A Muslim body on Monday (December 2) sought a review of the Supreme Court verdict that allowed the construction of a Ram temple on a disputed land in Ayodhya, besides seeking an interim stay on the process of a forming a trust for the construction of the temple.
A five-judge bench of the apex court, led by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had in an unanimous verdict on November 9 decreed the entire 2.77 acre disputed land in favour of deity ‘Ram Lalla’ and directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque in Ayodhya.
While key litigant, Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board, decided against challenging the verdict, Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, legal heir of original litigant M Siddiq and UP president of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, sought review of the verdict on 14 counts.
The litigant, in review plea filed through lawyer Ejaz Maqbool, has also sought an interim stay on operation of the verdict in which it had directed the Centre that a trust be formed within three months for construction of the temple at the site.
Hours after the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind filed the review petition, its chief Maulana Arshad Madani on Monday said the step was taken as the ruling was not based on “evidence and logic”. If SC upholds its Ayodhya decision, the Jamiat will abide by it, he told reporters.
“We have filed a review petition in court. The main contention in the case was that the mosque was built by destructing a temple. The court said that there was no evidence that the mosque was built after destructing a temple, the title of Muslims, therefore, was proven, but the final verdict was the opposite. So we filed a review as the verdict is beyond understanding,” Madani said.
In the plea, Rashidi questioned the direction asking the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to allot five acre land for construction of a mosque at a prominent place in Ayodhya, saying that such a prayer was never made by the Muslim parties.
It was also submitted that despite acknowledging several illegalities committed by the Hindu parties, including the destruction of the mosque at the disputed site, the apex court condoned them and granted the land to them. “By virtue of the impugned judgment, this court has effectively granted a mandamus to destroy Babri Masjid and to construct a temple of Lord Ram in the said place,” the plea said.
It further stated that though in the impugned judgment this court has acknowledged few of the several illegalities committed by the Hindu Parties, particularly in 1934 (damaging the domes of the Babri Masjid), 1949 (desecrating the Babri Masjid) and 1992 (demolition of the Babri Masjid), it has “proceeded to condone those very illegal acts and has awarded the disputed site to the very party which based its claims on nothing but a series of illegal acts”.
However, Rashidi submitted he was not seeking review of the entire judgement and several findings, and was limiting the plea to apparent errors on the face of records such as the title in favour of Hindus “virtually amounts to a mandamus to destroy the Babri Masjid” and “no person can derive benefit out of an illegality while granting title to Hindu parties”.
It said the judgement erred in disregarding the settled principle of law that a “tainted cause of action cannot be sustained or decreed in a civil suit”. “This court erred in wrongly applying Article 142 of the Constitution as doing complete justice or restituting the illegality could only be done by directing the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid,” said the review plea, running into 93-pages.
Rashidi said he was conscious of the sensitive nature of the case and understood the need to put a “quietus to the dispute” to maintain peace and harmony, but there “can be no peace without justice”.
“Further, this court has, in an attempt to balance the reliefs between the parties, while condoning illegalities of the Hindu parties, has allotted alternate land ad-measuring five acres to Muslim parties, which was neither pleaded nor prayed for by the Muslim parties,” it said.
The verdict disregarded the settled legal principle and supported “a party which based its cause of action upon an illegal act,” it said. The top court “committed an error apparent by elevating a mere look at the central dome by the Hindu parties to a claim of possessory title,” it said.
The fact that Babri mosque was a waqf property was wrongly not accepted, it said and alleged uneven appreciation of evidence. The verdict gave “precedence to oral testimonies of the Hindu parties vis-a-vis the contemporary documentary evidence of the Muslim parties, which resulted in incorrect application of doctrine of preponderance of probabilities,” it said.
“This apex court committed an error apparent by not appreciating that the structure in question had always been a mosque and had been in exclusive possession of Muslims,” it said, adding the principle of presumption under the Evidence Act on the issue of offering of ‘namaz’ at the site between 1528 to 1856 was disregarded.
“This court committed grave error by elevating the mere prescriptive rights of the Hindu parties, which were settled as far back as in 1886, to those of possessory title,” it said. The lawsuit of the deity should not have been entertained by the court as it was based “on mere impatience” which can never be a valid cause of action for any litigation, it said.
“This court erred in relying on travellers’ accounts and archaeological findings in order to decide issues of title, despite noting that travellers’ accounts were not conclusive and archaeological findings could not be the basis of deciding a title dispute,” it said.
“Further, despite noting that only the facts after the annexation of Oudh in 1856 were to be considered for adjudicating the present dispute, this court proceeded to rely upon the facts prior to 1856,” the review plea said.
The plea, however, said it was not assailing certain findings of the court such as Nirmohi Akhara’s lawsuit was barred by limitation and the birth place was not a juristic entity.
The plea also did seek review of Supreme Court’s findings that “deity is not a perpetual minor for the purposes of limitation”.
(With inputs from agencies)