Babri Case: Congress-BJP Engage in War of Words After SC Hearing
A day before the 25th demolition anniversary of Babri Masjid, the Supreme Court heard appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.
A day before the 25th demolition anniversary of Babri Masjid, the Supreme Court heard appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.

Babri Case: Congress-BJP Engage in War of Words After SC Hearing

On Tuesday, 5 December, a day before the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid’s demolition, the Supreme Court began hearing appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict in the case. The apex court scheduled the next hearing on 8 February 2018.

The SC bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had made clear on 5 December last year, that it would begin final hearing on the petitions from 8 February and had asked the parties to file the requisite pleadings in the meantime.

Senior lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan had contended that the civil appeals be either referred to a five or seven judge bench or posted in 2019 keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the case and its ramifications on the country's secular fabric and polity.

The Congress and the BJP engaged in war of words each accusing the other of “misleading the nation”.

Snapshotclose

  • The Supreme Court began hearing appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case on Tuesday, 5 December
  • The Sunni Waqf Board has rejected lawyer Kapil Sibal’s plea for hearing post 2019 Lok Sabha elections
  • The High Court, in 2010, had ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre area among the parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Lord Ram Lalla
  • The three-judge bench scheduled the next hearing on 8 February 2018
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KEY EVENT

Matter to be Treated as Civil Appeals Only

In pursuance to the Supreme Court’s earlier direction, the Yogi Adityanath government has submitted the English translation of exhibits and documents likely to be relied upon, as these were in eight different languages.

A battery of high profile lawyers, including senior advocates K Parasaran, CS Vaidyanathan and Saurabh Shamsheri, will appear for Lord Ram Lalla, the deity, and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent the Uttar Pradesh government.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Anoop George Chaudhari, Rajeev Dhavan and Sushil Jain will represent other parties, including the All-India Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.

The top court had on 11 August asked the Uttar Pradesh government to complete within 10 weeks the translation of the evidence recorded for adjudication of the title dispute in the High Court. It had said it would not allow the matter to take any shape other than the civil appeals, and would adopt the same procedure as was done by the High Court.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, an intervenor in the matter, had attempted to raise the issue of fundamental right of religion of Hindus under Article 25 of the Constitution.

Many of the original plantiffs and defendants in the matter, including Mohd Hashim, who was the first person to take the matter to the apex court, have died.

 A model of the Ram Temple that Hindu organisations want built on the site on which the Babri Masjid was destroyed.
A model of the Ram Temple that Hindu organisations want built on the site on which the Babri Masjid was destroyed.
(Photo: Reuters)  

(With inputs from PTI)

Also Read: Book Mulayam for Firing on Ayodhya ‘Karsewaks’ in 1990: VHP 

KEY EVENT

Failed Attempt at Finding a Solution

A sect of Muslims, under the banner of Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh, had earlier approached the court offering a solution that a mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a "reasonable distance" from the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Also Read: Mandir in Ayodhya, Masjid in Lucknow: Waqf Board Offers Solution

However, its intervention was opposed by the All India Sunni Waqf Board which had claimed that judicial adjudication between the two sects had already been done in 1946 by declaring the mosque, which was demolished on 6 December, 1992, as one which belongs to Sunnis.

The demolition was orchestrated 43 years after Ram Lalla’s idols were placed inside the Babri Masjid.
The demolition was orchestrated 43 years after Ram Lalla’s idols were placed inside the Babri Masjid.
(Photo: Reuters)

Also Read: ‘Nothing Else But Ram Mandir in Ayodhya’: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

KEY EVENT

Hearing to Begin in Four Civil Suits

The Supreme Court is set to commence the final hearing in the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid title dispute from Tuesday, 5 December.

A specially constituted bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer will be hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits.

A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.

Also Read: Ayodhya: Retracing The Fall of The Disputed Structure

KEY EVENT

Observe Anniversary Peacefully, Says Babri Masjid Action Committee

The Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) on Monday, 4 December, called on people to observe the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th-century mosque peacefully and hold special prayers for early resolution of the dispute.

BMAC convener Zafaryab Jilani said the anniversary should be observed peacefully like previous years, and all memorandums addressed to the government be handed over to the District Magistrate.

KEY EVENT

Shyam Benegal, Teesta Setalvad, and other activists ask SC to intervene

A group of social activists, campaigners, and artistes – including Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen, Teesta Setalvad, Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Kumar Ketkar and Anand Patwardhan – filed an intervening application in the Babri Masjid case at the Supreme Court on Friday, 1 December.

Their application asked for non-partisan views to be heard by the court, and stressed that the issue needs to be handled not just as a simple land dispute, but with an appreciation of the communal implications involved any ruling, and challenged the Allahabad High Court’s decision for failing to do so.

