[Ayodhya] [Day 5] : 'There Cannot Be Joint Or Adverse Possession Of The Birthplace, Which By Itself Is A Deity', Submits Sr Adv C S Vaidyanathan

[Ayodhya] [Day 5] :

On Day 5 of the hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, Senior Advocate C. S. Vaidyanathan, for Ram Lalla, sought to make the argument that the 'Janmasthan' is in itself the deity, and that there cannot be any adverse possession, joint possession of it or title claim to it.

"There is some conceptual confusion by the High Court. There are 3 concepts- the deity, the abode (or the temple) of the deity, and the property of the deity. What we are pleading is that the 'Janmasthan' is the deity. There can't be any owner of it. Or joint possession. The Muslim devotees of the mosque have access to it. But the court was forgetting the finding which was recorded to the effect that the place is the deity and that the deity is the owner of the place!", he advanced.

Indicating the conclusion in the Allahabad High Court judgment that "the premises which is believed to be the place of birth of Lord Rama continue to vest in the deity", he commented, "But if the place is itself the deity, it cannot vest in the deity"

"You are saying that the deity cannot own itself", paraphrased Justice D. Y. Chandrachud.

" A religious endowment does not create title in respect of the property dedicated in anybody's favour", quoted Mr. Vaidyanathan from a 2005 decision of the apex court (reported in (2005) 1 SCC 457).

"...when property is dedicated for a particular purpose, the property itself upon which the purpose is impressed, is raised to the category of a juristic person so that the property which is dedicated would vest in the person so created", recited Justice S. A. Bobde from the same judgment.

"Only when property is dedicated to a deity, there may be some adverse possession of it. But not of the deity or of the abode of the deity. When the place is itself the deity, there can be no adverse or joint possession or title claim", repeated the Senior Counsel.

"Your world view may not be universal. Where the place is the deity, it is in itself God personified. But if it is a place of worship first, then there are also the right of access and to remain present of the devotees. These world views need to be balanced", observed Justice Chandrachud.

"But if the High Court says that the place is the deity, the question of joint possession or title does not arise and any finding on that account would be inconsistent (to the finding that the place is the deity)...it will be a destruction, a division of the deity", asserted Mr. Vaidyanathan.

Placing reliance on some rulings, he continued, "Even when the property is not in itself the deity, but only the property of the deity, it cannot be destroyed!"

"A deity is not partible, you say?", confirmed Justice Bobde.

"If the place is the deity, there can't be any mutilation of it. It continues to be the deity and will remain so. The mere fact of a mosque being put up does not take away from its sanctity. That the people who worship the mosque have access to the place does not in any way make them the owners of the place or give them possession of the place jointly with anyone, and they cannot as such claim any right in it", replied Mr. Vaidyanathan.

"So the construction of the mosque In the 15th or the 16th century will not lead to a consequence in law?", inquired Justice Chandrachud.

"The circumstance that Lord Ram was born there made it a deity. The faith and the belief of the people, who worship it as a deity regardless of the three-dome structure (of the mosque), is accepted...(Earlier in the day, Justice Ashok Bhushan had conceded that sanctity is attached to the Kamadgar Temple Parikrama solely on account of the belief that Lord Ram and Goddess Sita had resided there)...The access to the mosque was contested but the Hindu right to worship never stopped...", argued Mr. Vaidyanathan.

"The Sunni Waqf Board is the plaintiff in Suit no. 4, claiming ejectment of persons and restoration of possession. But there cannot be any possession of the deity ('You are yet to show that', noted Justice Bobde)...They have to stand or fall on their own. Apart from limitation, they have to prove their title...", he said. In the morning, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had wondered how negating the Muslims' title established their own claim.

Next, Mr. Vaidyanathan contrasted the finding in Justice S. U. Khan's (of the High court) judgment that the mosque had been constructed over the ruins of a temple with his other finding that the Hindus had been unable to prove the existence of the temple.

"So the temple may be in ruins but the place continues to be the deity. And Justice Khan's finding regarding the ruins confirms it", noted Justice Bobde.

From the Allahabad High Court's impugned judgment, Mr. Vaidyanathan pointed out a document exhibited in 1858 on the plaintiff's side in Suit no. 4, in which it was stated that "Previously the symbol of Janam had been there for hundreds of years and Hindus did puja".

At this juncture, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan stood up to counter on behalf of the Waqf Board that there had been no admissions or denial in the case, Justice Bobde asked who had exhibited the document.

Then came an exhibit being the 1870 P. Carnegie Report that averred "Ajudhia is to Hindus what Mecca is to Mohammedans, Jerusalem to Jews".

Earlier, Mr. Vaidyanathan had drawn the bench's attention to an almost-identical statement of a Muslim witness.

"Not a single exhibit, not a single evidence has been shown till now. He is only reading extracts from the judgment", objected Dr. Dhavan.

"That is his (Mr. Vaidyanathan's) weak point", resonated the Chief Justice.

"It may not be!", argued Dr. Dhavan.

"That is what the respondents are for...", Justice Chandrachud tried to explain

"To read what he doesn't read?!...when I come back to this, Your Lordships might not want to read!", Dr. Dhavan said.

"We won't stop you from saying anything", assured the Chief Justice - "Let us see!", commented Dr. Dhavan.

"Then we can't help it! It is getting too far from Day 1! Let us be very loud and clear...we are not in a hurry! Mr. Vaidyanathan, you place your case however you want, regardless of anything. Take however long you want. And this we say to all the advocates. Now after this, there will be no interference!", observed the Chief Justice.

The hearing will resume on Wednesday.