Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court on Wednesday wondered if Hindus thronged Ram Chabutra , which 'coincidentally' came up after 1855 along with the railing barricading the Babri Masjid, to actually set their eyes on and pray to the space under the central dome of the mosque, believed to be where Lord Ram was born.
The observation from the judge is significant as the Allahabad High Court, in its 2010 judgment, took a “leap of faith” and deduced the space under the central dome of the masjid, demolished by kar sevaks in 1992, to be the exact birthplace of Lord Ram.
Justice Chandrachud, one of the five judges on the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, began his remarks by observing that it was “coincidental” that Ram Chabutra came up along with the construction of the railing by the British following an armed clash between Hindus and Muslims in 1855.Prior to that year, both Hindus and Muslims entered it for prayers.
After the violence, Muslims entered the mosque and Hindus prayed at the Chabutra , a platform erected merely 50 yards away from the mosque’s central dome.
“After 1855, Ram Chabutra was erected just outside the railing. It in fact came up along with the railing. So it must be that worshippers believed that praying at the ‘chabutra’ meant actually praying at the central dome... They actually went to pray at the central dome,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
Justice Ashok Bhushan intervened to say, “They went to the railing because they believed that birth happened there [under the central dome]”.
Justice Chandrachud observed, “"Why do you need to pray at the railing? You go to the railing to look beyond the railing.”
‘Preponderance of probabilities
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the Sunni Wakf Board, dismissed the judge's reasoning as mere “conjecture”. Justice Chandrachud shot back, saying it was a “preponderance of probabilities”, which the court could indulge in.
“Why did the chabutra become the focal point after 1855? Prior to 1855, both Hindus and Muslims went in... All this upsurge happens after the railing comes up. Why? It may be because of a sense of exclusion among the Hindus. This not just conjecture, but preponderance of probabilities,” Justice Chandrachud addressed Mr. Dhavan.
Mr. Dhavan said the 1850s was a time of inter-se conflict and conquest. “The context of the time was that of a riot situation. British may have come and said 'enough of this nonsense'. But the context then was that of a riot situation. Not just riot, but internecine conflict,” he submitted.
He said Justice Chandrachud was “adding something” not in the case records. “Where is it said from the records that they [Hindu worshippers] prayed to the inner dome from the chabutra ? This is conjecture within the meaning of unreasonable probability... I go till the railing outside the lion's den knowing it is dangerous beyond that,” he argued.