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[Ayodhya Hearing][Day-1] Nirmohi Akhara Claims Possession Of Disputed Property [Courtroom Exchange]

MEHAL JAIN
6 Aug 2019 3:15 PM GMT
[Ayodhya Hearing][Day-1] Nirmohi Akhara Claims Possession Of Disputed Property [Courtroom Exchange]
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On Day 1 of the hearing in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar Jain opened the case for the Nirmohi Akhara, the plaintiff in Suit no. 3. "There are two parts of the premises- the inner courtyard and the outer courtyard. On January 5, 1950, charge was taken from me and handed to the receiver. The birthplace of Lord Ram was in my possession and I was also...

On Day 1 of the hearing in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar Jain opened the case for the Nirmohi Akhara, the plaintiff in Suit no. 3.

"There are two parts of the premises- the inner courtyard and the outer courtyard. On January 5, 1950, charge was taken from me and handed to the receiver. The birthplace of Lord Ram was in my possession and I was also its manager. My suit is for management rights and possession. The Original Suit of 1989 was filed by the Akhara in 1959", he began.

"You sued for the possession of the inner courtyard?", asked Justice S. A. Bobde.

"Yes. It comprises of the 'bhandargrah', a small 'chabutra' and a dome.There was no challenge to the outer courtyard till the filing of the suit by the Sunni Waqf Board in 1961... Suit no. 1 of 1989 by Gopal Singh Visharad was also confined to the inner courtyard. The outer courtyard was always in possession of the Nirmohi Akhara and was not even attached by the order of 1961... ", replied Mr. Jain.

"Who are you?", inquired Justice Bobde.

"I am the Nirmohi Akhara, a registered body under the Societies Registration Act, 1949. My registration is from before the dispute arose", responded Mr. Jain.

"What is the evidence in support of your prayer?", asked Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Indicating the averments in the plaint, Mr. Jain advanced that the temple and the Ram Janmabhoomi has always "belonged" to the Akhara- not "owned" by them- as they are only managers of the property.

He narrated that there exists in Ayodhya, since the days of Yore, an ancient Math of Ramanandi Varagis called the Nirmohi Akhara which is the religious establishment of a public character. The temple has ever since been in their possession and none others but Hindus have been allowed to enter or worship there. The offerings made in the form of money, sweets, flowers, fruits and other articles have always been received by the Akhara through its pujaries. 

The property in several temples also vests solely in the Akhara which has the exclusive right to manage them through its Panches and Mahants. The Mahant, being a formal head of the institution, is to act on the majority opinion of the Panches.

Mr. Jain went on to read that no Mohammadan has ever been allowed to enter into the temple building or has ever attempted to enter into it at least since the year 1934.

It was further averred in the plaint that in the year 1950, the City Magistrate, Faizabad had without lawful cause attached the main temple in a proceeding under Section 145 Cr.P.C., and placed the said temple and the articles under the charge of a receiver.

That the plaintiffs have been wrongfully deprived of their management and charge of the said temple and hence, the institution of Suit no. 3 was inevitable.

"My prayer is for the removal of the receiver, not just for possession", submitted Mr. Jain.

"Your suit is for mandatory injunction, not declaration", observed Justice Chandrachud.

"Possession and management rights is my case. Declaration is automatic in these cases", replied the Senior Counsel.

"How has your claim been resisted?", probed the Chief Justice.

