Updated: March 24, 2018 12:51:50 pm
ASSAILING THE 1994 Constitution bench finding in the Ismail Faruqui case that a mosque “is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam…”, a Muslim petitioner in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case on Friday told the Supreme Court that the mosque enjoyed a unique place in Islam and its religious significance does not diminish just because it was destroyed.
The Faruqui verdict came on a plea challenging constitutional validity of Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act-1993, under which 67.703 acres were acquired in Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex. It held that a mosque “is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open and accordingly, its acquisition is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution.”
“I went through Quran and Hadith… They say a mosque is a mosque forever… You cannot say mosque has no unique place… It’s unique to that community… You can destroy a mosque, but you cannot rob it of its religious significance…,” senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim petitioner, told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
Justice Bhushan said the judgment said places of worship of all religions could be acquired, not just mosque. Dhavan agreed but said, “it doesn’t seem right to tell them (Muslims) that a mosque built by them has lost significance”.
Senior counsel K Parasharan, appearing for a Hindu petitioner, said these points had already been raised to attack the acquisition of 67.703 acres by the Centre in 1993. He wondered why Dhavan was raising them again when he was not challenging the acquisition.
Dhavan said the judgment says a mosque can be acquired for larger national purpose. “…Is the larger national purpose Ram Janmabhoomi? Is larger national purpose the political agenda of the government or what is stated in the white paper of BJP?,” he asked.
Taking umbrage at the order referring to karsevaks who demolished Babri Masjid as “miscreants”, he recalled that ministers attended rallies in run-up to the demolition. “ This was attempt by prominent Hindus, not all Hindus… this was a strident, calculated, deliberate attempt to destroy a mosque. Unless we accept it, we won’t get the right perspective.” He said the judgement had tried to draw “comparative significance” between places of worship. At this, Justice Bhushan said: “They have compared it in the context of the place that has to be acquired.” Dhavan replied: “No, they have compared Ramjanmabhoomi with a mosque.”
Questioning what constituted essential practice in Islam, Dhavan said the court was right in saying it should be viewed as a title dispute. Only the title and limitation needed to be looked into, he said. Justice Bhushan said the judgment did not say one faith is more important than another. Dhavan replied: “…religion is not just a matter of belief, but is a matter of practice… There’s a fear in the Muslim community that what happened with the (Babri) mosque can happen to any mosque.”
On Dhavan’s prayer that the entire judgment be sent to a larger bench for a relook, the CJI said if the court finds nothing wrong with the order, it will not refer the same. But if it disagreed with the Faruqui order, it would send to a larger bench the limited “principle” contained in certain paragraphs that had invited Dhavan’s objection. The court will hear the matter next on April 6.
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