NEW DELHI: Various Hindu religious bodies on Friday informed the Supreme Court that the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute was purely a land dispute and the issue of political or religious sensitivities cannot be a ground to refer the matter to a larger bench.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was told by senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for original plaintiff Gopal Singh Visharad who was among the first to file a civil suit in 1950, that there was no need to refer the matter to a larger bench since a three-judge bench was already seized of the matter.
Salve urged the court to consider it as a case of land dispute, and argued that it was not a matter of Constitutional importance.
“We are beyond 1992-1993. All that remains is a title dispute over property. It should be decided just like a title suit, and not on other grounds,”he contended.He said religious sensitivities and politics should not be brought up before the court.
This move is surprising considering that 14 appeals were filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict which had treated the dispute like a title suit, distributing the disputed land in Ayodhya equally among the three plaintiffs.
Opposing Salve, senior advocate Raju Ramachandaran — appearing for the Muslim bodies — said looking at the sensitivities of the matter and its national importance, the case should be referred to a larger bench.
The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on May 15.
The SC earlier dismissed all 32 intervention petitions, including applications of Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen, and Teesta Setalvad, in the case.
In a 2:1 majority ruling, a three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.