‘Should Babri case go to Statute Bench?’

April 28, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 05:06 am IST - NEW DELHI

In a two-hour hearing in the Supreme Court, rival parties spar over how to settle the dispute

A file photo of Muslims observing Babri Masjid demolition anniversary with black flags at a mosque in Ayodhya.PTIPTI

A file photo of Muslims observing Babri Masjid demolition anniversary with black flags at a mosque in Ayodhya.PTIPTI

Rival parties sparred in the Supreme Court on Friday over shifting the volatile Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title appeals to a five-judge Constitution Bench.

In a two-hour hearing before a three-judge Special Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said the Ramjanmabhoomi dispute is sui generis (unique). Two major religious communities of the country were involved, and the outcome of the case would affect the social fabric of the country, if not the life of the nation. He was appearing for M. Siddiq.

Senior advocate Harish Salve immediately countered Mr. Ramachandran, saying the country had moved away from the 1992 events.

The Babri Masjid was demolished by Kar Sevaks on December 6, 1992.

‘Property dispute’

“Today, we are only left with a property dispute,” Mr. Salve submitted, who is for Gopal Singh Visharad, a party in one of the original suits in the case.

Mr. Salve said “political and religious sensibilities should be left outside the gates of the Supreme Court”.

Mr. Ramachandran argued that the dispute started in the middle of the 19th century concerning the mosque that had stood at the place. Appeals from both sides of the dispute against the Allahabad High Court judgment dividing the property into three portions showed neither side was happy.

Mr. Ramachandran said the Supreme Court, as the last court in the country, should bring “judicial quietus” to the dispute by having five judges solemnly decide the questions of fact.

Illustrating the importance of the dispute and how it has been part of the national discourse, he submitted that both the government and a major political party had separately published White Papers explaining their respective stands.

Mr. Salve, in turn, argued that only questions of constitutional sensitivity or matters where there was a difference of opinion between two past judgments were sent to the Constitution Bench for a final word. Former Attorney-General K. Parasaran said cases in which evidence had to be appreciated were not sent to the Constitution Bench.

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