In a significant development in the Ram JanmabhoomiBabri Masjid case, the Supreme Court is considering whether the law laid down in paras 75 to 82 of its 1994 judgment in Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India should be revisited by a Constitution Bench.

The paragraphs of the Supreme Court judgment in question shed light upon the sovereign power of the state to acquire property. These paras also state that the right to practice, profess and propagate religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution does not necessarily include the right to acquire or own or possess property. As per para 81,

“While offer of prayer or worship is a religious practice, its offering at every location where such prayers can be offered would not be an essential or integral part of such religious practice unless the place has a particular significance for that religion so as to form an essential or integral part thereof.” 

The three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer is hearing the parties on this issue.

Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan argued his submissions on this point today.

“Your Lordships will have to decide what is the meaning of ‘mosque’. The judgment is on the ground that a Muslim can pray anywhere and it does not make any difference whether it is a mosque or not. So do we take it that a mosque is not essential and integral?

Every mosque is integral to the faith. We cannot have a narrow view of essential and integral religious practice. If Your Lordships are saying mosque is not integral, then it has to go before a larger Bench”, Dhavan argued.

He further claimed that even though the mosque was destroyed, it did not cease to be a mosque in the eyes of the law.

“If there is any decency in our secular system, we would rebuild the mosque.”

The Bench then rose for the day. The hearing will resume on March 23, at 2 pm.

Earlier, the Court rejected a slew of intervention applications in the matter, while also directing the Registry not to entertain any such applications.

Subramanian Swamy
Subramanian Swamy

Subramanian Swamy’s intervention application was also listed today. Swamy’s application dealt with the right to worship at the disputed spot. “I have raised the issue of fundamental right, not property [dispute]”, Swamy submitted. Swamy also stated that he had initially filed a writ petition but had withdrawn the same to file an application for intervention. Since the Court was not inclined to entertain the intervention application, it disposed of the same while ordering that the earlier writ petition filed by Swamy shall stand revived. The writ petition would be heard separately by an appropriate Bench.

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