The Supreme Court today refused to refer to a five-judge Constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam that arose during the hearing of Ayodhya land dispute.
The issue had cropped up when a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing the batch of appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict by which the disputed land on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid area was divided in three parts.
A three-judge bench of the high court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the 2.77 acres of land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The top court directs that Faruqui decision was in context of acquisition of a mosque and are not relevant to deciding of a suit. The apex court has now fixed matters to be heard in the week commencing October 29.
The Supreme Court Thursday, in a 2:1 majority verdict, ruled that the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case – that mosques are not integral to Islam – will not be referred to a larger bench, clearing the way for the apex court to hear the main Ayodhya title suit. The majority verdict was pronounced by Justice Ashok Bhushan, who read on his and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s behalf. Justice S Abdul Nazeer presented a dissenting judgment.
The statement in Faruqui case was in the limited context of immunity claimed by the petitioners for the mosque from acquisition, Justice Bhushan said, adding that “it need not be read broadly to mean mosque can never be essential to practise of Islam”.
“The present case shall be decided on its own facts, the Ismail Farooqui judgment would have no impact on it,” Justice Bhushan added.
Justice Nazeer, in his judgment, said “questionable observations” in Faruqui ruling were “arrived at without undertaking comprehensive examination” and ‘have permeated” the judgement in the main Ayodhya title suit. He further stated that it needs to be brought in line with the Shirur mutt case. The next hearing has been slated for October 29.
Muslim organisations had argued before the special bench that the “sweeping” observation of the apex court in the 1994 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.