NEW DELHI: Muslim parties Monday opposed in the Supreme Court the decision to make 'janmbhoomi' (birthplace) of Lord Ram as a party besides the deity and alleged it has been done with the sole motive to ensure that no other person can make a claim over the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land.
It was earlier alleged by the counsel for 'Ram Lalla Virajman' that the birthplace of Lord Ram is also a deity and Muslims cannot claim right over the 2.77-acre disputed land as any division of the property would amount to "destruction" and "mutilation" of the deity itself.
A 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board and others including original litigant M Siddiq, that the birthplace cannot be a juristic entity and moreover, it has been made a party in 1989 to ensure that no law applies to it and other claimants are "knocked off".
"If it was idol only, then this case could have been resolved much more easily. But, if it is Janmbhoomi, then it means all hands should be off the place including that of this court. There can be no legal remedy," he told the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
On the 24th day of the day-to-day hearing in the politically sensitive case, the top court took note of Dhavan's submission on making "corporeal" property also a party.
"This problem would have arisen of they (the next friend of the deity and others) would have filed the (law) suit only in the name of 'janmsthan'. But they have also made the deity as the first plaintiff," the bench said.
Dhavan responded by saying that the place as a party and as a deity has created all the problems.
Neither the Limitation Law, nor the doctrine of adverse possession nor the acquisition of land would apply on the land as it has the status of the deity on account of Hindu belief, he said.
The bench then asked Dhavan about the difference of legal status of an idol with that of the place recognised as an idol.
The senior lawyer said that the idols, through its 'shebait' (devotee), can sue and be sued and all the legal principles would apply.
"As far as Ram Janmbhoomni as a party is concerned, it is linked with two things, one is belief and the second is the recognition of the area as a deity to establish its distinctiveness and the consequence of this would be that the area will become legally impregnable," he said.
If the concept that place is the deity is believed then neither Babur nor Britishers could become the owner of the land.
He also countered with the submissions of the Hindu party that there was no such concept that "once a mosque, always a mosque".
The submission that except the mosques at Mecca and Madina, other such mosques are not integral to Islamic faith was wrong and would violate the fundamental right to practice religions under Article 25 of the Constitution, he said.
There cannot be discrimination between "Indic religions" and other religions which have come from outside, he said, adding that it would be wrong to say that besides Jerusalem and Vatican, no other churches are integral to the faith for Christians.
At the outset, Dhavan referred to the pleadings of the lawsuit of the deity and said it was filed in 1989 in contrast of the fact that Nirmohi Akahara had first moved the court in 1885.
The 'Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas' was set up by the 'Vishwa Hindu Parishad' to create a new temple and All India Hindu Mahasabha was also made a trustee and the deity and others filed the lawsuit to just oust 'Nirmohi Akahara', he said.
No averments have been made by in the lawsuit with regard to misappropriation of the disputed property by others, he said.
The lawsuit of the deity, filed through the next friend Deoki Nand Agrawal, could not file the case till the time Akahara was there as 'Shebait', he said.
The plea that Lord Ram has the unimpeachable authority cannot pass the civil test and the Akahara can be ousted only if it act against the interest of the deity, he said.
The bench asked Dhavan as to when the place as the deity could have made a party.
"They could have done so in 1885 and not in 1989," he said, adding that the idol worship was being carried out since 1885 at 'Ram Chabutara' in the outer courtyard and later it was placed inside the inner courtyard in 1949.
He also opposed the contents of the SLP filed on behalf of the deity in which divinity of the Hindu God Lord Ram has been discussed.
"I have never seen such type of divine invocation in any special leave petition (SLP)," he said.
Dhavan would resume advancing arguments on Tuesday.
The Allahabad High Court, in its judgment of 2010 on four civil lawsuits, had partitioned the 2.77-acre disputed land equally among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict.