Babri case more than just land title

Last Updated 21 September 2010, 19:14 IST

The verdict in the case, technically referred to as the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid Title suits and to be delivered by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Friday, will be lengthy and complex given its nature.

According to lawyers associated with the case, in which the first suit dates back to 1885, the court may not give answers on all the issues involved in the matter but will certainly have to clear the air on the main issues.

There were historical issues as to who had got the mosque constructed—Mughal king Babar or his governor Mir Baqi in 1528— and whether it was built after demolishing a Hindu temple, said the lawyers familiar with the suits.

The court has also to decide whether there existed a temple at the disputed site before1528 and if the suit filed by the Babri committee in 1961 seeking possession of the site is barred by limitation, the lawyers say.

Then there are questions involving religious faith such as whether it was indeed the birth place of Lord Rama and whether the Hindus had been offering prayers there since times immemorial.

The lawyers say some other issues upon which the court will be giving its rulings are whether there could be a mosque without minarets and whether a mosque loses its essential character once idols have been placed there. “The court has also to decide whether there could be a mosque, which is surrounded by graveyards and whether it could still be called a mosque after its demolition,” Ranjana Agnihotri, counsel for the Akhil Bhartiya Ramjanambhoomi Punuruddhar Samiti, a defendant in the suit, told Deccan Herald here.

Contrary to the claims of some of the Hindu outfits that the issue pertains to faith and as such it cannot be decided by the courts, Agnihotri said the court was fully competent to decide the issues.

“The court may choose to leave some questions unanswered if it does not find enough evidence to decide them,” she went on to say. Agnihotri said in reply to a question that the decision of the High Court was “not final”. “The aggrieved party could always approach the Supreme Court,” she said.

First suit
Incidentally, the first suit in the matter dates back to 1885, when one Mahant Raghubar Das had sought to build a Ram Temple on the land adjoining the disputed structure and claimed ownership of the land on the ground that the mosque had been built after demolishing the temple in 1528.

The suit was dismissed on the ground that the alleged demolition of the temple had occurred over 350 years earlier and hence the remedy sought was too late. The origin of the present suits lay in a report lodged with the police in Ayodhya in 1949 alleging that some people had broken the locks of the  structure and installed a Ram idol and several other Hindu idols and articles of worship. A year later the Hindu Mahasabha member Gopal Singh Visharad and the Paramhansa Ramchandra Das filed civil suits in the Faizabad court against some district officials and Muslims. They sought an injunction against removal of the idols and demanded permission for uninterrupted puja and darshan. An interim court order later directed that the idols should remain there.
The case was shifted to the Allahabad HC’s Lucknow bench in 1989. The special/full bench had also directed the Archaeological Survey of India to carry out excavation of the site and file a report.

While it took 60 years for the conclusion of the hearing, as many as 87 witnesses, including 54 Hindus and 33 Muslims, had been deposed and examined in the court.
DH News Service

(Published 21 September 2010, 19:14 IST)

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