Sheer belief that Lord Ram was born exactly under the central dome of Babri Masjid, demolished in 1992 by kar sevaks, does not give the Hindus the title or ownership of the disputed land, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan submitted before the Ayodhya Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday.
“Neither belief nor travelogues nor Skand Purana can give you [Hindu parties] title to the land,” Mr. Dhavan submitted.
Mr. Dhavan’s arguments came on the 38th day of the marathon hearings by the five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Chief Justice Gogoi indicated that the Ayodhya hearings may finally draw to a close on Wednesday (October 16), a couple of days ahead of the deadline of October 18.
In his day-long submissions, Mr. Dhavan said what was definite was the Hindus were given (prescriptive rights) to enter the mosque premises and pray. “However, they trespassed into the land and surreptitiously installed the idols on December 22-23, 1949,” he submitted.
The senior lawyer said there was no evidence of any title they held over the land.
Hindus were allowed to enter the land and pray at the Ram Chhabutra after 1857.
“What did the Hindus actually pray to from 1857 to 1989? An idol. The rest was a belief with no evidence – Hindus are not able to prove Lord Ram was born under the inner dome. There is no physical manifestation of their belief that this is the exact place where Lord Ram was born… Till 1989, they had accepted that they had only a right to pray there. There was no question of title,” Mr. Dhavan argued.
He said the maintenance grant given to the wakf from the period of Babur through the British occupation was proof of the Muslims’ title over the land. The right to entry was given by the British as a means to maintain public order in the area.
“Right to entry to the Hindus to pray in the Babri premises does not translate to defeasance of the Muslims’ title… Why knock down one of the domes of the Babri mosque in the 1934 riots and trespass to install the idols of Lord Ram in 1949 if they already had the title… Why did they have to do all this?” he said.
Mr. Dhavan countered the Hindu parties’ version that the mosque was abandoned with no prayers offered. “Prayers do not determine title, abandonment does. Look at the Mexican pyramids. Forests surround them with not a single guard… If I go away on a holiday, does it mean I have abandoned my practice,” he asked.
‘Do not open a Pandora’s box’
Concluding the day’s arguments, Mr. Dhavan urged the judges not to open a Pandora’s box by attempting to rewrite history. He said India was more complicated than Europe with more wars and conquests. “How can Muslim rulers be termed illegitimate for building a mosque? Why are we rewriting history whenever new government comes to power,” he asked.
Mr. Dhavan, who argued the whole day, said “we are treating India like a monolithic entity. Practices in North India are fundamentally different from other parts, essentially different from the South. Yet we try to assume a commonality…”.
He said the Islamic law had evolved over a period of 15 centuries.
“A brilliant civilisation! At best our knowledge of Islamic law is confined to personal law… We cannot selectively dip into the Quran or Hadith or Vedas and say this is right, this not or Mr. Babur was not a true Muslim,” he said.
Mr. Dhavan reminded the Bench that history books in future would be written on the basis of the judgment in the Ayodhya case. He urged the judges to tread with care like how they did with the Uniform Civil Code.