In a major breakthrough to the decade-old Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case, the Hindu religious bodies on Friday told the Supreme Court that the matter was purely a 'property dispute' and cannot be termed a socio-religious debate to refer to a larger bench.
Earlier, senior advocate Harish Salve told the court to not refer the matter to a larger bench since a three-judge bench was already seized of it. The bench comprises Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.
Salve appeared for original plaintiff Gopal Singh Visharad, who was among the first to file a civil suit in the case in 1950.
As per the prevalent practices and traditions of the apex court, the appeals against orders passed by a full bench of any High Court have always come up for adjudication before a three-judge bench of the top court, instead of a two-judge bench, Salve added.
Senior advocate K. Parasaran, appearing for the deity, Ram Lalla Virajman, also supported Mr. Salve’s arguments and said the matter should be heard by a three-judge bench only.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for the Muslim bodies and petitioner M. Siddiq, said that looking at the sensitivities of the matter and its sheer importance, the case should be referred to a larger bench.
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The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on May 15.
The special bench of the apex court is seized of a total of 14 appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court judgement delivered in four civil suits.
In the landmark hearing, the Allahabad High Court in 2010 mandated a three-way division of the disputed site in Ayodhya. They ordered that the land should be partitioned equally among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The Babri Masjid was built by Mughal emperor Babur in Ayodhya back in 1528. Later on December 6, 1992, Hindu Karsevaks destroyed the mosque during a political rally claiming that the Ram temple, situated in the land was actually demolished to construct the mosque.
Though there was no such evidence that the disputed structure was constructed after demolition of a temple, the court agreed that a temple or a temple structure predated the mosque at the same site. Moreover, the excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India also suggested that the predating structure was a massive Hindu religious building.
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Since then the matter has been in the light and turned into a political riot in India.