The Supreme Court is hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad high court that mandated a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre site. Photo: Sunil Malhotra
The Supreme Court is hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad high court that mandated a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre site. Photo: Sunil Malhotra

Supreme Court dismisses intervention pleas in Ayodhya case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected intervention pleas by religious groups and individuals, including BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, saying it will treat the Ayodhya case as a 'pure land dispute'

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed as many as 32 intervention applications in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, including those brought by filmmakers Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal, BJP politician Subramanian Swamy, and rights activist Teesta Setalvad.

It, however, allowed Swamy to mention his application seeking enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at the Ram temple in Ayodhya before an appropriate bench.

The orders came on a day when the court directed the registry against allowing filing of applications for intervention, impleadment or filing of documents/extracts by third parties who are not original parties to the case.

A three-judge bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said that on the next date of hearing—23 March—it would consider whether the law laid down in a 1994 judgment needed to be revisited by a Constitution bench.

On 24 October, 1994, a three-judge bench of the apex 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.

In this regard, Rajeev Dhawan, counsel for one of the appellants said, “The court will have to decide what is the meaning of a mosque. The 1994 judgment says that a Muslim can pray anywhere, it does not make any difference if it is a mosque or not. Can we say that a mosque is not essential and integral?"

On 7 February, the court said that the matter would be heard as a “pure land dispute", directed the registry to complete all procedural requirements and asked the parties to bring on record all documents, exhibits, translations etc. for final arguments.

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 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.

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