UP govt is no more neu­tral in the mat­ter, says coun­sel

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

THE BENCH IS HEAR­ING THE DECADES­OLD TI­TLE SUIT BE­TWEEN MUS­LIM AND HINDU GROUPS, WITH BOTH AP­PEAL­ING AGAINST AL­LA­HABAD HC JUDGE­MENT THAT AP­POR­TIONED 2.77 ACRES OF LAND INTO THREE POR­TIONS

NEW DELHI: Draw­ing a par­al­lel be­tween the de­struc­tion of Babri Masjid to the Bamiyan Bud­dha’s de­mo­li­tion in Afghanistan, one of the Mus­lim lit­i­gants in the Ram­jan­mab­hoomi-babri Masjid case ac­cused the Ut­tar Pradesh Gov­ern­ment of not re­main­ing neu­tral in the mat­ter, as promised. Pe­ti­tioner IM Sid­diqui’s lawyer, se­nior ad­vo­cate Ra­jeev Dha­van said if the Tal­ibans had pulled down Bud­dha’s statue in Bamiyan then “Hindu Tal­ibans” had de­mol­ished the mosque in Ay­o­d­hya.

Dha­van ad­vanced his ar­gu­ments be­fore a spe­cial bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra.

The bench is hear­ing the decades-old ti­tle suit be­tween the Mus­lim and Hindu groups, with both ap­peal­ing against the Al­la­habad High Court judge­ment that ap­por­tioned 2.77 acres of land into three por­tions.

One third of the land was ear­marked to Hin­dus, one third to Mus­lims and one third to Ram Lalla. No faith, he said, was al­lowed to destory a mosque as Con­sti­tu­tion pre­serves democ­racy in the coun­try. Dha­van then crit­i­cized the top court’s 1994 rul­ing that said mosque is not in­te­gral to Mus­lim re­li­gion.

“No faith has the right to de­stroy a mosque .. . and then to ar­gue that now it has been de­stroyed, you have no right to pray.” It is the ar­gu­ment of Mus­lim par­ties that the high court was in­flu­enced by the supreme court’s mosque rul­ing while ar­riv­ing at its de­ci­sion.

Dha­van re­called UP gov­ern­ment’s as­sur­ance given to the top court. “The Gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties were sup­posed to play a neu­tral role in the present pro­ceed­ings, this is ev­i­dent from their own plead­ings which have also been recorded in judg­ment (on the mosque not be­ing in­te­gral to mus­lim faith).the State has taken a non-neu­tral stance in the present,” Dha­van ar­gued.

He con­tended the state’s in­ter­ven­tion was un­called for. Cen­tral gov­ern­ment law of­fi­cer, Ad­di­tional so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Tushar Me­hta, is ap­pear­ing for the state.

“ASG is the of­fi­cer of the Union of In­dia which is the statu­tory re­ceiver in the case,” Dha­van said, say­ing not only was it breach of faith of the court but also im­per­mis­si­ble. Me­hta had op­posed Dha­van’s de­mand for a ref­er­ence. He had on the last hear­ing said such a de­mand was never raised all these years and to make the sub­mis­sions at this stage was noth­ing but an at­tempt to de­lay and avoid a fi­nal de­ci­sion of a long-pend­ing dis­pute.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate S.N. Singh ap­pear­ing for Shia Board said the board wanted “to do­nate one third land granted to Mus­lims by the Al­la­habad High Court to Hin­dus for build­ing Ram tem­ple.”

“For the unity, in­tegrity, peace and har­mony of this great coun­try, Shia Waqf Board is in favour of do­nat­ing Mus­lim share of land to Hin­dus for Ram tem­ple,” he said.

It fur­ther claimed that the ri­val Sunni Board is un­der the dom­i­nant con­trol of “Sunni hard­lin­ers,” “fa­nat­ics” and “non-be­liev­ers in peace­ful co-ex­is­tence, who have ab­so­lutely no stake in the present case.”

It pleaded that to bring qui­etus to the decades old dis­pute, the Masjid could be lo­cated in a Mus­lim dom­i­nated area at a rea­son­able dis­tance from the most “revered place of birth of Maryada Pu­rushot­tam Sri Ram,” say­ing it firmly be­lieves that its ef­forts would def­i­nitely bring about an am­i­ca­ble set­tle­ment of the dis­pute and usher in a new era for both Mus­lims and Hin­dus to live in peace and har­mony.

How­ever, Dha­van coun­tered the ar­gug­ment. He said the Shia Board has no lo­cus standi in the case as they were never a party to the ti­tle suits in the HC. The court will not con­tinue with the hear­ings on July 20.

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