SC rejects all intervention applications in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case; to continue hearing on 23rd March
The Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer began hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute today. As the proceedings began, Advocate on Record in the main appeal, Ejaaz Maqbool submitted that there were too many gatecrashers in this case and only those who are parties to the suit should be allowed to be heard.
The Court therefore asked Subramaniam Swamy why he should be allowed to intervene since he is not a party to the suit. Justice Bhushan said that since the matter is already very matter, the Court would not be allowing intervenors. The Court asked an intervenor – how a book could be brought on record at this stage since no new evidence can be admitted on record.
Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh, appearing for an intervenor, Ms. Aparna Bhatt and team, prayed that a secular solution should be reached for this dispute rather than proceeding on religious beliefs of Hindus and Muslims. Senior Adv. Salman Khurshid requests to place some research material on record and to render assistance.
Following this, the Chief Justice pronounced an order rejecting all intervention applications and directing the Supreme Court Registry not to entertain any more intervening applications.
Subramaniam Swamy argued that his writ petition which prays that he has a fundamental right to pray at the site should be converted into an intervening application and admitted.
The Court pronounced an order on his plea holding that his writ petition cannot be allowed to be converted into an interlocutory application. It will be listed separately as a writ petition as originally filed and accordingly be listed before the appropriate court.
The Court also pronounced another order directing the State to give a copy of all the records to all the parties, and to give translated versions of all books filed.
An Advocate presented what he referred to as a “concrete proposal“ to resolve the dispute in the form of an intervening application filed on behalf of Dr.Vishwanath Karad, owner of Maharashtra Institute Technology, Pune. The Court told the Advocate to first make parties agreeable to it. If that happened, the Court would record their settlement.
At the outset, Justice Bhushan asked Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan opening the case for the Sunni Waqf Board and M. Siddiq whether this matter should be placed before a larger bench, as this should be decided at the outset. The question arose because during the hearing on 5th December, Dhavan had submitted that the present case should be heard by a Constitution Bench as the decision of a Constitution Bench in Dr.M.Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India & Ors., (1994) 6 SCC 360 may have to be reconsidered by the Court. The Chief Justice, however, said that the whole matter or the entire case will not be referred to a Constitution Bench but only questions on principles laid down in the impugned judgment of the Allahabad High Court.
Thus, the Court decided to hear Dhavan solely on the question of whether the Constitution Bench judgment in Ismail Faruqui requires reconsideration and will therefore have to be referred to a Constitution Bench.
Dhavan began making his submissions on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board, M.Siddiq and others. Dhavan stated that the question he asks himself was “why was the Muslims’ right to pray at the mosque not restored after the destruction of Babri Masjid on 16th December?” He submitted that the impugned High Court judgment is based on one premise alone – this is a case entailing faith. Therefore, divide the disputed property into one-third each between the Hindus, the Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara. The High Court judgment relies on ‘belief’ and if this doctrine is accepted as a legal principle, it will affect the final outcome of the case.
He submitted that the question to be decided was whether praying in a Mosque is essential to Muslims, or whether, as the lower court said , “they can pray anywhere”. He moved on to the legal doctrine of “essential practice“ and what it means. He asserted that a Muslim’s right to pray in a Mosque is an essential practice of the Islamic faith.
He submitted that it important not to give too narrow a construction to the doctrine of “essential practice” to a religion. He further said that every mosque, temple and church has to be treated with respect. He put forth his contention is that although the mosque was destroyed but prayers were being offered till 1949. So it still remains a Mosque and therefore their prayer in suit should be granted.
He added that if there was any decency in our secular system, we would rebuild the mosque. He also submitted that even if it can be said that the mosque was acquired after destruction, it doesn’t cease to be a Mosque in the eyes of law.
Thereafter, the Bench rose for the day. The matter will be listed for next Friday, 23rd March, at 2 pm.
Read the order below:
HT to Avani Bansal (@bansalavani).