Babri Masjid: Supreme Court bench refers the matter for 8th Feb

On Tuesday(5th December) a three-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Ashok Bhushan heard the appeals filed in the Babri Masjid matter. A total of 13 appeals were filed against the decision of the Allahabad High Court judgement passed on 30.09.2010 which divided the land previously occupied by the Babri Masjid into three parts, one part to the Hindus, one part to Nirmohi Akhara  and the last part to the Suni Waqf Board. The hearing began at 2 p.m.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the appellants Suni Waqf Board, began the submissions by stating that the exhibits were incomplete and the hearing could not progress with incomplete pleadings. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta refuted these submissions, stating that the same were complete, to which Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal responded that they were not furnished with all copies of the documents. He stated that the vast nature of the exhibits which made a 19,000 page document required more time to prepare before final hearings.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal also argued that there was no reason for the matter to come up right now. He recommended that the matter be listen for after July 2019, after the next Lok Sabha elections. He questioned why the contempt proceeding filed in this case was not taken up. The Court had ordered status quo to be maintained at the time the Babri Masjid was demolished. Hence the contempt proceeding.  

Senior Advocate Rajiv Dhawan referred to the five-judge bench Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui & ors. v. Union of India where it was held that the mosque was not an essential part of Islam, yet it was not more nor less than places of worship of other religions. He therefore submitted that this court was bound by this ratio, same having been rendered by a larger constitutional bench. It was therefore recommended that a 7-judge bench hear the matter.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for defendants, submitted before that hearing should begin and in the course of such a hearing if the mater of the significance of mosques are brought up, it could be referred to a larger bench.

Senior Advocate Rajiv Dhawan submitted before the bench that it was not a regular title suit, but an issue that had a historical context which showed social and political ramifications linked to the Babri Masjid. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal stated, “I beseech your lords to consider hearing the matter now. This is not an ordinary suit, but a matter which has far-reaching implications in our society.”

On August 11th, the court had 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.

The bench finally referred the matter for February 5th. 

Read the order here.