SC terms Ayodhya case as a land dispute, adjourns case to 14 March

09 February 2018

The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned hearing in the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case to 14 March stating that documentation and translations are yet to be completed.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer, also said trat the  Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit is a ''pure land dispute''. The bench also refused permission to 32 activists and eminent personalities, including Teesta Setalvad, Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen, Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy to intervene in the dispute.

While tradition holds that the town was the birthplace of Lord Ram and Hindus believe that the Babur's tomb was built on the same spot, the activists want the apex court to deny both Hindus and Muslims access to the 2.77 acres of disputed land.

The cross petitions had challenged the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that had divided the disputed site between the Nirmohi Akhara, Lord Ram deity and the Sunni Waqf Board.

Meanwhile, the Ayodhya Sadbhavna Samnvyay Maha Samiti has made a proposal to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on the dispute. In a letter Samiti president Amarnath Mishra has proposed that the dispute site be given to the Hindu parties, while a mosque can be built on the land ''that will be made available by the Nirmohi Akhara''. Mishra is a close aide of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has been meeting parties to the dispute in the last few months.

The activists on the other hand were set to urge the special bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the 2.77 acres of disputed land shall not be given either to Hindus or Muslims but be used for a non-religious public use.

"We are public spirited citizens from various walks from life and across the length and breadth of India who feel it is critical as a commitment to the foundational value contained in this Constitution, to intervene and inject urgency and a sane voice in this dispute," they argued in their petition.

The court, however said there are vast majority of Indians, voiceless and unheard who have been mute victims to the festering sores and violence caused by this dispute. It cannot be held that the activists represent this vast majority and the Chief Justice told their lawyer that the court will not allow any interveners.

"We can't allow that right now. We will examine it at a later stage whether you should be heard or not. Not now. No," he said.

The 32 petitioners include slain filmmaker Safdar Hashmi's brother Sohail Hashmi, documentary maker Anand Patwardhan, academics Ganesh Devy, Jayati Ghosh, Kalpana Kannabiran, Muniza Khan and G Haragopal, editors Om Thanvi and Kumar Ketkar, businessman Cyrus Guzder, writer Kiran Nagarkar, Rupa Mody whose son, Azhar Mody went missing during the 2002 Gujarat riots and many other eminent personalities from diverse backgrounds.

The activists in their petition argue that ir application says, "It is our apprehension that if the Hon'ble court adjudicates the present civil appeals in favour of either of the contesting communities, it is bound to forge extreme opinion amongst the communities on both sides, which may result in aggravated incidents of violence as had been perpetuated earlier by the involvement of various political parties posing a serious threat to the secular fabric of the country.

"In light of the history of communal violence associated with the land, adjudication of the appeals in favour of either parties is bound to draw sharp reactions on both ends of the spectrum," they contended.

The SC is hearing appeals against the 2010 Allahabad High Court ruling that the 2.77 acres of disputed Ayodhya land be divided into three parts, with one-third going to Ram Lalla represented by Hindu Mahasabha, a third to Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining one-third to Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara.

While the three-judge bench was split on the status of the disputed structure, it did agree that a temple or a temple structure predated the mosque at the same site.

The other parties in the case are Shia Waqf Board and Uttar Pradesh government.

Political and religious leaders, mainly Hindu, are pushing for the construction of a Ram temple at the site where the Babri tomb was destroyed by a mob in 1992.

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