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.