Muslim representatives on Friday urged the Supreme Court to refer the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue to a larger five-judge Constitution bench as the Hindu petitioner said the issue should be heard purely as a “property dispute”.
Appearing for main petitioner Mohammad Siddiqui, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said considering the “seriousness and importance” attached to resolution of the dispute among the two largest religious communities in the country and their “feelings and sentiments” attached thereto to the case, the matter should be heard by a larger bench.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for other original plaintiff Gopal Singh Visharad, opposed this, saying the case should be dealt as a property dispute and the issue of political or religious sensitivities “cannot be a ground to refer the matter to a larger bench”.
Salve told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer that political and religious sensitivities “should be left outside the Supreme Court gates”.
Salve contended that people have “moved away from 1992” (yjr December 6, 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid) and the court has to decide the case “strictly on law” as it’s a simple property dispute case.
As per the prevalent practices and traditions of the Supreme Court, the appeals against orders passed by a full bench of any high court have always come up for adjudication before a three-judge bench of the apex court, instead of a two-judge bench, Salve added.
Appearing for the deity, Ram Lalla Virajman, senior advocate K. Parasaran also opposed the matter being heard by a Constitution bench.
At the outset, advocate Ramachandaran said, the apex court on various occasion has transferred the important matters to Constitution bench and this case should too be heard by larger bench as it concerns issues which have a “grave public bearing”.
“The decision of the case has a vital bearing and impact on the social fabric of the county because tow major communities are involved.”
The present batch of matters “not only require interpretation of the Indian Constitution, but also relate to a nationally/considerably important subject matter” and as such the matters be referred to a larger bench” Ramachandran said.
The arguments remained inconclusive and the court posted the matter on May 15 for further hearing.
Earlier, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Siddiqui, picked holes in the 1994 top court’s judgment which, in one of its paragraphs, said that mosques were not an integral part of religious practice of offering prayers.
He said that the question to be decided by the court is “what is the meaning of mosque to the Muslims” and “do you take it as a gospel that a mosque is not essential to Muslims and Islam”.
The court has been hearing a batch of cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that had divided the disputed 2.77 acres site between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Lord Ram deity and the Sunni Waqf Board.
The top court was moved by Siddiqui represented by his legal heirs, the Nirmohi Akhara, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman, All India Hindu Mahasabha’s Swami Chakrapani, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, the Akhil Bharatiya Sri Ramjanam Bhoomi Punardhar Samiti and others.