The Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Oct 14 : In a new twist in the last leg of Ayodhya title dispute case hearing, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide adequate security to Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board chairman, Zufar Ahmad Farooqui, after he apprehended a threat to his life.

Farooqui had moved the apex court through Sriram Panchu, one of the three-member mediation panel formed by the court in order to seek an amiable solution to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is currently hearing the matter.

The Chief Justice at the end of hearing, on the 38th day, flagged the note from Panchu where Farooqui apprehended a threat to his life, saying: "Uttar Pradesh government should provide adequate security to him (Farooqui)." While the Chief Justice was reading out the note from Panchu, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is leading the arguments from Muslim parties' side, told the bench that Farooqui faces threat from the UP government, and there is allegedly a conspiracy to get him off the case.

The UP government counsel, who was also present in the court, gave assurance to the top court on the security arrangements for Farooqui.

According to a counsel from Muslim side, the UP government was exerting pressure on the Sunni Waqf Board to reach an out of court settlement on the matter. "The Waqf Board is under the state government. The government has the authority to replace the chairman with somebody who follows its orders," said the counsel on the condition of anonymity.

The Chief Justice, while sorting the hearing schedule, indicated that the court can conclude the arguments in the case on October 16, a day ahead of the deadline, and insisted all counsel to follow the time slot allocated to wrap up their arguments. This reaction from court came after Dhavan submitted he will take two hours on Tuesday to finish his arguments, and the Hindu urged the court to give them at least two days to reply.

During the hearing, Dhavan took pot-shots at the NDA government at its attempts to rewrite history. He vehemently argued if something was found below the disputed site after excavations, it cannot invalidate the Babri mosque after 450 years.

"It is possible for your lordships to rewrite history.... you will open a Pandora's box. It is an untidy exercise. History books might be written based on your lordships' understanding (of the subject). I don't want that.... Rewriting history when a new government came into power in New Delhi," Dhavan contended.

He further insisted that it is Hindu side proposition that digging must take place over 500 mosques which they claim were built over Hindu temples.

Contesting the argument of adverse possession, Dhavan told the court, "When was the claim of adverse possession made? Was it made after 1885 at any point of time? They (Hindu side) have to prove adverse possession. They cannot get away by telling a few Muslims could not pray at the site, it is not adverse possession." Dhavan contended the Allahabad High Court was wrong in getting into Islamic law, as it requires enormous knowledge. He referred Aurangzeb as an emperor who gave grants to temples and the Muslim side wants the mosque back as it was before its demolition.

Dhavan, at the beginning of the hearing, insisted that the central dome of the Babri-Masjid is crucial and it is nub of the case. He told the apex court onus was on the Hindu side to prove their title, as the title of the Muslim side is incontrovertible since 1885. Moreover, there is nothing which makes Babri Masjid un-Islamic structure, he added.

The arguments in the case will continue on Tuesday.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at sumit.s@ians.in)

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