NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court asked the Hindu parties on Friday to present proof of their claim that Babri Masjid was built on the remains of an ancient temple or Hindu religious structure.
“Over the past two millennia we have seen civilisations settle and resettle on river banks. They have built upon pre-existing structures. But prove that the alleged ruins or demolished building [on which Babri Masjid was built] was religious in nature,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, asked senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, who is appearing for the Ayodhya deity, Ram Lalla Virajman.
Justice S.A. Bobde, also part of the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Bobde, asked Mr. Vaidynathan to buttress his arguments that the structure was a temple and that too one dedicated to Lord Ram.
Mr. Vaidyanathan responded by referring to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) excavation report that the structure found underground dated back to the second century BC was massive in circumference with a large number of pillars endowed with sculptures, plastered walls and circular shrine. The Masjid was not built on vacant or agricultural land, but on a pre-existent structure which was at the time either in ruins or was demolished.
He acknowledged that there was nothing to show that the structure was a temple dedicated to Lord Ram. But the unstinting faith and belief of the people and the “preponderance of probabilities” show that it was indeed a temple for Lord Ram.
Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted photographs of sculptures, images, etc, found in the Babri Masjid structure — before it was demolished on December 6, 1992 by kar sevaks — indicating that this was in actuality a place of divine sanctity for the Hindus.
The senior lawyer referred to images on the pillars showing a Garuda flanked by lions.
“Such imagery was in complete contrast to Islamic practices. They [Muslims] have no images of any human or animal [in a mosque]… The imagery, sculptures within the structure [Babri Masjid] show it was not a mosque in the true sense. Such things are not usually seen in mosques,” he submitted.
Merely because Muslims prayed in the Babri Masjid did not give them ownership over it, Mr. Vaidyanathan argued.
When a street is used to offer worship, the street cannot be claimed to be a mosque, he said.
Besides, no Muslim artefacts were found in the excavations.
But Justice Chandrachud asked how the excavated figurines of animals, human forms could be associated with the divine.
“These may be just any human or animal figurines and not necessarily represent anything divine…” Justice Chandrachud observed.
The judge’s remark came after Mr. Vaidyanathan took them through over a 100 photographs of objects excavated from the disputed area to prove that it was a holy place for the Hindus for centuries.
Mr. Vaidyanathan contended that these objects were “not just figures of any human being or animal”.
“They have been interpreted by archaeologists. The findings are based on the interpretation of excavated materials by archaeologists who are trained in the field. Such interpretation should normally be accepted [by the court],” he argued.