NEW DELHI : Day-to-day hearings in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case began in the Supreme Court on Tuesday with the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination, claiming Muslims had not prayed at the disputed site in Ayodhya since 1934.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising justices S.A. Bopde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer, started hearing the matter. Nirmohi Akhara’s appeal was taken up as the first case out of the batch of appeals.

Senior advocate Sushil K. Jain appearing on behalf of the Nirmohi Akhara told the court that his suit is for the possession of the inner courtyard, which is with the court-appointed receiver, while the outer courtyard is with the Akhara. “We were in possession of the inner courtyard and Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years. Outer courtyard having ‘Sita Rasoi’, ‘Chabutra’, ‘Bhandar Grah’ were in our possession and it was never a part of dispute in any case," he said.

“My suit is basically for belongings, possession and management rights."

Jain submitted that along with the courtyard the area of “Ram Janmasthana" located within the disputed land, always belonged to the Akhara.

Jain submitted that since 1934 only Hindus have been allowed to offer prayers at the property. Muslims had stopped offering prayers from 1934 and had completely stopped visiting the abandoned structure from 1949.

“If no namaaz has been offered at this structure since 1934, then the place cannot be considered as a mosque," argued Jain.

“Before 1934, Muslims were offering regular prayers, high court had noted in the verdict," the bench observed referring to an Allahabad high court judgement. “There is no evidence to show that there was any temple or idols in the temple". PTI said Nirmohi Akhara told the SC that its possession was “exclusive" as after the 1934 riots till 1949, Muslims were allowed to offer Friday prayers only, that too under police protection.