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Ayodhya land dispute: Arguments focus on concept of essential practices

Ayodhya land dispute: Arguments focus on concept of essential practices
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The Ayodhya land dispute case is being heard by the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

On Tuesday (May 15) counsels argued with old judgments the concept of essential practices.

Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan appeared before the bench and apologised for his absence at previous hearings. He quoted a judgment on contempt of court wherein the CM said something about some worker which he shouldn’t have. He placed three cases before the bench, stating it to be the preliminary part of the case.

The first one is Mohd Aslam v Union of India. Reason: some miscreants were responsible for the chaos. He read out relevant paragraphs from the judgment.

The second one is about whether the surrounding land is subject to status quo.

And the third, a 2013 judgment, detailing two reasons (a) ratio of Ismail Farooqi case and (b) comparison between two religions is absolutely wrong.

He talked about the concept of essential practices:

  1. In consonance with the Indian practices.
  2. Status quo derived from section 7 of the Act, the suit derived out of it stood maintainable?

He refers to the Kashinath Vishwanath 1994 judgment. He quotes a statement from the judgment which said that Muslims don’t need a mosque to worship/pray as they can worship in open as well.

He reads out a paragraph dealing with the constitution of essential practices. He said that Article 25 seeks to protect all the essential practices of a religion.

The CJI said: “According to my understanding, article 25 and 26 protect both essentiality and integrity.”

Kashinath Vishwanath case clear on the point of what is essential and what is integral. You cannot impose your practices on anyone. He quotes relevant paragraphs from Ismail Farooqui case. He quotes Devaguru case, Dargah committee case and the Nagdwara case.

He said, quoting the judgment, that places having special significance cannot be touched by a person or state.

From the Farooqui case, he submits that the protection under article 25,26 will only be provided to those monuments which have religious significance. He said that even if Hindus have the right to pray there, it doesn’t mean that Muslims don’t have the right to do the same.

“We were called upon to prove in suits that mosque holds an essential and integral right under article 25 of the constitution,” he said. He submits that the judgment in the Ismail Farooqi case never imposed its application on the suits.

Senior counsel for the respondents began his submissions. He refers to section 11(7) of the CPC. Is offering namaaz of essential significance? he asks. He refers to a 2014 judgment with respect to the case being referred to the constitutional bench.

He said that referring the case to a larger bench is no basis to overrule the previous judgments.

The matter listed for day after tomorrow.

—India Legal Bureau

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