Highlighting the potential constitutional law issues, they also suggested that the matter be referred to a constitution bench of seven judges.

KEY EVENT

Locals Voice Their Expectations About the Verdict

Also Read: Ayodhya Dispute: What Do Locals Expect From The SC Verdict?

KEY EVENT

Judges Have Arrived, Proceedings Begin

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer have arrived, and the proceedings have begun in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.

Out of the documents which needed to be translated, most have been, except for some witness statements.

Kapil Sibal gave updates on the filing of exhibits as evidence. It seems like a lot of exhibits still haven't been filed.

KEY EVENT

Arguments over the Filing of Documents

The concerned parties are arguing over the documents that have been filed.

While Kapil Sibal, representing the Sunni Waqf Board, claimed that even the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report hadn't been filed, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, arguing for the Uttar Pradesh government, insisted that Sibal and others have been given everything they needed.

He told the court that all the related documents and requisite translation copies are on record. Senior advocate Satish Parasaran, representing one of the temple trusts, also said all documents are in order.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked one of the Hindu parties about their arguments, and why they were contesting the Allahabad High Court judgment. Sibal, however, intervened saying this can't happen till they have a chance to read all the documents.

KEY EVENT

'A Larger Bench Should Hear This Case'

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Sunni Waqf Board, argued that a larger bench with either five or seven judges should hear this case.

Saying that this case isn’t an ordinary one, Dhavan told the court that a larger, different bench is required, otherwise the case will be governed by a previous constitution bench, which held that mosques are not part of the essential religious practices of Muslims.

Arguing the importance of the case, Sibal also said that the matter should be taken up after the general elections of 2019. While maintaining that it is up to the court to decide what to do with the case, Sibal stressed on the timing of the case.

KEY EVENT

Suit "Needs to Start Somewhere": SC

Justice Ashok Bhushan questioned Kabil Sibal, asking why the case should be delayed. Replying to the judge, Sibal said the case is being heard right now because of Subramaniam Swamy's intervention.

He added that Swamy has a political agenda behind getting the case decided before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and that the court shouldn’t fall into his trap.

CS Vaidyanathan, who is appearing for Lord Ram Lalla, said politics shouldn't be brought into the matter.

Advocate Harish Salve said the case should proceed as a land dispute, and if a Constitutional question that is serious arises – such as whether mosques are essential religious practice for Muslims – that specific question should be sent to a constitution bench. However, Rajiv Dhavan retaliated by saying that the issue of the nature of the mosque is fundamental to the case.

Responding to Dhavan, Sibal pointed out that the Babri Masjid case isn’t an ordinary suit. The Supreme Court agreed with Sibal, but said that the suit “needs to start somewhere.”

KEY EVENT

CJI Takes Note of the Dispute Over Filing of Documents

CJI Dipak Misra took note of the dispute over the filing of documents. He also took stock of Rajiv Dhawan’s arguments that the matter should be referred to a larger bench.

Misra asked all parties to sit down and together submit all documents and get them finalised in a memorandum.

KEY EVENT

Next Hearing Date on 8 Feb 2018

The next hearing is scheduled for 8 February 2018. The registrar has been directed to keep track of the filing of documents.

The bench took serious note of the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the parties, that the appeals be heard in July 2019 after completion of the next Lok Sabha polls, as the atmosphere at present was not conducive.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, vehemently opposed contentions that the pleadings were not complete, and asserted that everything has been complied with and the cases were ripe for hearing.

KEY EVENT

CJI Will Take up Question of Constituting Larger Bench

The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said they'll take up the question of constituting a larger bench, if required.

Speaking to The Quint, Rajiv Dhawan, who argued for a larger bench, said that he will raise the issue again in the next hearing.

KEY EVENT

States and UTs Alert Ahead of Babri Demolition Anniversary

In view of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid on Wednesday, 6 December, the Centre has advised states and union territories to remain alert and take all precautions to maintain peace and communal harmony, sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

KEY EVENT

Sibal Preventing Ram Janmabhoomi Hearing: Amit Shah

In a press conference, BJP chief Amit Shah took a dig at Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Somnath temple, saying that while the Congress leader has been visiting temples in Gujarat, his fellow party member Kapil Sibal is attempting to delay the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.

Today, a surprising stand was taken in the Supreme Court by the Congress leader and Sunni Waqf Board lawyer Kapil Sibalji. He said the hearing should be deferred till after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress should clear its stand on this… Rahulji should tell us what his views on this are.
Amit Shah, BJP president
KEY EVENT

Watch the Roundup of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi Case

KEY EVENT

Who Sibal Represents in Court is His Personal Matter: Congress

Taking a dig at the BJP, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said even Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had adviced Dow Jones in the Bhopal gas tragedy case.

