New Delhi: The Supreme Court was told by one of the Hindu parties to the politically sensitive Ayodhya land matter that no Muslims were allowed to enter the disputed structure since 1934 and it had been in the exclusive possession of the Nirmohi Akhara.
Advancing the arguments, the Nirmohi Akhara, one of the parties to the dispute, said the structure had been in its exclusive possession. Day-to-day hearing in the case has commenced after efforts to arrive at an amicable settlement through mediation failed.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for the Nirmohi Akhara, that they were seeking management and possession of the area.
The bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, commenced the day-to-day hearing by rejecting the plea of former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya seeking recording of the Ayodhya case proceedings.
Jain told the apex court that the Nirmohi Akhara's suit was basically for belongings, possession and management rights. "I am a registered body. My suit is basically for belongings, possession and management rights," he said. Jain also told the court that the Nirmohi Akhara was in possession of the inner courtyard and the Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years.
"We were in possession of the inner courtyard and the Ram Janmasthan for hundreds of years. The outer courtyard having 'Sita Rasoi', 'Chabutra', 'Bhandar Grah' was in our possession and it was never a part of dispute in any case," the senior counsel told the bench.
The ongoing hearing also witnessed a heated exchange of words between the bench and senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was appearing for a Muslim party.
While the bench was asking the counsel for the Nirmohi Akhara to confine his arguments to the civil dispute and skip reading some written statements, Dhavan interfered and said perhaps there would not be any curtailment of arguments.
The CJI said the hearing or the arguments would not be curtailed in any manner and there should be no doubt in anybody's mind about it. Dhavan again said that is what he was saying and made some statement. At this, the CJI said, "Dr Dhavan, keep the dignity of the court." Dhavan said he had only replied to some questions.
The bench told him, "Please keep it in mind that you are an officer of the court and all we are saying is that we are not going to curtail anybody's arguments."
During the hearing, the counsel representing the Nirmohi Akhara claimed right over the disputed 2.77-acre Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land and said they had been possessing, managing and worshipping Ram Lalla at the site since time immemorial.
"In any case, you have been given one-third of the disputed area in the preliminary decree by the high court," the bench told the Nirmohi Akhara's counsel.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.