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Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN | New Delhi | Aug 31, 2019:: Chances of the Supreme Court giving a final verdict in November in the 70-year-old litigation for ownership of the 2.77 acre Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya brightened as all Hindu parties, who were awarded two-thirds of the disputed land by the Allahabad High Court, have completed their arguments. The hearing had started on August 6.
Giving a patient hearing to counsel but not allowing them to repeat or reiterate each other’s arguments, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer appeared to have achieved the unimaginable — completion of arguments on behalf of deity Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara, All India Ram Janmasthan Punaruthan Samiti, two factions of Hindu Mahasabha, Shia Waqf Board and legal heir of Gopal Singh Visharad, who had first instituted a suit in 1951 after idols were installed inside Babri Masjid in December 1949.
The Allahabad HC had divided the 2.77 acre disputed land equally among three parties, with one-third going to deity Ram Lalla under the central dome of the mosque prior to its demolition in 1992, another third comprising the Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi to Nirmohi Akhara and the last third to Sunni Waqf Board.
With arguments on behalf of deity Ram Lalla and Nirmohi Akhara getting over on Day 16 of the proceedings, the main party left to advance arguments is Sunni Waqf Board represented by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who had protested against the five-days-a-week hearing schedule fixed by the SC.
With many in the court corridors wondering whether the bench would be able to conclude proceedings and deliver a judgment before the retirement of CJI Gogoi on November 17, the completion of arguments by parties awarded two-thirds of the disputed land brightens the chances of the court delivering the final verdict in November.
When asked by the bench, Dhavan had earlier said he would take 20 days to complete arguments on behalf of Sunni Wakf Board. Even if Dhavan lives up to his assertion, it would still leave the SC with more than a month to firm up its verdict on the issue that possibly could give a quietus to a dispute that had rocked the polity since opening of locks of disputed structure’s gate in 1986, followed by its demolition by kar sevaks in December 1992.
Shia Waqf Board, through M C Dhingra, supported the claim of Hindu parties over the disputed structure and said idols were placed in the mosque in 1949, it used to be under a Shia ‘mutwali’ (in charge of the structure). However, in 1946, a court had dismissed the Shias’ claim to manage the disputed structure but the Shia Waqf Board filed an appeal only in 2017 in the SC, which is pending.
For a Hindu party, senior advocate P N Mishra argued on the basis of Islamic laws that Babri Masjid could never be regarded as a mosque. “The disputed structure was built on land which did not belong to Babur or Mir Baqi. The land was never voluntarily given for waqf purpose by its owner in Ayodhya. Namaz was not offered twice a day regularly for it to qualify as a mosque.
There were temple bells, idols and pictures of animals inside the structure making it unfit to be a mosque. A mosque cannot coexist with a temple and a mosque built over demolished temple is impermissible in Islamic law. According to 17th century ‘farman’ of emperor Shahjahan, once a temple, always a temple. Lastly, Hindus have been worshipping at the disputed structure continuously for centuries,” he said.