The Supreme Court of India will start today on Monday hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict which divided into three parts the land in Ayodhya on which the Babri Masjid stood since 1528.
A top court’s bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph will hear the case under “direction matters”.
The historic mosque beleived to be built by Mir Baqi, one of the commanders of Mughal Emperor Babur, was thrown into a controversy as a result of India’s communal politics. It was at last demolished in broad daylight on December 06, 1992 by Hindu extremists in the presence of top RSS, BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other right wing groups’ top leadership.
Following a lenghty judicial battle, the Allahabad High Court had in a verdict pronounced in 2010 equally divided the 2.77 acres of land between Ram Lalla, Sunni Wakf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. Hindus and Muslims however have both challenged the HC verdict in the Supreme Court hearing of which will start from today.
Another Supreme Court bench, headed by then CJI Dipak Misra had on September 27, 2018 refused to send to a larger bench the 1994 observation that a mosque is not an integral part of Islam. The petition was filed by some appellants who requested the court to reconsider its ruling in the M Ismail Faruqui Etc vs Union Of India And Others case, in which a Constitution Bench had observed that “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open”.
In a 2:1 verdict, the SC bench observed that the questionable observations made in Ismail Faruqui’s case were made in the context of land acquisition” and that “those observations were neither relevant for deciding the suits nor relevant for deciding these appeals”.
The judges also said that “the observation need not be read broadly to hold that a mosque can never be an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam”.
Justice Nazeer, one of the three judges of the Supreme Court bench, however had stuck a dissent note citing the SC’s three-judge bench’s September 24 order referring petitions seeking ban on Dawoodi Bohra community’s practice of female genital mutilation to a five-judge bench and said on the same principle, the Ayodhya land dispute as well as the remark in the Faruqui judgement, which raise an important constitutional question, deserved reference to a five-judge bench.
“I disagree with my brother judges”, Justice Nazeer said.
“What is essential to religion as laid down in [in the 1994 ruling] was arrived at without comprehensive examination”, he added.