New Delhi: The Supreme Court will decide whether the pleas challenging its 1994 verdict that the mosque is not an integral part of Islam should be re-examined by a larger bench. The judgment could impact the long-standing Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, which is hearing appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict of 2010, will decide the matter today. The bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the land be divided equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The top court had reserved its order on the plea by Muslim groups on July 20 seeking reconsideration by a larger bench the observations made by it in a 1994 verdict that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The SC had then held that a mosque was not an “essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam” and hence “its acquisition (by the State) is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India”.
The observations were made in the land acquisition matter pertaining to the Ayodhya site and the apex court had to consider two aspects as to whether a mosque could be acquired at all and whether a religious place of worship like a mosque, church or temple was immune to acquisition if it is a place of special significance for that religion and formed an essential and integral part of that religion.
While the Muslim body insists the land belongs to it because a mosque was built on it, the Hindu organisation is adamant that it was the birthplace of Lord Ram and as such, calls for the building of Ram temple there. While the high court verdict wasn’t unanimous in concluding that a Ram temple was demolished to make way for the mosque that was razed in 1992 by karsevaks, it did agree that a temple pre-dated the mosque.
On December 6, 1992, thousands of karsevaks had razed the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and over 2,000 people were reported to have been killed in the riots which followed the demolition.