On Day 31 of the hearing of Ayodhya-Babri Masjid land title dispute case, the Muslim parties asserted that the Hindu claim on the disputed site did not arise before 1865, and the belief that Lord Rama's birthplace was exactly underneath the central dome was as recent as 1989. The Muslim side also denied 'accepting' that Ram Chabutra was the birthplace of the deity.
Arguing for the Sunni Central Wakf Board, senior advocate Zafaryab Jilani told the five-judge Constitution Bench that the Board does not accept Ayodhya as the birthplace of the deity, but going by the Hindu belief, Ram Chabutra, a raised platform at least 60 feet away from the main structure was also being worshipped as the birthplace of Lord Rama
"Our stance is that it is their belief and we are not taking any steps in that regard after an observation to that effect by a District Judge", Jilani said.
Jilani's primary line of argument to puncture the Hindu parties' claim was that the other side could not produce enough evidence to prove that the disputed structure was ever worshipped before 1865.
According to Bar and Bench, Jilani relied on gazetteers to buttress the case that there was no worship by Hindus in the disputed structure. He cited a report from 1862 which showed that another temple in the Ramkot Fort was worshipped as the janmasthan.
He further cited other documented cases of janmasthan worship in Ayodhya and claimed that another place called Ram Chabutra — close to the outer precinct of the disputed site but still 60 feet away from the central dome — is also being worshipped as the place where Lord Rama was born. "This is their (Hindus') belief," said Jilani.
The judges, however, confronted Jilani with the gazeteers of the pertinent time. Justice Ashok Bhushan said that there were reports that it was the Britishers who divided the place into inner and outer courtyard. Furthermore, Justice DY Chandrachud pointed out that there were several official reports that referred to the site in Ayodhya as the birthplace. He quoted reports to state that there are claims that prior to 1855 or the historical event of the Sepoy mutiny in 1857, both Hindus and Muslims prayed inside the mosque. The fence was built only after 1857.
"Your Lordships should not pick one or two lines from 100s of pages of testimonies but should examine the testimony as a whole", Jilani told the bench.
He argued that the belief that the place of birth was below the middle dome was non-existent till 1989. He claimed that none of the suits filed from 1950 to 1989 by Hindu parties make such a claim.
To this, Justice SA Bobde sought to know whether there was any evidence that Hindus tried to worship at the site after the mosque was built but before 1855 and the Muslims opposed it. Jilani replied saying that the Hindus started asserting their right in the outside portion of the structure only around 1865.
After Jilani concluded his arguments, senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora took over and made several submissions regarding the admissibility and/or reliance of the Archeological Survey of India report which the Allahabad High Court relied upon in its now disputed Ayodhya judgment.
Arora quoted a 1863 order by a district judge, who apparently denied the permission to build a temple on the grounds that "it isn't wise to alter status quo after 350 years." "Then can we, 500 years later, allow claim to title based on oral evidence and gazetteers etc," Arora asked.
Arora also sought to raise questions on the ASI report claiming that Archeology is more in the nature of social science; "It is not precise like Physics, Chemistry etc," she claimed.
"If you are saying it is vague and not exact, then it cannot be called a science," Justice Bobde said.
Arora argued that the ASI report has errors and contradictions in it; "It is the opinion of Archeologist. It is evidence but a weak kind of evidence," she said.
She claimed that the ASI report does not conclude that any structure was demolished to build the mosque. "And today there is no dispute that a mosque stood at the disputed site," Arora claimed.
Justice Bobde interjected saying what was the basis of her claim. "Because there are records of the mosque's destruction," Arora responded.
"Don't say that... there has been so many arguments from the other side that it wasn't a mosque at all," Bobde said.
"If ASI is not able to show that there was demolition, and a mosque came up at a place where there was no demolition, then what is the basis of their suit. In Somnath, there was material to show that the particular temple was demolished. There is nothing like that in Ayodhya," Arora was quoted as saying.
Arora said, "If a structure crumbles, and titleholder does nothing to restore it, then if somebody else builds something on that land many years later when the land was lying unused and barren, a claim cannot be raised against it."
"Furthermore , it is not even their case that the temple was there. They have to show some evidence about the existence of temple before the mosque was built. Their evidence is a traveller's writing of 17th century about something which somebody told him," Arora said.
Arora raised a question on a summary of the ASI report saying that it has not been attributed to or signed by any member of the ASI team. The bench asked if Arora meant to discredit the entire ASI report, but Arora replied in the negative. Then the judges asked her if she accepted the report, she again said no. The hearing will continue tomorrow on the matter.
With inputs from Bar and Bench and News18
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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2019 00:26:03 IST