NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected all interim pleas seeking to intervene as parties in the Babri Masjid-Ram temple land dispute case. As many as 32 individuals and groups have challenged a lower court’s judgment that divided the disputed 2.77 acre property between Muslim and Hindu groups.
A three-judge bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra rejected the pleas by religious groups and individuals like Shyam Benegal, Teesta Setalvad, saying only the parties to the original lawsuits would be allowed to put forth arguments.
The bench said it would first decide whether the land dispute appeals be sent to a five-judge Constitution bench as sought by lead petitioner M Siddiq.
Besides Benegal and Setalvad, eminent persons like Aparna Sen and Anil Dharker wanted to use the disputed land for some ‘secular’ purposes. The intervention plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, at whose instance the cases were fast-tracked by the apex court, was also rejected.
The bench, however, considered Swamy’s submission that he had not sought to intervene in the matter but filed a separate writ petition seeking enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya.
The BJP leader had contended that he has a fundamental right to worship and this is a superior right than a property right.
The bench asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for M Siddiq, to argue and persuade it as to why these matters be sent to a larger bench.
Referring to the apex court judgement delivered in 1994 on a plea filed by M Ismail Faruqui, Dhavan said the verdict had made an unwarranted comment that mosques are not integral to prayer offered by followers of Islam.
“A mosque remains a mosque and the land where the structure was there belongs to the ‘Allah’ even after the demolition,” he said. The apex court has now slated the hearing for March 23.