The Sunni Central Waqf Board on Friday cited documents to contend that the Babri Masjid existed and was used for prayers by Muslims even after the 1934 communal riots, which damaged a part of it.
Interestingly, the Board, which has questioned the rationale of the belief in the disputed site in Ayodhya as being the birthplace of Ram, stated that the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca was a place of “intrinsic divinity”.
Senior advocate Zafaryab Jilani told a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that the site plan filed by the Nirmohi Akhara in a case in 1942 was proof that the mosque existed. “This is important to establish that in 1942, they admitted existence of mosque,” he told the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, which is hearing appeals against the September 20, 2010, verdict of the Allahabad High Court.
He drew the court’s attention to records of the Public Works Department about inspection of works at the “Babri Mosque” following the 1934 clashes. Jilani also said the mosque had an Imam who led prayers and a Muezzin who recited Azaan. “From 1934 to 1949, Muslims used the place as a mosque. Otherwise there was no need for Imam,” he said, adding “no document has come on record showing that it was used as a temple during this period”.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, also appearing for the Board and one of the appellants M Siddiq, opposed Ram’s birthplace ‘Asthan Sri Rama Janma Bhumi’ being a plaintiff in a 1989 suit in the case, saying it could not be considered a juristic person. He said that every sacral area cannot acquire the character of a juristic person, and the concept of a birthplace being treated as a juristic person was “invented in 1989” for the purpose of the suit.
Pointing out that texts like Skanda Purana were being relied on to prove the existence of ‘janmasthan’, he sought to know “what evidentiary value can be given to the proof of belief of Hindus that ‘janmasthan’ existed from time immemorial” for the purpose of treating it as a juristic person.
Intervening, Justice Chandrachud said “the sanctity of the belief has to be from the perspective of that religion” and that “unless its wholly extraneous…. when a belief is held, it has be accepted”.
Justice Bobde asked if there was any occasion before 1989 for anyone to assert that janmasthan was a juristic person.
“You are asking me to respond to an impossibility… If they did not assert from time immemorial to 1989, can they do it in 1989?” Dhavan replied.
“This is an evolving law,” said Justice Bhushan.
Dhavan countered saying: “Everything you worship and say is deserving worship does not have a juristic personality.”
Justice Bobde told him that according to an article he had given to the bench, “an object can be juristic person if it has certain rights or suffers certain liabilities”.
“So the only thing we need to see is can the piece of land have certain rights or suffer certain liabilities”, the judge added.
Dhavan said “that’s not the test. If you have juristic personality, you have these rights and duties” and not vice versa.
Dhavan also touched upon the concept of “swayam bhu”. According to the case of the Hindu side, the idols of Hindu deities had appeared on their own (swayam bhu) inside the dome of the Babri Masjid while the Muslim side claims they were placed there surreptitiously.
Justice Bobde then asked him if the “Kabaa is sculpted or swayam bhu”.
One of the lawyers on Dhavan’s team replied that it was built by the prophet. Dhavan added, “The scientific explanation is it was a meteor.”
The senior counsel said, “Kaaba is recognised because it’s intrinsically divine,” adding that “what people don’t know is that Muslims recognise all the kitabia as going back to Abraham”, who is regarded as the first prophet.
Dhavan also referred to Mount Kailash in China and said “they are there because they are divine”.
UP extends tenure of CBI judge
The UP government informed the Supreme Court that it had extended the tenure of CBI judge S K Yadav, who is hearing the Babri Masjid demolition case.
On July 19, a two-judge bench of Justices R F Nariman and Surya Kant while fixing a nine-month deadline for completion of trial and pronouncement of judgment in the case, in which prominent BJP leaders L K Advani and M M Joshi are among the accused, had asked the state government to extend the tenure of the judge who was due for retirement this month. The court ordered that his tenure be extended till the judgment is delivered.
The direction came after the judge wrote to the court saying that he would need six more months to conclude the matter.