New Delhi:Saying that only a mosque or temple of “extreme significance" will be protected is wrong and in effect reduces the scope of Article 25 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution, said Rajeev Dhawan before the top court as he argued for the Sunni Wakf Board in the Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid dispute.
“A mosque is a mosque forever," argued Dhawan on Friday. “Can one say that it loses its significance if it is destroyed? You can’t. It will remain so until an acquisition takes place," he added.
Every religious structure is of equal significance and it would be incorrect to adopt a “comparative approach to determine whether or not it is essential to a particular religion or not", he said.
Dhawan was making submissions before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by chief justice Dipak Misra as it considered whether the law laid down in a 1994 judgement needed to be revisited by a constitution bench.
According to him, there could not be a directive saying that a particular mosque was essential to the practise of Islam and the other not -- because of the fact that namaz can be offered anywhere.
“How is the uniqueness of a mosque or a gurdwara lost and to whom? There is no reason to treat either structure as less significant as they all hold a status that is important to their community", he remarked.
On 24 October, 1994, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that offering prayers at every location would not be an “essential or integral part" of a religious practice unless the place had a particular significance for that religion, so as to have formed an essential or integral part of it.
The 1994 judgment says that a Muslim can pray anywhere, and that it does not make any difference if it is a mosque or not.
The court is hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad high court in four civil suits. They challenge the high court verdict that mandated a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre temple/mosque site.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court had ruled in favour of partitioning the land equally among three parties—the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and ‘Ram Lalla’ (infant Lord Ram), represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.
A civil suit for deciding the title of the property on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on 6 December 1992 had been filed before the high court. The apex court stayed this decision in 2011.
The Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh told the Supreme Court in August that it is amenable to building a mosque in a Muslim-dominated area, at a reasonable distance from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site.
It said that rather than partition the site in Ayodhya, the proposed mosque could be located at a reasonable distance from the disputed site to avoid any clashes in the future.
The case will be heard next on 6 April.