Will the 70-year-old Ayodhya title dispute come to an end on Wednesday? Will the Supreme Court pronounce its final judgement in the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case? The fate will be unveiled on Wednesday when Hindu and Muslim sides wrap up their final submissions before the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The other four in the panel are SA Bobde, Ashok Bhushan, DY Chandrachud and SA Nazeer. Ahead of the final day, Ayodhya has turned fortress with heightened security. Section 144 was imposed in anticipation of the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute verdict.
What are Hindu parties saying:
The Hindu parties have been arguing that the ASI report, which concludes presence of a Hindu temple below the mosque, corroborated by travelogues and Gazetteers of Western visitors identifying the Hindu belief and faith on the birthplace or Lord Ram, weighs high on evidentiary value establishing their arguments.
Hindu parties have adopted a strategy where every counsel has been allocated a designated scope of arguments -- senior advocate K Parasaran argued on birthplace of Lord Ram as a legal entity; senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan argued on the conclusion of the ASI report; senior advocate PN Mishra argued on Islamic law; and senior advocate Sushil Jain argued for Nirmohi Akhara.
What are Muslim parties saying:
Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan is appearing for Sunni Waqf Board to put his arguments on the Muslim body's lawsuit claiming possession of the disputed site. Dhavan has been at the forefront of contesting Muslims' claim on the disputed site. At 73, he is the only lawyer, out of plethora of counsels engaged in the case, who have argued on the matter for more than two weeks. He has single-handedly contested every strand of argument advanced by Hindu parties' counsels, though he was assisted by short spell of arguments by three other senior lawyers.
He has vehemently opposed the Hindu parties' counsel from introducing fresh evidence and also countered a volley of queries from the judges. Before the Dussehra vacations, Justice Bobde and Dhavan exchanged some sharp comments on the nature of divinity in Islam.
The Muslim parties have been contesting that the ASI report is inconclusive and riddled with inconsistencies; and travelogues are mere stories, which cannot be relief as a crucial piece of evidence. The Muslim side has also strongly contested Hindus' side arguments terming the birthplace of Lord Ram under the central dome as a legal entity. Muslim parties have argued that and is not Swayambhu, self-existing, whereas Kailash Mansarovar is an accurate example of manifestation.
The curious case of Lord Ram's birthplace as legal entity
The Hindu faith believes that Lord Ram was born in the inner courtyard below the central dome of the Babri Masjid which was demolished on December 6, 1992, whereas Muslim parties to the dispute say Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, but not the inner courtyard.
Senior advocate K. Parasaran, representing Ram Lalla Virajman, has argued before the apex court that the concept of land being recognized as a juristic person has to be seen from the point of view of Hindu law, and it is unnecessary to turn to Roman law or English law.
The 93-year-old lawyer argued that while deity himself is not a person in law, but whatever form it is believed to have manifested itself becomes a person in law.
In the case of a temple where no idol is consecrated, it does not cease to be a religious institution. The worshippers who treat such an institution with reverence and offer worship there cannot be treated differently from those who worship at a temple with an idol/image.
Parasaran told the court that India is a pluralistic society and as such, no precise definition of universal application regarding, what is religion and what matters of religious belief are or religious practice can be made.
The idol or image is consecrated and installed in the temple to represents the physical manifestation of the deity sought to be worshipped.
"Such an idol or image comes to be recognized as the juristic entity, capable of holding property endowed/dedicated to the deity. However, the object of worship is not the idol itself, but God/deity/divinity which is believed to manifest in such idol," Parasaran told the apex court.
He also cited the list of temples in India with no idols brought on record by Muslim side.
He insisted that Hindu law has grown and evolved by way of judicial interpretation from instance to instance, and the places of public worship in the Hindu religion are diverse, and worship may perform at these places with or without images/idols.
The Muslim side has contested treating land under the central dome as juristic entity.
"It is not possible to put the concept of a Hindu temple or a Hindu idol in a strait-jacket. The commonality however is that the purpose remains the same i.e. to offer worship to a deity / divinity. What differs is the mode and manner of worship, depending on the form of the deity/divinity," Parasaran had contended before the court.
Hindus do not worship the material body of the idol, made of clay or gold or any other substance, rather they worship the eternal spirit of the deity or certain attributes thereof in a suggestive form which is used for the convenience as a mere symbol or emblem, he said.
"It is the incantation of the mantras, peculiar to a particular deity, which causes the manifestation or presence of the deity. God is formless and shapeless, " he told the apex court.
He also told the court about the Indian law perspective, on treating an idol as a juristic person is rooted in the faith of the people that the divinity has manifested itself in such an idol and is thus capable of holding movable and immovable property dedicated to it, so as to create accountability to the worshippers and prevent swindling of donations.
He emphasized on protecting the right of the worshippers, and the deeming fiction to identify the deity as juristic person is to ensure it, and also the jurisdiction and rights of the deity, are protected.
"In the absence of a juristic person, where worship is offered to a formless deity, neither the deity's nor the worshipper's rights can be effectively protected," he reiterated, stating that when a person visits a temple to offer worship, it is not merely the garbha-griha (sanctum sanctorum) which comprises the temple. The area surrounding the garbha-griha is also part of the temple. Therefore, Ram Lalla has claimed the possession of the entire dispute site.
(With IANS inputs)