This was in response to the BJP’s accusation that the Congress is postponing the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title hearing. Surjewala said that his party has always maintained that the case is for the Supreme Court to decide and should Kapil Sibal represent somebody at the court in the matter, it would be his personal matter.

Congress’ stand has always been clear, that Ayodhya case will be decided by the Supreme Court, and the same has been said by the Law Minister many times. The BJP is playing the role of ‘manthara’. Who he (Sibal) represents in court is Kapil Sibal’s personal matter and the Congress has nothing to do with it. Arun Jaitleyji was a lawyer in Bhopal gas tragedy, does that mean the entire BJP party is to be blamed?
Randeep Surjewala, Congress spokesperson
KEY EVENT

UP Police Issues Directives Ahead of Babri Demolition Anniversary

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Sulkhan Singh on Tuesday, 5 December, issued detailed directives to the district police chiefs in the state for taking necessary steps to ensure peace and amity on the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition on 6 December.

The respective police chiefs have been asked to promulgate prohibitory orders in consultation with district magistrates, wherever required, and take all pre-emptive steps to ensure that no one collects bricks, stones, acid bottles, and other such things that could be used to harm peace, an official statement said.

Directives were issued to keep cracker shops closed on 6 December, besides maintaining alert on shops selling wine and arms, the statement said, adding that special vigil be undertaken against rumour mongers.

KEY EVENT

Security Heightened in Ayodhya on the 25th Anniversary of Babri Demolition

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    (Photo: ANI)
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    (Photo: ANI)
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    (Photo: ANI)

Heavy security has been deployed across Uttar Pradesh, including Faizabad and Ayodhya, on the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the disputed Babri Masjid structure, police said.

Twenty seven additional companies of the provincial armed constabulary (PAC) have been deployed across the state.

Of these, six companies each have been deployed in the state capital and in Faizabad district, especially to keep vigil on the temple town of Ayodhya.

Ayodhya has been divided into four zones and 10 sectors, and prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been clamped. Any form of protest and demonstration have been completely banned.

While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has been celebrating the 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque as 'Shaurya Diwas', some Muslim organisations observe it as a black day.

KEY EVENT

Subramanian Swamy's Talk in JNU on 'Why Ram Mandir in Ayodhya?' Cancelled

A talk titled ‘Why Ram Mandir in Ayodhya,’ to be held at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Konya Hostel on Wednesday, 6 December, has been cancelled by the university authorities.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy was to take part in the talk.

According to a report by FirstPost, Swamy said “left-wingers” must have pressurised the university’s vice chancellor to cancel the talk.

Also Read: Talks on Ram Mandir: JNU Cancels Swamy, to Go Ahead With Karat

KEY EVENT

Posters in UP Call for Reconstruction of Babri Masjid; FIR Lodged Against PFI

Posters asking for the launch of a movement for the reconstruction of Babri Masjid were put up in several districts of Uttar Pradesh, a day before the 25th anniversary of the mosque’s demolition.

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    Posters seen in Meerut on 5 December.
    Posters seen in Meerut on 5 December.(Photo: ANI)
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    (Photo: ANI)

According to a report by The Times of India, the posters were put up by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in places like Meerut, Ghaziabad, Aligarh, and Saharanpur.

Meerut police lodged an FIR against the PFI for putting up the provocative posters.

The slogans read, “Kahi hum bhool na jaye”, “Dhokey ke pachis saal” and “Babri masjid ki dobara tameer karo”, The Indian Express reported.

Mohammad Shakif, a member of the PFI, told News 18 that they have put up the posters across Uttar Pradesh.

KEY EVENT

'How is the Ayodhya Issue Connected to the Lok Sabha Elections?: Modi Reacts to Sibal's Request

Addressing a rally at Dhandhuka in Gujarat on Wednesday, 6 December, Prime Minister Modi said he had no objection with senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal fighting the Ayodhya case on the behalf of the Muslim community.

However, the PM questioned Sibal’s request that the case be deferred until after the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

Modi asked how the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case was related to the general elections.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also called Sibal’s comments “irresponsible and unfair”.

As a lawyer, Kapil Sibal can argue any matter but he should not forget that he has been the law minister in the past. What does he mean when he says don’t hear the matter till 2019, as it will have an impact outside? It is unfair, and, in many ways, irresponsible.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law Minister
KEY EVENT

Delhi University Students Hold 'Silent Protest'

The students of Delhi University held a silent protest and performed a street play against the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, outside the Vishwavidhyalaya Metro Station.

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    Students od Delhi University hold a silent protest against the demolition.
    Students od Delhi University hold a silent protest against the demolition.(Photo: The Quint)
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    (Photo: The Quint)
KEY EVENT

Sunni Waqf Board Rejects Sibal's Statement on Hearing

Sunni Waqf Board chief Haji Mehboob, on 6 December asserted that his board does not support the statement made by Kapil Sibal during the case hearing on 5 December.

