New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the judgment of the Allahabad high court on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land dispute decided in September last year.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad high court had partitioned the contested 2.77 acres of land in a 2:1 ratio between Hindu and Muslim groups, respectively.
The court, while staying the judgment, also said the position of a 7 January 1993 order will be restored, meaning that no religious rites may be carried out at the entire 67 acre site (surrounding the main disputed area).
However, Ravi Shankar Prasad, senior advocate appearing for one of the litigants, said after the hearing that certain Hindu rituals were permissible under the 1993 order of the Supreme Court.
The court stayed the high court’s verdict, although none of the parties before the bench wanted an injunction. Justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha reasoned that none of the litigants had asked the high court to partition the land.
“Nobody prayed for partition. The court has laid out an entirely new relief. How can a decree of partition be passed in this matter?” asked the Supreme Court, adding “this is something that needs to be corrected at this level - prima facie it appears so.”
The court has admitted the appeals from both the Muslim and Hindu sides and will soon determine which bench of the apex court will hear the case, or if a special bench of judges should be constituted.
“Court has done something on its own. It’s strange. Such kind of decrees cannot be allowed to be in operation,” the bench said while staying the high court’s verdict.
“It is a difficult situation now, the position is that it (the high court verdict) has created litany of litigation,” the bench observed.
The bench was hearing a batch of appeals filed by Nirmohi Akhara, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Jamait Ulama-I-Hind and Sunni Central Wakf Board, besides the one filed on behalf of Bhagwan Ram Virajman.
The Wakf Board and Jamait Ulama-I-Hind have submitted that the high court’s verdict should be quashed as it was based on faith and not on evidence. They have contended that the court has committed an error by holding that the demolished Babri mosque stood at Lord Ram’s birth place.
They have contended that claims of Muslims, Hindus and the Nirmohi Akhara over the disputed site were mutually exclusive and could not be shared.
“It was nobody’s case in the high court that the Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara were in joint possession of the disputed premises. The claims of the three sets of plaintiffs were mutually exclusive in the sense each set of the plaintiffs claimed the entire property as its own and no one sought a decree for partition of the property,” the appeals have said.
The Hindu Mahasabha, on the other hand, has sought only partial annulment of the majority verdict of the high court, which ruled handing over one third of the disputed site to Muslims.
It has sought the apex court’s endorsement of the 30 September minority verdict by Justice Dharam Veer Sharma who favoured handing over of the entire land to the Hindus.
“The judgement dated 30 September 2010 by Justice S U Khan and Justice Sudhir Agarwal should be set aside to the extent that one third of the property in dispute has been declared in favour of Muslims and to allot share to them in the decree,” the Hindu Mahasabha has said in its petition.
It has appealed to the apex court “to maintain the judgement passed by Justice Dharam Veer Sharma” as the effective verdict.
Earlier, Delhi MLA Shoaib Iqbal had also filed the appeal in the Supreme Court which refused to entertain it, saying the petition “is misconceived. Hence dismissed.”
PTI also contributed to this story