Ayodhya case: a devotee’s faith cannot be questioned, says Supreme Court

The Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya dispute appeals asked advocate Rajeev Dhavan to focus on the contention raised by the Hindu parties that even the janam asthan (birth place) is a juristic person.

A worshipper’s unflinching faith in the Ramjanmabhumi cannot be questioned; it has to be accepted, the Supreme Court addressed senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, on Friday.

The Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya dispute appeals asked Mr. Dhavan to focus on the contention raised by the Hindu parties that even the janam asthan (birth place) is a juristic person.

“What are the features involved to conclude that an idol or even the janam asthan is a juristic person? Cull that out and address us,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud told Mr. Dhavan.

The court’s remarks came in response to Mr. Dhavan’s contention that there was hardly any evidence to back the faith of the Hindus in the janam asthan from “time immemorial”.

Mr. Dhavan had also questioned the deity’s claim in the Ayodhya title suit. But Justice Chandrachud repeated his earlier question to the Hindu parties to Mr. Dhavan also. “When a place assumes the character of a juridical person by virtue of birth of a deity or marriage of a deity, then would not areas abutting the spot where the garlands were exchanged also become part of it?”

Earlier, arguing for the Ayodhya deity, senior advocate K. Parasaran described the “Asthan (place) as the personification of the deity. It has by itself become an object of worship for the Hindus”.

The lawyer had argued that the suit filed by the deity in 1989 is not hit by limitation as the installation of idols in the Babri mosque on the intervening night of December 22-23 of 1949 is not a “continuous wrong” as there was an interim injunction order was passed on January 19, 1950, which was again confirmed on March 3, 1951. The appeal against the injunction order was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court in April 1955.

A Hindu deity in law is treated as a juristic person with rights. The Ayodhya deity is an infant form of Lord Ram. The deity is deemed a perpetual minor. The law of limitation does not apply to minors. The Allahabad High Court had admitted the suit filed on behalf of Ram Lalla and appointed the next friend to represent the deity. The suit in the name of the deity had sought a declaration that the Ramjanmabhumi belonged to the deities. It had also sought a judicial order prohibiting any obstruction in the construction of the new temple building in the disputed area.

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