Ayodhya hearing: Supreme Court poses queries to Hindu parties’ counsel

On Tuesday, the senior advocate had told the court that the birthplace of Lord Ram was in itself a deity and Muslims cannot claim right over the 2.77-acre disputed land.

August 14, 2019 12:27 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 10:27 am IST - New Delhi

Babri Masjid in Ayodhya being demolished on December 6, 1992.

Babri Masjid in Ayodhya being demolished on December 6, 1992.

The Hindu parties involved in the Ayodhya title appeals received a barrage of questions from the Constitution Bench, including whether there is any evidence on record to show that the first Mughal emperor, Babur, ordered the building of the Babri Masjid.

While Justice S.A. Bobde asked about when the structure, demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992, began to be called ‘Babri Masjid’, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud reflected on historical texts to point out that Ayodhya and the disputed area seemed to have been a confluence of several religions, including Buddhism, Jainism and even Islam.

Responding to these questions and observations from the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan on Wednesday relied on travelogues and personal accounts of foreign travellers to India to show that the belief among the local people that Ramjanmabhoomi was divine remained unshakeable for centuries all together.

Mr. Vaidyanathan pointed out that travelogues of foreigners like the missionary, Joseph Tiefenthaler, and others like William Finch, Montgomery Martin, etc, about the history of Ram and ruins of a temple in Ayodhya showed that the belief of the people about the holiness of the place remained undisturbed despite various invasions and other influences and happenings. He said these accounts could be accepted as credible as the foreigners were under no compulsion to lie.

At this point, the Bench intervened to point out that Tiefenthaler seemed have two varied accounts of the demolition of a temple in the area – one, that it was destroyed by Babur, and the other, that it was razed by Aurangazeb much later.

But Mr. Vaidyanathan contended that it did not matter who destroyed the temple as long as the missionary’s accounts go to prove the existence of a temple and that it was demolished before 1786. “Who demolished the temple would not matter for us as it proves that the temple existed. What is important about the document is that it identifies the Janm Asthan and that a mosque was put up at the site of the Ram temple,” he submitted.

Mr. Vaidyanathan said the first use of name ‘Babri Masjid’ traced only back to the 19 century. “Nothing before that to show it was called Babri Masjid,” he contended. He said even the memoirs of Emperor Babur was “silent” on his stay in Ayodhya.

But senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan clarified about the version being made that Baburnama is silent about Babur's visit to Ayodhya. “Baburnama says about Babur crossing the river to Ayodhya. Two pages of his stay in Ayodhya are missing. That cannot mean he did not visit Ayodhya,” he said.

But Mr. Vaidyanathan repeated that the intent of his arguments was to only show that there was temple in the area and the people associated certain divinity to the place. “There is archaeological evidence to show there were temple ruins. If the mosque was built on the ruins of the temple, then Shariat law does not recognise it as a mosque,” he submitted.

Arguments will continue on August 16.

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