The Supreme Court began the final hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case on Tuesday, 5 December, a day before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the medieval-era mosque – the Babri Masjid.
A specially constituted bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer are hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits.
- The final hearing in the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute began in the Supreme Court from Tuesday, 5 December
- A three-judge bench will be hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits
- The High Court had then ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre area among the parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Lord Ram Lalla
- The next hearing is scheduled for 8 February 2018
Watch the Roundup of The Babri-Ramjanmabhoomi Case
Rahul Visiting Temples, Sibal Preventing Ramjanmabhoomi Hearing: Amit Shah
In a press conference, BJP Chief Amit Shah took a dig at Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Somnath temple saying that while the Congress leader has been visiting temples in Gujarat, his fellow party member Kapil Sibal is attempting to delay the Babri-Ramjanmabhoomi Dispute.
Today a surprising stand was taken in SC by Congress leader and Sunni Waqf Board lawyer Kapil Sibal ji, he said hearing should be deferred till after 2019 LS polls.Congress should clear its stand on this…Rahul ji should tell us what his view on this is.Amit Shah
States and UTs Alert Ahead of Babri Demolition Anniversary
In view of the 25th anniversary of Babri demolition on Wednesday, Centre has advised states and union territories to remain alert and take all precautions to maintain peace and communal harmony, sources of the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
CJI Will Take Up Question of Constituting Larger Bench if Required
The CJI said they'll take up the question of constituting a larger bench if required.
Speaking to The Quint, Rajiv Dhawan who argued for a larger bench said that he will raise the issue again in the next hearing.
Next Hearing Date
The next hearing is scheduled for 8 February 2018. The registrar has been directed to keep track of the filing of documents.
The bench took serious note of the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the parties, that the appeals be heard in July 2019 after completion of the next Lok Sabha polls as the atmosphere at present was not conducive.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, vehemently opposed contentions that the pleadings were not complete and asserted that everything has been complied with and the cases were ripe for hearing.
CJI Takes Note of The Dispute Over Filing of Documents
CJI Dipak Misra took note of the dispute over the filing of documents. He also took stock of Dhawan’s arguments that the matter should be referred to a larger bench. CJI Misra asked all parties to sit down and together submit all documents and get them finalised in a memorandum.
Suit "Needs to Start Somewhere": SC
Justice Ashok Bhushan questioned Sibal, asking why the case should be delayed. Replying to the judge, Sibal said the case is being heard right now because of Subhramaniam Swamy's intervention.
He added that Swamy has a political agenda behind getting the case decided before the 2019 elections, and that the court shouldn't fall into his trap.
CS Vaidyanathan, who is appearing for Lord Ram Lalla, said politics shouldn't be brought into the matter.
Advocate Harish Salve said the case should proceed as a land dispute, and if a Constitutional question that is serious arises – such as whether mosques are essential religious practice for Muslims – that specific question should be sent to a constitution bench. However, Dhavan retaliated by saying that the issue of the nature of the mosque is fundamental to the case.
Responding to Dhavan, Sibal pointed out that the Babri Masjid case isn’t an ordinary suit. The SC agreed with Sibal but said that the suit “needs to start somewhere.”
'A Larger Bench Should Hear This Case'
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Sunni Waqf Board, argued that a larger bench with either five or seven judges should hear this case.
Saying that this case isn’t an ordinary one, Dhavan told the court that a larger, different bench is required, otherwise the case will be governed by a previous constitution bench, which held that mosques are not part of the essential religious practices of Muslims.
Arguing the importance of the case, Sibal also said that the matter should be taken up after the general elections of 2019. While maintaining that it is up to the court to decide what to do with the case, Sibal stressed on the timing of the case.
Arguments over the Filing of Documents
The concerned parties are arguing about what documents have been filed.
While Kapil Sibal, representing the Sunni Waqf Board, claimed that even the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report hadn't been filed, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, arguing for the Uttar Pradesh government, insisted that Sibal and others have been given everything they needed.
He told the court that all the related documents and requisite translation copies are on record. Senior advocate Satish Parasaran, representing one of the temple trusts, also said all documents are in order.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked one of the Hindu parties about their arguments, and why they were contesting the Allahabad High Court judgment. Sibal, however, intervened saying this can't happen till they have a chance to read all the documents.
As the argument became heated, a furious Misra threw a lawyer out for calling someone in the middle of the courtroom.
Judges Have Arrived, Proceedings Begin
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer have arrived, and the proceedings have begun in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.
Out of the documents which needed to be translated, most have been, except for some witness statements.
Kapil Sibal gave updates on the filing of exhibits as evidence. It seems like a lot of exhibits still haven't been filed.
Locals Voice Their Expectations About the Verdict
The people of Ayodhya talked about what they expect from the Supreme Court hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Some believe that while it was about time the matter was sorted out in court, the involvement of politicians was delaying its resolution.
Shyam Benegal, Teesta Setalvad, and other activists ask SC to intervene
A group of social activists, campaigners, and artistes – including Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen, Teesta Setalvad, Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Kumar Ketkar and Anand Patwardhan – filed an intervening application in the Babri Masjid case at the Supreme Court on Friday, 1 December.
Their application asked for non-partisan views to be heard by the court, and stressed that the issue needs to be handled not just as a simple land dispute, but with an appreciation of the communal implications involved any ruling, and challenged the Allahabad High Court's decision for failing to do so.
Highlighting the potential constitutional law issues, they also suggested that the matter be referred to a constitution bench of seven judges.
Observe Anniversary Peacefully, Says Babri Masjid Action Committee
The Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) on Monday, 4 December, called on people to observe the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th-century mosque peacefully and hold special prayers for early resolution of the dispute.
BMAC convener Zafaryab Jilani said the anniversary should be observed peacefully like previous years, and all memorandums addressed to the government be handed over to the District Magistrate.
Jilani, also a member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, asked Muslims to hold special prayers for early resolution of the issue, with all court cases being taken up on priority so that Muslims get the possession of the land.
Hearing to Begin in Four Civil Suits
The Supreme Court is set to commence the final hearing in the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid title dispute from Tuesday, 5 December.
A specially constituted bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer will be hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.
Failed Attempt at Finding a Solution
A sect of Muslims, under the banner of Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh, had earlier approached the court offering a solution that a mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a "reasonable distance" from the disputed site in Ayodhya.
However, its intervention was opposed by the All India Sunni Waqf Board which had claimed that judicial adjudication between the two sects had already been done in 1946 by declaring the mosque, which was demolished on 6 December, 1992, as one which belongs to Sunnis.
Matter to be Treated as Civil Appeals Only
In pursuance to the Supreme Court’s earlier direction, the Yogi Adityanath government has submitted the English translation of exhibits and documents likely to be relied upon, as these were in eight different languages.
A battery of high profile lawyers, including senior advocates K Parasaran, CS Vaidyanathan and Saurabh Shamsheri, will appear for Lord Ram Lalla, the deity, and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent the Uttar Pradesh government.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Anoop George Chaudhari, Rajeev Dhavan and Sushil Jain will represent other parties, including the All-India Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.
The top court had on August 11 asked the Uttar Pradesh government to complete within 10 weeks the translation of the evidence recorded for adjudication of the title dispute in the High Court. It had said it would not allow the matter to take any shape other than the civil appeals, and would adopt the same procedure as was done by the High Court.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, an intervenor in the matter, had attempted to raise the issue of fundamental right of religion of Hindus under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Many of the original plantiffs and defendants in the matter, including Mohd Hashim, who was the first person to take the matter to the apex court, have died.
(With inputs from PTI)