Ayodhya Hearing: Live Updates from Supreme Court [Day 5]

Ayodhya Hearing: Live Updates from Supreme Court [Day 5]

Bar & Bench

The hearing in the case relating to the Ayodhya/Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir case is currently underway at the Supreme Court of India.

The case is being heard by a Constitution Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer.

The Ayodhya case was referred to a Constitution Bench on January 9 this year. Earlier, a three-judge Bench had  declined to refer the matter to a larger Bench.

In March this year, the Bench referred the Ayodhya dispute to a mediation panel comprising of former Supreme Court judge Justice FMI Kalifulla, spiritualist Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu.

The hearing in the case had commenced on August 6, with arguments being made on behalf of the Nirmohi Akhara. In the following two hearings, apart from the Nirmohi Akhara, submissions were also made on behalf of the deity Ram Lalla.

Read an account of Day 1 of the arguments here.

Accounts of the arguments made on Day 2 can be read here and here.

Live updates of today’s hearing in the Ayodhya case follow:

  • Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan now making arguments for Ram Lalla.
  • CS Vaidyanathan tracing precedents on scope of religion and God with reference to Hinduism and the significance of idol and deity in Hinduism.
  • Conferring legal personality on deity was developed during the British rule, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • Belief on efficacy of a particular deity or place is what is crucial as regards existence of temple, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • Hence, rivers, hills like Kailash and Govardhan are treated as places of worship, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • Places have thus been treated as deity irrespective of whether there is an idol or not, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • The divinity of place is what is relevant. Such status of the place is therefore indestructible, perennial and cannot be destroyed, submits CS Vaidyanathan.
  • There is no evidence that from 19th century till 1949, Hindus were restricted from entering inner courtyard, or that Namaz was offered in the inner courtyard, Vaidyanathan quoting Allahabad HC judgment.
  • Vaidyanathan quoting statements given by PW1 and PW2 on how Hindus have been going on piligrimage to Ayodhya for centuries to buttress his case.
  • An idol of a Hindu temple is a juristic person. Where shebait is acting against interests of idol, a worshipper can fight on behalf of the idol, CS Vaidyanathan argues.
  • Destruction of temple /idol and contruction of mosque over it will not deprive deity and temple of the ownership of the place, Vaidyanathan quoting Allahabad HC judgment.
  • All the judges in Allahabad High Court judgment have held that the suit is maintainable, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • CS Vaidyanathan showing to the Bench drawings of the disputed site setting out detailed plan of the temple before it was allegedly demolished.
  • Their submission of adverse possession is not proved since they have not been able to establish exclusive possession. They admit at all relevant times that Hindus had also access to the place, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • That Muslim parties offered prayer at the place from 1850s to 1949 does not mean they can claim 1/3 of the place since they have neither been able to prove title nor adverse possession to the exclusion of Hindus, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • Have Muslims by construction of Mosque taken exclusive possession of the place? Ouster of possession of Hindus has not been established. Hence, deity continues to be the owner despite construction of mosque, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • Hindus claim of possession has never been disputed. Their claim is it has been joint possession. Every single document and oral evidence continues to talk about us praying at this place, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • The Bench rises for lunch. The hearing will continue at 2 pm.
  • Court asks CS Vaidyanathan to come with an answer for the question as to how the negation of title of the Waqf Board will establish the deity’s claim to full title in the post lunch session.

Post Lunch Session

  • Constitution Bench assembles post lunch to resume hearing in the case.
  • CS Vaidyanathan tells the Court that there are three concepts – abode of deity, property of deity and the place itself being the deity. “We’re claiming that the place itself is a deity and there cannot be a joint possession of the place“, Vaidyanathan.
  • In case where the place itself is a deity, there cannot be a question about joint possession, CS Vaidyanathan
  • Justice DY Chandrachud rebuts, “There is an assumption here that your view that place itself is a deity is universal. Other view is that this is a place of worship and creates some rights. Point is – there can be two different views.
  • It has been held by SC and Privy Council that property of deity cannot be divided. Therefore deity itself also cannot be partitioned. It remains to be a deity forever, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • The faith of the people in the sanctity of the place was not shaken merely on the ground that a mosque was built there, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • At some point they (Waqf board) have had access doesn’t mean they have proved that they have title, CS Vaidyanathan.
  • Justice SA Bobde: So your submission is that there used to be a temple there and by virtue of the ruins, it continues to be a deity? CS Vaidhyanathan: The structure may have been ruined but the faithful devotees remained.
  • CS Vaidyanathan cites the Carnegie report which said that Ayodhya is to Hindus what Mecca is to Muslims.
  • Rajeev Dhavan objects to Vaidyanathan’s citing findings of reports etc and calls this “hop, skip and jump” way of argument, adds that no evidence has been placed on record yet.
  • CJI Ranjan Gogoi: Dr. Dhavan, when your turn to argue comes, you can place evidence if you wish to and we will read with you. Dhavan: I hope you do.
  • CJI Gogoi: Mr. Vaidyanathan you argue your case as you want and take as much time as you want. We are not in any hurry. This is for all the Counsel. Let us be loud and clear here. We are not in any hurry and we don’t want any more interruptions.
  • The Bench rises for the day. The hearing will continue tomorrow.

[Read Order]

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