The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to referred the long-disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case to a larger Constitution Bench and ruled that the existing three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer will continue hearing the civil suit from October 29.
Justice Ashok Bhushan, reading out the judgement on behalf of the CJI and himself, stated that observations in Ismail Faruqui were made in the context of that case and no case has been made out to refer the case to a Constitution Bench.
â€śEarlier finding that mosque is integral to Islam was made in the context of land acquisition. The present case shall be decided on its own facts, the Ismail Farooqui Judgment would have no impact on it,â€ť the majority judgement stated.
Justice Nazeer dissented from the majority and stated that the "questionable" observations in the Ismail Farooqi ruling were arrived at without undertaking a comprehensive examination and they had permeated the judgement in the main Ayodhya title suit. He said a Constitution Bench must decide what constitutes essential practices of a religion and thereafter the Ayodhya land dispute should be heard.
The apex court was hearing a plea by Muslim litigants seeking direction that a larger Constitution bench hear the batch of petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict which had directed that the disputed site at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh be split into three parts.
On July 20, the SC bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer had reserved the verdict on the plea by the Muslim litigants seeking reconsideration of the part of 1994 top court judgement which had said that "mosque was not essential to Islam for offering namaz".
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in its September 30, 2010, verdict ordered that the disputed site be divided into three parts â€“ one for the deity (Ramlala Virajmaan), another for Nirmohi Akhara â€“ a Hindu sect â€“ and third to the original litigant in the case for the Muslims.
The Uttar Pradesh government, which is not a party in the title suit, had questioned the Muslim litigants in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case for making "belated efforts" seeking a relook at the 1994 Ismail Farooqui judgment that had said that mosques were not an integral part of the religious practice of offering prayers.
The State government had said that the Muslim parties did not question the legality of the 1994 judgement till the appeal against 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment on the ownership of the disputed land was taken up for hearing by the top court.
During the course of the hearing, Justice Bhushan had observed that nobody was questioning that mosque is essential to Islam, but the question is whether offering namaz in a mosque was essential.
The Hindu parties said that reference to 1994 judgement in the hearing of the title suit in no way impacted the 2010 High Court judgment.
The court was told that the birthplace of Lord Ram cannot be shifted to another site, while a mosque with no particular religious significance to the Muslims can be shifted as that will "not affect the right to practice religion by offering 'namaz' in other mosques".
To go to pilgrimage is a practice of religious faith both for the Muslims and the Hindus as well, but for the Muslims, "Mecca and Medina alone are places of particular significance" as pilgrimage centres, but for them, such was not the case with Ayodhya/Babri Masjid.
(With IANS inputs)