The Supreme Court began the final hearing in the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute on Tuesday afternoon, a day before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of medieval-era structure.
A specially constituted bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer is hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits.
The high court had then ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre area at Ayodhya among the parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Lord Ram Lalla.
A sect of Muslims, under the banner of Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh, had earlier approached the court offering a solution that a mosque could be built in a Muslim- dominated area at a “reasonable distance” from the disputed site in Ayodhya.
However, its intervention was opposed by the All India Sunni Waqf Board which had claimed that judicial adjudication between the two sects had already been done in 1946 by declaring the mosque, which was demolished on December 6, 1992, as one which belongs to the Sunnis.
Recently a group of civil rights activists also moved the apex court seeking intervention in the Ayodhya dispute and urged it to consider the issue saying it is not just a dispute over property but has several other aspects which would have far-reaching effects on the “secular fabric of the country”.
In pursuance to the apex court’s earlier direction, the Yogi Adityanath government has submitted English translation of exhibits and documents likely to be relied upon, as these were in eight different languages.
A battery of high profile lawyers including senior advocates K Parasaran and C S Vaidyanathan and advocate Saurabh Shamsheri will appear for Lord Ram Lalla, the deity, and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent the Uttar Pradesh government.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Anoop George Chaudhari, Rajeev Dhavan and Sushil Jain will represent other parties including All India Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.
The top court had on August 11 asked the UP government to complete within 10 weeks the translation of the evidence recorded for adjudication of the title dispute in the high court. It had said it would not allow the matter to take any shape other than the civil appeals and would adopt the same procedure as was done by the high court.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, an intervenor in the matter, had attempted to raise the issue of fundamental right of religion of the Hindus under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Many of the original plantiffs and defendants in the matter including Mohd Hashim, who was the first person to take the matter to the apex court, have died.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Hourt, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.