The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court

SC to consider in-chamber review petitions filed against the Ayodhya verdict

  • The review petitions have been filed by Nirmohi Akhara, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and a number of Muslim parties supported by AIMPLB
  • The five-judge bench that delivered the landmark judgment had ordered for the allotment of 5-acre land to Muslims for construction of a mosque within Ayodhya

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court website on Wednesday evening notified that the five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde shall conduct in chamber proceedings for the 18 listed review petitions against the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Ram-Janamabhoombh- Babri-Masjid land title dispute in chambers’ on Thursday at 1:40pm.

The former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, now retired, who was a part of the constitution bench which had pronounced the verdict has been replaced with Justice Sanjiv Khanna. The other members of the bench include D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.

The review petitions have been filed by Nirmohi Akhara, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) and number of Muslim parties supported by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) among others who have sought a review of the 9 November verdict of the Supreme Court which unanimously ordered setting up of a trust by the government, within three months, that would eventually pave the way for construction of a temple in Ayodhya at the disputed site.

The five-judge bench that delivered the landmark judgment had ordered for the allotment of 5-acre land to Muslims for construction of a mosque within Ayodhya. Nirmohi Akhara, one of the three litigants in the case, could be given representation in the trust if accepted by the Centre, the bench observed in its judgment.

On 11 December, Nirmohi Akhara, a religious denomination, filed a review petition, seeking clarification on 'nature of role' and 'quantum of representation' in the trust to be formulated by Central government which shall look into the construction of the temple at the disputed site.

On 9 December, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) filed a review petition challenging the verdict with respect to the allotment of five acres to Muslim parties for building a mosque. The ABHM argued in their petition that Muslim parties did not have any right or title over the disputed structure, as was mentioned in the verdict; besides a mosque cannot be constructed on government land. “The construction of mosque on land owned by the government will also be against the principles of secularism and part-III of the Constitution of India," it added.

On the same date another petition was filed by a group of 40 petitioners alleging that the verdict violated the secular principles embedded in the Indian Constitution. The 40 petitioners contended that though neither party had proved exclusive ownership of the land, the Hindu worshipers were given the land. They alleged that by this verdict, “the faith of one of the communities was consequently regarded higher than the other" and, therefore, was in violation of the secular principles of the Constitution.

On 6 December, four separate review petitions had been filed challenging the correctness of the verdict, by Maulana Mufti Hasbullah, Mohd Umar, Maulana Mahfoozur Rehman and Mishbahuddin, who are supported by the AIMPLB. The petitioners have challenged the title of the land being given to Hindu parties, arguing that Hindus never had exclusive possession of the entire site. They added that the apex court’s judgement has, in fact, given directions to clear the existing structure that remains after the Babri Masjid was demolished at the site in December 1992. “The de jure, indeed de facto, effect of the direction in the judgement is to destroy the mosque if it still existed," the petitioners argued.

On 2 December, the first review petition in the case was filed by Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, the legal heir of the original litigant, M, Siddiq, and the Uttar Pradesh president of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, saying that “complete justice" could only be done by directing reconstruction of the Babri Masjid.

The review petition is generally circulated among all the judges which were a part of the bench that had passed the judgment. The judges then decide ‘in-chambers’ that whether there is any merit in the review petition to re-hear the case in open court.

On 6 December 1992, Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque, was demolished by Hindu groups who wanted a Ram temple to be built at the site.

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