Mosque central to Islam? SC may retook

Thursday 15th March, 2018

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Mosque central to Islam? SC may retook
AYODHYA Could reconsider 1994 rulingthat place of worship not integral
Satya Prakash
The Supreme Court today agreed to consider if its 1994 Constitution Bench ruling in the Ayodhya land acquisition case that the place of worship was not integral to Islam required reconsideration by a larger Bench.
A three-judge Special Bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra said before proceeding to take up the property dispute, it wanted to decide the issue earlier raised by senior advocate Rajiv Dha-van that the court's ruling in Dr M Ismail Flaruqui and
Others versus Union of India needed reconsideration.
It was supported by senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan, representing Ram Lalla. "The controversy should be put to an end," he said.
Dhavan ? who is representing some of the Muslim parties ? had on December 5 last year requested the Bench to refer the matter to a seven-judge Constitution Bench, saying the 1994 ruling by a five-judge Constitution Bench in the Ayodhya land acquisition case that a mosque was not central to Islamic faith needed reconsideration.
The Bench, which also included Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, however, rejected the plea for sending the entire dispute to a Constitution Bench.
It rejected all interim applications seeking to intervene in the case, except that of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, saying in an appeal in a civil case, no one could be allowed to join proceedings at this stage.
Many senior advocates, including Salman Khurshid and Arif Mohd Khan, wanted the Bench to allow their intervention applications on
behalf of various parties, but counsel for Sunni Wakf Board, Ram Lalla and Nir-mohi Akhara opposed their pleas on the ground that no third party could be allowed in a property dispute.
The Bench chose to revive Swamy's writ petition ? which was earlier converted into an interim application and tagged with the main Ayodhya case?and sent it to an "appropriate Bench". Swamy has contended that his right to pray is a superior right compared to appellants' right to property (claim over the disputed land).
Swamy told the Bench that it was on his plea that the hearing of the matter resumed. He said the Ayod-hya dispute was not a simple property dispute as it involved religious sentiments of 100 crore Hindus. It posted the matter for further hearing on March 23.
The top court is seized of cross-appeals challenging the Allahabad High Court's September 30, 2010, verdict dividing the 2.7-acre disputed land at the Ram Janmab-hoomi-Babri Masjid site equally between Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Wakf Board. All three chose to challenge the order before the top court. Besides, there are more than 10 other appeals as well.
Amid claims and counterclaims made by various Hindu and Muslim leaders over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayod-hya, the Supreme Court had on February 8 refused to be drawn into the religious arguments, saying it was only a property dispute.