The Sunni Central Wakf Board on Monday questioned the locus standi of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas in the Ayodhya litigation and wondered who would get the right of management if the court decides to give charge to the Hindu parties: — the Nirmohi Akhara, which had the shebait rights, or the Nyas, “set up only in 1985”.
“The Nyas has no locus in the matter, nor can it be party to any suit…. Suppose your lordships were to decide to give charge to, whom would you give to — the shebait or a new body (trust) created in 1985 which wants to throw everyone out and which is also asking for title,” senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Board and one of the appellants, M Siddiq, told a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
A shebait under Hindu law is entrusted with the task of maintaining and preserving an idol and its property.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, is hearing appeals against the September 30, 2010 verdict of Allahabad High Court in the Ayodhya dispute.
Dhavan said that according to the Akhara, the Nyas “had no relation with the case whatsoever”. He added, “I say it was created for a different purpose.”
He said the entire object of suit number five filed by Ramlalla, Nyas and Deoki Nandan Agarwal as next friend of the deity was for a new temple under the Nyas.
Dhavan, who had earlier accepted that the Akhara had shebait rights in respect of idols of Hindu deities placed in the outer courtyard of the disputed site in Ayodhya, said the petitioners had contended that Akhara was removed from managing it because of misappropriation,
“If there was misappropriation, there must have been evidence”, he said, adding that no such evidence has been brought on record. On Ram Janmabhoomi — the birthplace of Ram — being one of the plaintiffs, Dhavan said this was done only to ensure that no other person can make a claim over the disputed land.
He said that the submission that mosques other than the ones at Mecca and Medina are not integral to Islamic faith, or churches other than Jerusalem or the Vatican are not integral to Christians, would violate the fundamental right to practice religions under Article 25 of the Constitution. “There cannot be discrimination between Indic religions and other religions which have come from outside,” he submitted.
Dhavan also posed questions on the locus of Agarwal, who had filed the suit as next friend of Ramlalla Virajman (the deity of Ayodhya). He said members of VHP were authorised to be included as trustees of the Nyas, and accordingly Agarwal had been made a trustee.
He said, “This is how Deoki Nandan Agarwal got locus to file the suit as friend of deity…. Deoki Nandan had no role. He was not a believer…he was brought in to usurp…” Meanwhile, the three-member panel appointed by the court to explore mediation in the matter informed it on Monday that Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara had written to it, requesting that the mediation proceedings that had been dropped earlier be resumed, and be proceeded simultaneously with the hearing.
In a related development, the court asked its registry to inform on the time required to activate live streaming of the proceedings of the case.