Turning down objections against daily hearings, the Supreme Court Friday made it clear that it would continue with day-to-day hearing as ordered earlier in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid title dispute case. The clarification by the apex court came when senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Muslim parties including M Siddiq and the All India Sunni Waqf Board, raised objections that it will not be possible for him to take part in the proceedings five days a week.
“We are answering Dr Dhavan. We will continue the day to day hearing as decided. When your turn comes, if you need a mid-week break, we will consider it,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, heading a five-judge Constitution Bench hearing appeals against the September 30, 2010, verdict of the Allahabad High Court, said shortly before the day’s hearing concluded.
The hearing will resume Tuesday as Monday is a holiday on account of Eid.
As proceedings began Friday, Dhavan said he had heard rumours that the court was going to sit all five days of the week and that it should clear the air. Dhavan told the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, that this was the first appeal and should not be rushed through.
He said the court hearing a Constitutional matter continuously even on Mondays and Fridays has never happened before. Normally, Mondays and Fridays are reserved for miscellaneous matters — fresh cases and those on which notices have been issued — and cases which are referred to larger benches or Constitution benches are taken
up on the remaining days.
Dhavan said that a lot of research and preparation has to be undertaken before coming to court to argue. “You cannot tell the lawyers to read only the title and conclusions,” he said, adding he was not sure if anyone other than Justice Chandrachud would have read the entire judgement of the High Court.
He also said that he will not be able to assist the bench if this was not addressed. The CJI said the court had heard his submissions and will reply to it soon.
Meanwhile, senior Counsel K Parasaran, representing the deity Ramlalla, continued his arguments, explaining how a deity came to be considered a juridical person. Justice Bobde had put the question to the senior counsel and asked him how the court had started considering a deity a juridical person.
Parasaran replied that there were judgments of the court to the effect that something which is not in idol form can also be a juridical person. Referring to Dharma Shastras, he said that an “idol is not necessary for invoking divinity” and cited the example of Kedarnath.
He said that treating the deity as a juridical person began for the purpose of taxation and the one of the earliest judgements on this was by the Privy Council in 1925.
“It’s a judicially evolved doctrine, not a statutory or legislative one and, it is open for your Lordships to develop it even further,” he submitted.
He said that even hills were treated as divine which was why there is ‘parikrama’ conducted in Thiruvannamalai and in Chitrakoot.
Justice Bhushan told Parasaran that it has come in evidence that there was a ‘parikrama’ around the ‘janmasthan’ in Ayodhya and asked if that would give some sanctity to the latter being treated as a juridical person.
Parasaran replied that according to Dharma Shastras, “What matters is a deity, what does not matter is the form in which it is worshipped.”
“The deity for Hindus is the smallest of the smallest particle of an atom. The form is only for concentration, divinity is omnipresent,” he said, adding that giving divinity a juristic form was to protect the interest of the worshippers and other things attached to it.
The ‘pradakshina’ or ‘parikrama’ was an essential aspect of worship for Hindus and hence where it is done is also a juristic person, he said.
“God is all-pervading. So the manifestation of the divinity is also worshipped. The whole of Ayodhya is divine for Hindus and therefore everything connected to it is a juristic person,” he said.
Justice Bobde wanted to know if anyone from the Raghu Vamsom, into which Lord Ram was believed to have been born into, was still around. The senior counsel said he did not know about it.