Yes, Kapil Sibal is our lawyer but he is also related to a political party. His statement in SC yesterday was wrong, we want a solution to the issue at the earliest.
Haji Mehboob

Mehboob added that every Hindu and Muslim in the country wanted a “solution” to the issue soon.

KEY EVENT

Modi 'Congratulates' Waqf Board For Rejecting Sibal's Statement

Prime Minister Narendra Modi “congratulated” the Sunni Waqf board for their “brave stand” and disassociating themselves from the statement made by Kapil Sibal on 5 December, reported News18.

KEY EVENT

Not Representing Sunni Waqf Board, Says Sibal

Kapil Sibal, who was believed to be representing the Sunni Waqf Board in the Ayodhya dispute case, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should check his facts before delivering statements claiming that he represents the Muslim body.

We believe in the Lord, we don’t believe in you, Modiji. You are not going to build that temple, it will be done when God wants it. Please address the concerns of India. Don’t divide the people of our country like this. You may win perhaps in your mind, but you will lose badly and India will lose if you only care about yourself and not India. The PM did not check the fact that I never represented the Sunni Waqf Board. And yet he thanked Sunni Waqf Board for a statement on the basis that I represented them.
Kapil Sibal, Congress leader
KEY EVENT

Muslim Bodies Speak in Different Voices, AIMPLB Sides With Sibal

Major Muslim bodies, on Wednesday, 6 December, spoke in conflicting voices on the Ayodhya title suit, with the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board saying the organisation is against deferment of the hearing in the apex court till after the 2019 general elections and the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) saying the time was not right for the arguments to take place.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal had said in the Supreme Court, on 5 December, that the appeals in the case be heard in July 2019 after the completion of the next Lok Sabha polls.

The board is of the view that hearing in the case be held and the matter be disposed of promptly... I do not know on whose behalf the counsel for the Muslims appearing in the apex court, Kapil Sibal had stated this... No such directive had been given by the board... Apparently, Sibal had appeared on behalf of one of the appellants in the Ayodhya case, Hasim Ansari’s son Iqbal Ansari.
Zafar Farooqui, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board

The AIMPLB, which is not a party to the case, however, agreed with Sibal.

This is not the right time for holding the hearing in the case. If the next hearing is taken up, it will provide an opportunity to some people to take political mileage.
Maulana Wali Rehmani, general secretary, AIMPLB

Rehmani also said that Sibal had talked about shifting of the hearing on the advice of the AIMPLB and other Muslim parties.

KEY EVENT

Congress Playing With Hindu Belief: Yogi Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Wednesday, 6 December, that the Congress was "playing" with the faith of the Hindu community over the issue of construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Reacting to the controversy over senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal seeking deferment of hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute till 2019, he said:

It is like playing mischievously with the Hindu belief. The Congress will have to clarify whether it wants to see the Ram Mandir constructed in Ayodhya or not.

On Rahul Gandhi's claim that he is a devotee of Lord Shiva, Adityanath said, "The Congress government at the Centre had tried to demolish the Ram Setu which was built due to the effort of Lord Ram. When the matter was challenged in the Supreme Court, the Congress government had filed an affidavit raising question on the existence of Ram and Krishna," he said.

Rahul Gandhi should be asked, when he does not believe in Ram, Shiva, Krishna and when he said that people go to temple to tease women, then why do you go to the temple? Nothing wrong in going to temple but do so out of faith and not hypocrisy.
Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
KEY EVENT

Bajrang Dal Activists Booked for Taking out March in Ayodhya on Demolition Anniversary

Despite prohibitory orders, scores of Bajrang Dal activists took out a march on bikes and cars in Ayodhya, on Wednesday, 6 December, to mark 25 years of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, following which a case was registered against around 50 unidentified persons.

The Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad celebrated the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas’ (day of valour) while some Muslim outfits observed ‘Yaum-e-Gham’ (day of sorrow).

In Ayodhya, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were imposed.

However, Bajrang Dal took out a march following which a case was registered at the Ayodhya Kotwali police station.

Talking to PTI, Haji Mahboob, the local convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee, said, "we have demanded action against those trying to pollute the harmonious atmosphere of Ayodhya".

KEY EVENT

SC Order Shows Sibal Was Representing Sunni Waqf Board: BJP

BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia, on Thursday, 7 December, said Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal did indeed represent the Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya dispute case, and that the apex court’s order is a proof to that.

Supreme Court’s order of the day clearly states that Mr Kapil Sibal represented the Sunni Waqf Board and therefore the truth is now out. This is nothing but misleading the country.
Gaurav Bhatia, BJP national spokesperson

Watch: Kapil Sibal Responds to Modi's Remarks on Babri-Ramjanmabhoomi Case

    KEY EVENTS