In a major ruling linked to the long-pending contentious Ayodhya issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday declined to refer to a five-judge Constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The issue had arisen during the hearing of Ayodhya land dispute.
In a majority verdict of 2:1, the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence and the previous verdict has no relevance on it.
Justice Ashok Bhushan, who read out the judgement for himself and the CJI, said it has to find out the context in which the five-judge had delivered the 1994 judgement.
Justice S Abdul Nazeer disagreed with the two judges and said whether mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering belief of religion and it requires detailed consideration.
He referred to the recent Supreme Court order on female genital mutilation and said the present matter be heard by larger bench. The apex court said now the civil suit on land dispute will be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29 as Justice Misra will retire as Chief Justice on October 2.
Highlights of what happened in Supreme Court:
02:31 pm: Whether mosque is integral to Islam to be decided considering belief of religion, requires detailed consideration: Justice Nazeer
02:28 pm: What constitutes essential practice of religion needs to be considered in detail by a larger bench, says Justice S Abdul Nazir as he disagrees with Justice Bhushan and CJI Misra
02:27 pm: The Supreme Court by 2:1 majority decides that a 3-judge bench would begin hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute from the week starting from October 29.
02:22 pm: Civil suit has to be decided on basis of evidence and previous verdict has no relevance: Justice Bhushan.
02:16 pm: All religions and religious places need to be equally respected. Ashoka's edicts preach tolerance to faith of others, says Justice Ashok Bhushan
02:15 pm: Ayodhya land dispute case will not be referred to a larger bench: Justice Bhushan on behalf of him and CJI Dipak Misra
02:13 pm: All religions have to be respected equally by the State. Constitution bench judgement was confined to acquisition of land: Justice Bhushan
02:12 pm: Earlier finding that mosque is integral to Islam was made in context of land acquisition: Justice Bhushan
02:11 pm: We have to find the context in which 5 judges delivered 1994 verdict in Ismail Farooqi case that mosque is not integral to Islam: Jus tice Bhushan.
02:07 pm: Justice Ashok Bhushan reading judgement for himself and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
02:01 pm: Supreme Court judges start reading out the verdict.
Babri Masjid-Ram temple case: Ayodhya parties free to settle dispute, says SC as it begins deciding title suit
01:59 pm: A three-judge Supreme Court bench to start reading out the verdict from 2pm.
What court had observed
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 mosque was essential.
What Muslim groups had said
It was argued by the Muslim groups before a special bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer that the "sweeping" observation of the apex court in the verdict needed to be reconsidered by a five-judge bench as "it had and will have a bearing" on the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case.
What Hindu groups had said
Earlier, Hindu groups had opposed the plea of their Muslim counterparts that the 1994 verdict holding that a mosque was not integral to the prayers offered by the followers of Islam be referred to a larger bench.
The observations were made in the land acquisition matter pertaining to the Ayodhya site and the apex court had to consider two aspects as to whether a mosque could be acquired at all and whether a religious place of worship like a mosque, church or temple was immune from acquisition if it was a place of special significance for that religion and formed its essential and integral part.
The 2010 Ayodhya ruling
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
WATCH: Supreme Court's big Ayodhya-linked verdict
(With PTI inputs)