New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked a Hindu body as to whether it has got any revenue records and oral evidence to establish its possession over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site in Ayodhya.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked senior advocate Sushil Jain, representing Nirmohi Akhara, that since it was now dealing with the issue of possession, the Hindu body will have to “establish” its case. “Now, we are dealing with possession. You have to establish the possession. If you have any revenue record in your favour then it is a very good piece of evidence in your favour,” said the bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.
The Akhara has been seeking management and proprietary rights over the disputed site on various grounds including that it was under its possession since time immemorial and it has the status of ‘shebaitship’ of the deity. “Apart from the revenue records, what are the evidence to show and how did you exercise the right of ‘shebaitship’,” the bench asked Jain and added, “You have to establish your case.”
Jain tried to establish the fact that Hindu body’s lawsuit seeking re-possession of the site was not barred by the law of limitation.”The suit is covered by Article 47 of Limitation Act 1908. The property was under attachment of Magistrate under section 145 CrPC. The limitation period starts running only after the final order of the Magistrate. Since no final order was passed by the Magistrate, the cause of action was continuing and hence, no question of a lawsuit being barred by limitation arose,” Jain said. He said that suit sought restoration of “shebait” rights for management of temple (‘Shebait’ is the custodian of the temple) and ‘Shebait’ rights include management and proprietary rights.
“When dispossession happened in 1950, Shebait rights got affected,” Jain said, adding that prayer for the restoration of ‘shebait rights’ will be covered under-recovery of possession. “The limitation period for recovery of possession is 12 years. The dispossession happened in 1950. The suit was filed in 1959 so it is within limitation,” he told the bench which was hearing the arguments in the Ayodhya case for the second day.
The argument would continue in the post-lunch session. The Nirmohi Akhara had on Tuesday strongly pitched in the Supreme Court for control and management of the entire disputed 2.77-acre land, saying Muslims had not been allowed to enter the place since 1934.
The Hindu body had said it was claiming ownership and possession of the “main temple” as also to be the manager of the birthplace of Lord Rama. The top court was told by the Hindu body that since time immemorial “Janma Asthan now commonly known as Janam Bhumi, the birthplace of Lord Ram Chandra was belonging to and in possession of the Akhara”.
Referring to the records, Jain had said, “No Mohammedan could or ever did enter the temple building. It was specifically stated that no Mohammedan has even attempted to enter it at least since 1934” and hence the claim of Akharara over the land was legal and should be honoured.
The court is hearing 14 appeals filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.