The Ayodhya case was referred to a Constitution Bench on 9th January of this year. Prior, a three-judge Bench had declined to the issue to a bigger Bench.
The apex court, seeing that the mediation efforts in the decades-old dispute had failed, took up the case for everyday hearings beginning from Tuesday i.e. 6th of August. Before the contentions started, the bench, involving Justice SA Bobde, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice SA Nazeer, rejected the plea for recording the Ayodhya case proceedings as was sought by previous RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya.
BRIEF OF DAY 1 HEARING:
- Nirmohi Akhara presented his arguments first on Tuesday saying that they have been fighting for this for so long because it is an issue of emotions for them.
- It was also contended by Nirmohi Akhara that –‘No Muslims were allowed to enter the structure since 1934’. He additionally referred to decisions to back his argument that “a spot can’t be viewed as a mosque if no prayers or namaz are offered there.” Citing another proof, the counsel said that the absence of arrangement for ‘wuzu’, by which Muslims wash hands and feet before namaz, at questioned site was interpreted by the Allahabad high court to arrive at the conclusion that prayers were not being offered there for long and thus it had ceased to be a mosque.
- CJI on the first date of hearing asked the petitioner to prove that there was existence of any temple and there was idol in it.
DAY 2 HEARING:
- Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, for the Nirmohi Akhara continued his argument on day 2 that the suit is not barred by limitation.
- Preliminary order under section 145, Cr. P. C. was passed by the City Judicial Magistrate, Faizabad in December, 1949 directing the attachment of and giving the charge of the inner courtyard of the main temple to the receiver. Ex-parte interim order that the idol shall not be removed became final on March 3, 1951. The High court dismissed the appeal against it on April 26, 1955 and the temporary injunction became final. Jain contended that his suit was filed on December 17, 1959 when the Se1tion 145 proceeding was still pending and even if Article 120 of the old Limitation Act is applied then also the suit is within limitation. Section 145 proceeding is still continued and is not disposed off till today.
- Jain also said in his argument that the limitation period starts running from the date of final order according to Section 47 of the Limitation Act and hence his suit is not barred by limitation period because there was no final order.
- Justice S. A. Bobde observed that, if there is no final order then Section 47 cannot be invoked because Section 47 says 3 years from the date of the final order.
- As Article 142 of the old Limitation Act deals with the limitation for ‘possession of immovable property when the plaintiff, while in possession of the property, has been dispossessed or has discontinued the possession’, both Justices Bobde and D. Y. Chandrachud had asked whether the Akhara could be said to have been dispossessed by virtue of the appointment of the receiver as the attachment order was to only secure the property. Answering to this Jain said that the cause of Action is not same as that of the limitation.
- Jain also discussed the position of the Akhara as a ‘shebait’ in respect of the temple, that “the shebait has not only duties to discharge in connection with the endowment, but he has a beneficial interest in the debutter property”, and that “even where no emoluments are attached to the office of the shebait, he enjoys some sort of right or interest in the endowed property which partially at least has the character of a proprietary right”.
- The bench discussed and made some further queries and Jain said that he will prepare. When the admitted original documents could not be produced, the bench chose to hear Senior Advocate K. Parasaran for plaintiff Gopal Singh Visharad.
Parasaran spoke on Limitation by citing judgments in relation to when cause of action arises. K Parasaran also cited historical texts to buttress contention of existence of Ram temple at Ayodya.
- K Parasaran for Ram Lalla submitted that the faith of millions of worshippers that the particular place was where Ram was born and temple was there, is itself evidence of the same.
- He further submitted that if the placing of the idols of the Hindu deities was a “continuing wrong”, it was “snapped” by the order of the court for attachment and the appointment of the receiver. “When the court takes the property into its custody, it is an act of court to preserve the rights of all parties.
- Mr. Parasaran said that act of placing the idols was a complete act and could be a continuing consequence of a wrong, in view of the subsequent attachment and injunction. “It is like trespass”, observed Justice Bobde, asking if the idols have been carbon dated.
By this the hearing of Day 2 concluded and will continue on Day 3 i.e. on 8th August, 2019.