"The Defendants have stated that the property in suit has been constructed by Emperor Babar in 1528 and is called Babri Masjid. This property was given in Waqf for the common Muslim and since then every Muslim has the right of prayer in the mosque...It has further been stated that in 1885, Raghubar Das Mahant, Janam Sthan, Ayodhya filed a suit against the Secretary of State for India in the Council and Mohd. Asgar Mutwalli and Khatib Masjid Babri Majakur filed a suit in the court of Sub-Judge, Faizabad. A site plan was also appended with the plaint in which the mosque was clearly shown and no objection was made in this regard. The plaintiff of this suit had sought relief only with regard to a platform (chabutra), and therefore, the averment in the present suit that all the disputed property belongs to the temple Ram Janam Bhumi is completely false. The Sub- Judge, Faizabad on 24.12.85 dismissed the plaintiff's suit. This verdict was upheld by the appellate court and the remark relating to the title of the plaintiffs to the Chabutra was struck off. So many Mahants of Ayodhya on behalf of the Hindus had filed the suit and they had full knowledge of this litigation as per the provisions of the Muslim Waqf Act. The Chief Commissioner of the Waqf was appointed who after inspection of mosque Babri decided that Emperor Babar had constructed this mosque and acknowledged this property as Sunni Waqf. Accordingly, a legal notification was issued which has become final and the possession of the Muslim community as Waqf on the Babri Mosque has been continuously in existence. Therefore, even if the plaintiffs or any other Hindu succeeds in proving that prior to the construction of the Babri mosque there existed any temple on the site in dispute, in that situation also on the ground of being in possession for more than 400 years all the rights of plaintiffs have extinguished. Plaintiffs were never in possession over property in suit. Being time barred this suit is liable to be dismissed...The defendants have no knowledge as to whether any idol has been installed in the property in suit or not as till 16.12.49 Namaz has continuously been offered in the property in suit and there was no idol by that time. If any idol has been installed surreptitiously even then the nature of mosque will not alter and if any person wants to visit the disputed place for offering prayer and enters into it for this purpose, it will be an offence...There is another temple at Ayodhya which is known as temple Janam Sthan Ram Chandra Ji and is in existence for a very long time where the idols of Ram Chandra Ji and other Gods are installed. There lies a graveyard towards east-southern and south of the mosque where graves of Muslims are present. There is no place known as the Shankar Chabutra, Sita Kop, Lomas Chaura, Hanumat Dwar and Barah Bhagwan or Samadhi of Markandey as shown in the plaint map. The plaintiffs have not shown since when and how they became the owner of the property in suit... Two suits are already pending which have been filed by Gopal Singh Visharad and Param Hans Ram Chandra Das. Sincethe property in suit has been attached under Section 146 Cr.P.C., no regular suit could be filed by the plaintiff in this regard", in response, Mr. Jain elaborated on the defence of the Muslim side.

He also drew the bench's attention to the written statement by the Hindu party-

"That the Janam Sthan is a holy place of worship and belongs to the deity of Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajman there. It never belonged to and could not have belonged to the plaintiff no.1. The holy JANAM STHAN OR JANAM BHUMI is actually a very old temple, whereas the plaintiff AKHARA on the other hand is an institution and owes its existence for no longer than two hundred years. The main presiding deity is BHAGWAN SHRI RAM, although there are several idols of other deities, termed as RAM DARBAR and are worshiped. Besides, there are other symbols, such as, 'CHARAN', SITA RASOI,' etc..."

"So they have no claim of their own but are only refuting your claim", noted the Chief Justice.

"They say the title is in the deity. We agree. That is why we only filed the suit as 'Sarbarahkar'", added Mr. Jain.

"Your replication speaks of setting up title also though the suit is only for possession and charge. You want ownership also?", asked Justice D. Y. Chandrachud.

"There cannot be any ownership or title to any of the parties", asserted Mr. Jain.
"The preliminary decree gave you 1/3rd (of the disputed property)", commented the Chief Justice.

"We are only claiming rights as a worshiper. We are not stopping anyone else from worshiping. Our ancestors have given their life to this. There is an emotional reason for why we are fighting...", said Mr. Jain.

Next, the Senior Advocate discussed how the issues framed as to whether the property in suit belongs to them and if they are entitled to get the management and charge of the said temple was dealt by the Allahabad High Court in its impugned verdict of 2010.

The Chief Justice remarked that the High Court's finding that till 1934, Muslims were offering regular prayers and since 1934 till December 22, 1949, only Friday prayers were offered in the premises in dispute, and that offering of only Friday prayers is also sufficient for continuance of possession and use be kept in mind.

As to the trial court's disposal of the issue whether the site of the premises in dispute was treated to be the birth-place of Lord Ram before construction of the mosque and whether there was any temple standing thereupon, which was demolished for constructing the mosque, the Chief Justice commented,

"They say there is no conclusive finding and then make an informed guess" that "a very large area was considered to be the birth-place of Lord Ram by general Hindus in the sense that they treated that somewhere in that large area Lord Ram was born. However, they were unable to identify and ascertain the exact place of birth, and that in that large area there were ruins of several temples and at a random small spot in that large area Babar got constructed the mosque in question".

This was followed by a detailed discussion on whether the suits are barred by limitation.

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