The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing in the Ayodhya case for February 8, 2018. The case was being heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
Citing political ramifications, senior counsel Kapil Sibal asked the court to hear the matter only in July 2019. Meanwhile, appellant Muslim parties questioned the reason for hearing the case now and wondered if there was some kind of “hurry”.
The history of the Ayodhya conflict can be dated back to 1853 when two groups, Hindus and Muslims, clashed over the site of worship. However, the first lawsuit was filed on January 29, 1885, when the Mahant of Janmasthan, Raghubar Das, filed a civil suit against the Secretary of State for India in Council to build a temple at the Ram Chabutara spot. In independent India, the first lawsuit was filed after 1949, and in 1959, Nirmohi Akhara filed a litigation laying claim to the disputed site. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Waqf board also filed a litigation seeking possession of Babri mosque in 1961.
The Allahabad High Court, in its verdict on September 30, 2010, distributed the 2.77 acres of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site into three parts, giving each to Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, UP, and Ramlalla Virajman. However, the order was challenged before the Supreme Court on May 9, 2011, which in its verdict stayed the operation of the decree and ordered status quo of the land and other adjoining areas acquired by the Centre in 1993.
The Apex Court on February 25, 2013, allowed the replacement of worn out tarpaulin, polythene sheet by new ones of the same size and quality. On August 11, 2017, the parties have been given three months to translate all oral evidence and exhibited documents in various languages. This process has been completed and the much-awaited verdict in Ayodhya dispute case is expected to come this month.
Babri Masjid hearing Live Updates:
3.46 pm: The Supreme Court has deferred the Ayodhya dispute matter for further hearing on February 8, 2018.
3.40 pm: Appellant Muslim parties questioned the reason for hearing the case now and wondered if there was some kind of “hurry”.
3.30 pm: Advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Dhawan along with other petitioner counsels want a larger bench of atleast 7 Judges to hear the ongoing matter.
3.20 pm: Petitioners are pleading for reasonable time to translate, file and serve the copies of all the exhibits and relevant documents, which were filed before the Allahabad High Court bench at Lucknow.
3.00 pm: Sibal told the apex court that there are serious repercussions outside the court whenever the matter is heard. He requested the court to take up the matter on July 15, 2019 once all the pleadings are complete, ANI reported.
2.35 pm: Kapil Sibal, who is representing Sunni Waqf Board, raised doubts over ASG Mehta’s claim; asks how more than 19000 pages of documents can be filed in such short time. Sibal also told SC that he and other petitioners have not been provided with all relevant documents.
2.25 pm: Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, representing the state of Uttar Pradesh, rebutted Kapil Sibal’s claim. Mehta, told SC that all the related documents and requisite translation copies are on record.
2.15 pm: Senior advocate Kapil Sibal is reading out the details of exhibits filed by the contesting defendants before the Allahabad High Court, reports ANI. Sibal told the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that all these exhibits are not filled before this court.
2:05 pm: Supreme Court begins hearing in Ayodhya dispute case.
2:05 pm: Kapil Sibal will be defending the claim of Sunni Wakf Board against Ram Mandir for fat fee. Some Shiva Bakhts, tweeted Subramaniam Swamy ahead of the hearing of the Ayodhya dispute.
1.00 pm: The apex is likely to begin the hearing at 2 pm today.
11.30 am: Here is how the three Allahabad High Court judges differed on whether the Babri Masjid was built after demolishing a temple:
Justice Agarwal recorded that “the disputed structure was not raised on a virgin, vacant, unoccupied, open land… There existed a structure, if not much bigger…, erstwhile structure was religious in nature and that too non-Islamic one… Material like stone, pillars, bricks, etc., of the erstwhile structure was used in raising the disputed structure”. He added, “it can safely be said that the erstwhile structure was a Hindu temple and it was demolished whereafter the disputed structure was raised.”
Justice Sharma said “Hindus have proved… that after demolition of the temple the mosque was constructed after re-using material and broken parts of the temple and the deities.”
Justice Khan differed: “No temple was demolished for constructing the mosque. Mosque was constructed over the ruins of temples which were lying… since a very long time before the construction of mosque and some material thereof was used in construction of the mosque.” He added, however: “I have not delved too deep in the history and the archaeology” as it was not absolutely essential to decide these suits, and also because “having no pretence of knowledge of history I did not want to be caught in the crossfire of historians”.
11.00 am: In today’s Indian Express, RJD chief Lalu Prasad writes, “Babri demolition was an attack on idea and promise enshrined in India’s Constitution”. Read the full piece here
10.30 am: How many times did the dispute escalate into a full-blown riot?
In 1885, a brick wall with iron grills separating the Babri Masjid and the Ram Chabutara came up inside the courtyard where the mosque had once stood. This led to a heightening of tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities, and it escalated into a riot.
Riots also rocked Ayodhya in 1935, and certain parts of the Babri Masjid were damaged. The sections of the mosque, however, were rebuilt and reconditioned” at the state government’s expense.
After its demolition in 1992, Mumbai saw large-scale rioting and it eventually led to bomb blasts in 1993.
In 2002, when a group of Kar Sewaks were returning from Ayodhya, coaches of the Sabarmati Express were set on fire killing most of them. This acted as a trigger to full-blown communal riots in Gujarat, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
10.15 am: When did the Supreme Court intervene?
After the Allahabad High Court distributed 2.77 acres of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site among the three litigants, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court challenging its decision.
On May 9, 2011, the apex stayed the operation of the decree during the pendency of the appeal, and ordered status quo on the disputed site and adjoining 67.7 acres of land acquired by the Centre in 1993.
10.00 am: Who are the litigants in the Ayodhya dispute case?
Nirmohi Akhara sect: They are a group of ascetics who are devotees of Lord Ram.
Sunni Central Wakf Board, UP: It is an elected body maintenance the maintainance and control of several properties donated for religious or charitable purposes.
Ramlala Virajman: The idol of Lord Ram placed at the site after the Babri Masjid demolition.