In a hearing on the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute in the Supreme Court, the counsel for the Muslim petitioners to the suit on Tuesday took objection to the statements by certain Hindutva leaders that a temple will be constructed in Ayodhya even while the top court was seized of the matter.
Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for lead petitioner M. Siddiqui represented by his legal heirs, told an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that "while the case is being argued, people should not make statements and in a way to bring pressure on the court. They should exercise restraint".
Dhavan said "we have (exercised) complete restraint" so as not to muddy the waters. The senior counsel said that his client even contemplated a contempt petition against such persons at one point in time but chose to exercise restraint.
The court in the past ordered restraint on parties from making public statements so long as it was seized of the matter.
Addressing the bench on the flaws in the 1994 five-Judge Constitution Bench judgment in the Ismail Faruqui case wherein it said that a mosque was not an integral part of religious practice of offering prayers, Dhavan said that this verdict completely denuded the concept of religious practices under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Article 25 guarantees right to freedom of religion, also provides for freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, he contended.
In an earlier hearing, the counsel told the court that a larger bench of either five or seven Judges has to revisit the issue and decide "what is the meaning of mosque to the Muslims" and is it taken as a "gospel truth that a mosque is not essential to Muslims and Islam".
He said that as per the 1994 judgment, there is no constitutional protection for the Muslims' right to offer prayers whereas the Hindus' right to offer worship stands at a superior position.
Senior counsel K. Parasaran, appearing for deity Ram Lalla Virajman, contested Dhavan's contentions.
He said that the parties to the proceedings are bound by the judgment and they can't say that "I am party to the proceedings but I question the correctness of a judgment".
Since Parasaran commenced his arguments at the fag end of the day, he will continue with the same on Thursday.
The court was hearing a batch of cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that divided the disputed 2.77 acres site at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh between the Nirmohi Akhara, Lord Rama deity and the Sunni Waqf Board.
Dhavan told the court that the challenge to the High Court verdict in the title suit to the disputed site can be heard only by a larger bench. This is because the 2010 High Court verdict had relied on the 1994 judgment of the top court which said that a mosque was not essential to religious practice of offering prayers.
The top court was moved by the legal heirs of Siddiqui, the Nirmohi Akhara, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman, All India Hindu Mahasabha's Swami Chakrapani, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, the Akhil Bharatiya Sri Ramjanam Bhoomi Punardhar Samiti and others.
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