26 Sep 2019 1:21 PM GMT
The 32nd day of the Ayodhya land dispute hearing began with CJI Ranjan Gogoi stressing on the paucity of time, and urged the counsels from all sides to ensure they conclude their arguments by October 18. Reiterating that not one day beyond the deadline would be given, the CJI stated that even if the deadline was met, it "will be miraculous if the judgment can be delivered within 4 weeks"...
The 32nd day of the Ayodhya land dispute hearing began with CJI Ranjan Gogoi stressing on the paucity of time, and urged the counsels from all sides to ensure they conclude their arguments by October 18. Reiterating that not one day beyond the deadline would be given, the CJI stated that even if the deadline was met, it "will be miraculous if the judgment can be delivered within 4 weeks" given that he is to retire on November 17.
Senior advocate Dr Rajeev Dhavan then resumed arguments for the Sunni Waqf board, from where Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora had left off yesterday- objections to the ASI report. Saying that it was not a question of authenticity of the report, it was submitted that while according to Rule 10(1) Order 26 of the CPC the report of commissioner shall be treated as evidence and be put on record, Rule 10(2) states that with court's permission, any party can examine the commissioner. However, the question of law that needs to be decided is whether Rule 10(2) must be followed to raise objections against the commissioner's report at appeal stage even if they were raised during trial. Dhavan submitted that the court could examine the contradictions in the report, check whether or not objections were filed, and accordingly move forward. After he established that their right to reply had not been forfeited due to Rule 10 (2), Meenakshi Arora took over, to argue that based on the findings of the ASI report, if one inference was possible, then the other inference was equally possible.
Taking the bench through the contents of the report, Arora submitted that the ASI admitted to having problems of identifying the layers stratigraphically. The report had determined 4 periods while a majority of the periods mentioned had nothing to do with period of the temple, she added. As per the findings, she submitted, a huge wall along with pillar bases apparently rested a massive structure in the medieval and early medieval period. However that structure was built in 12th century AD, which is not from Gupta period. Arora added that the report referred to the Ram Chabutra as a shrine, but referred to the mosque as a disputed structure. "I had raised objections to this", she said.
Upon being questioned by Justice Ashok Bhushan about not pleading that there was an Islamic structure under which mosque was built, Arora stated that she never had occasion to do so and went on to assert that there could have been an Eidgah below it. Again Justice Bhushan sought clarification saying initially the submission was that a mosque was built on open land, but now the allusion is to an Islamic structure being under it.
Arora reiterated that she was dealing only with the findings of the ASI report to show an inference was possible on either side. The findings in the report of walls and pillars continued to dominate the course of proceedings from here on.
To prove her case, Meenakshi Arora first stated that while their case initially was that the mosque was built on an open space, the wall was found later and it had could have been part of an Eidgah mosque since it faced west, like any other Eidgah, so the inference that the wall was part of a temple cannot be conclusive. Moving on to findings that the base pillars were at different levels, it was argued that the ASI's inference of there having existed one massive structure could be wrong. Arora asserted that the report undisputedly showed that pillar bases were at different levels and for one massive structure to be supported by the pillars, their bases needed to be aligned and at a proper distance. With this, the senior counsel asserted that the different pillar bases were found in four different levels, pointing to construction taking place there during four different periods. So the multiple layers suggest the existence of separate constructions over different periods of time, and not a single, multi-storeyed structure, submitted Arora.
Upon examining the difference in pillar bases, the Bench found the difference to be of around 2 metres. Questioning this argument, Justice Bhushan said modern engineering standards could not be imposed on constructions from 1000 years ago. Meenakshi Arora's response was that the report conjectured the preconceived notion that there was a 85-pillar hall, on which Babri masjid was built. So when 85 pillar bases are found, there's no reason for a big difference in size and distance; the difference was almost 3-4 times the size. Arora however conceded that there was a great deal of conjecture and inferences being drawn, to which Justice Bobde said "that is why we are looking for expert opinion".
This brought Arora back to her initial argument that the report is not an exact science, only a social science based on presumptions and could only be considered an opinion.
In her next submission, Meenakshi Arora stated that lime surkhi was found in the materials excavated and that this is something that is used exclusively in Islamic structures. Using this as proof of existence of an Eidgah mosque, it was submitted that it was impossible to find lime surkhi being used to construct temples well before the Mughal era. Justice Bobde however questioned the reference to exclusive use of lime surkhi and asked whether other religions were barred from using it and how this material could be the basis of denying the existence of a temple. The CJI also asked if there was any evidence to show the same. Further, Justice Nazeer raised doubts regarding the inference of the existence of an Eidgah mosque saying the centre of such a mosque is wide. Arora said that excavation of the central area, where idols were kept, was not permitted.
The ASI assumed a circular shrine to be a Shiva Linga, but I do not accept it, argued Arora. Justice Bobde then said that reconstruction was not possible from ruins, to which Arora said it was ASI that claimed it to be a shrine for Shiva. "ASI cannot always be considered an authority", retorted J Bobde. "If that's so, I rest my case", replied Arora.
Upon Meenakshi Arora's objection to the use of the word 'divine' by ASI, the bench maintained that such objections should have been made at an earlier stage.
The day's proceedings ended with Meenakshi Arora's arguments about how certain symbols could not have been claimed to be only Hindu, since they can be found in other religions as well.