The Supreme Court Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya title dispute case today (Wednesday, Aug 7) asked Hindu body Nirmohi Akhara whether it has got any revenue records and oral evidence to establish its possession over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site in Ayodhya.
This was the second day since the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, with Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer also on the Bench, started daily hearings in the politically sensitive case after a three-member mediation panel headed by Justice (Retd.) FMI Kalifulla failed to resolve the matter.
Yesterday, the first day since the day-to-day hearing began, Nirmohi Akhara had claimed it had always been in possession of the disputed structure and no Muslims were allowed to enter the structure since 1934. Senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for Nirmohi Akhara said that the inner courtyard was always in possession of the Nirmohi Akhara and Sita Rasoi, Chabutra and Bhandar which were part of the outer courtyard were never a part of dispute.
Continuing the hearing today, the Bench asked Sushil Jain that since it was now dealing with the issue of possession, the Hindu body will have to “establish” its case.
“Do you have oral or documentary proof, revenue records of the possession of Ramjanmabhoomi before attachment,” the top court asked the Akhara counsel during the hearing.
“A dacoity happened in 1982 and we lost records,” the Akhara replied, reported ANI.
At this, the court told them that they were underprepared for the hearing and moved on to hear the next petitioner’s case.
“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.”
Staring his arguments, Jain had tried to establish the fact that Nirmohi Akhara’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 Cr PC. The limitation period starts running only after 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 law suit 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,” he said, adding that prayer for 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. Suit was filed in 1959 so it is within limitation,” he told the bench.
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 Ram Lalla, the Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board.