairman of the mediation committee has sought extension of time till August 15 to enable the committee to find an amicable solution. We are inclined to grant time till August 15,” the bench said.

One of the advocates appearing in the matter said the apex court had earlier given eight weeks time to the panel of mediators and now nine weeks have gone by.

“We had given eight weeks and the report has come. We are not inclined to tell you what is there in the report of the committee,” the bench said.

One of the counsel told the bench that there are around 13,990 pages of documents in vernacular languages and said some wrong translations have been made which would be a problem.

“Objections, if any, on the translation may be placed on the record by written note by June 30,” the bench said, adding, “Nobody will come in the way of mediation”.

The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements including the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be forthwith arranged by the state government so that proceedings could commence immediately.

It had also directed that the mediation proceedings be held in-camera as per norms applicable to conduct mediation 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.

On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.