Forty days after the Supreme Court began hearings arguments in the sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, it has now sought moulding of relief written notes from the contesting parties, with a verdict expected to be made before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi departs office on November 17.
The dispute itself has been brewing since the 19th century, with numerous parties involved in varying capacities. However, it ultimately surrounds a 2.77-acre piece of land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, that once accommodated Babri Masjid, a mosque built in the 16th century by Mughal ruler Babar.
In 1992, the mosque was demolished by Hindutva activists who believe it to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. In 2010, following a decision by the Allahabad High Court, the land was divided between three main parties - the Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lalla Virajman (the idol of Lord Ram as a baby) and the Sunni Waqf Board.Nirmohi Akhara
Representing the Nirmohi Akhara, senior lawyer SK Jain argued that that the Akhara – a Hindu denomination that worships Lord Ram – has always maintained possession of the land and managed the endowment long before any of the other parties laid claim. Its claim, he argued, can be traced back to 1885, when the then Mahant, Raghubar Das, filed a suit against the Faizabad (Ayodhya’s district) administration, seeking an order that prohibited it from interfering with the building of a Ram temple on the site. The suit was dismissed by the court. Jain also argued that the Ram Lalla Virajman should never have been granted rights to act as a ‘friend’ to the deity in 1989, following a plea made by Deoki Nandan Agarwal, a former High Court judge and Vishwa Hindu Parishad member.Ram Lalla Virajman and Ramjanmasthan
Senior lawyers CS Vaidyanathan and K Parasaran, arguing on behalf of the Ram Lalla Virajman and Ramjanmasthan, asserted that the Allahabad High Court had made a grave mistake in dividing the land into three parts. They made the claim that if any religious institution did, in fact, stand on the land, the option of dividing the land should have immediately been dismissed. They put forth the argument that an “integrated entity” cannot be partitioned as any attempt to do so would damage its sanctity.
Ram Lalla Virajman and Ramjanmasthan had made their case in 1989 itself over the title right of the entire disputed property. The deity, Ram Lalla Virajman" through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Ramjanmasthan (also called the Ram Janambhoomi or Janmabhoomi) - the birthplace of Lord Ram - had originally argued that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a "juristic entity".
The third party in the dispute, the Sunni Waqf Board, became part of the suit in 1961 when it sought possession of the site. The board had argued that Muslims had been using the site as a place of worship since Babur’s construction of the mosque in the 16th century, up until the Ram Lalla deity was placed illegally at the site in 1949. They also disputed claims made by the Hindu parties that the mosque was originally constructed with material from the destroyed Hindu temple upon which it was allegedly built.
Recognising the Nirmohi Akhara as manager of sections of the disputed land though, senior lawyer Rajeev Dhawan, representing the Sunni Waqf Board, stated that SC should not treat the Ram Lalla and Ramjanmasthan as juristic personalities, and invalidate any claims to the land made by them.
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