The Supreme Court Thursday, in a 2:1 majority verdict, ruled that the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case – that mosques are not integral to Islam – will not be referred to a larger bench, clearing the way for the apex court to hear the main Ayodhya title suit. The majority verdict was pronounced by Justice Ashok Bhushan, who read on his and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s behalf. Justice S Abdul Nazeer presented a dissenting judgment.
The statement in Faruqui case was in the limited context of immunity claimed by the petitioners for the mosque from acquisition, Justice Bhushan said, adding that “it need not be read broadly to mean mosque can never be essential to practise of Islam”.
“The present case shall be decided on its own facts, the Ismail Farooqui judgment would have no impact on it,” Justice Bhushan added.
Justice Nazeer, in his judgment, said “questionable observations” in Faruqui ruling were “arrived at without undertaking comprehensive examination” and ‘have permeated” the judgement in the main Ayodhya title suit. He further stated that it needs to be brought in line with the Shirur mutt case. The next hearing has been slated for October 29.
Muslim organisations had argued before the special bench that the “sweeping” observation of the apex court in the 1994 verdict needed to be reconsidered by a five-judge bench as “it had and will have a bearing” on the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for legal representative of petitioner M Siddiq, had said that the observation that mosques were not essential for practising Islam were made by the apex court without any enquiry or considering the religious texts. The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the top court that some Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing in the “long-pending” Ayodhya temple-mosque land dispute case by seeking reconsideration of the observation in the 1994 verdict that a mosque was not integral to Islam.