Law

What Is the Ayodhya-Related Verdict the SC Didn't Refer to a Larger Bench?

In the 1994 case, the apex court had held that namaz could be offered anywhere and that a mosque was not necessary for this. It had also ruled that the government could, therefore, acquire the land that a mosque is built on.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment, linked to the Ayodhya case, does not need to be referred to a larger bench.

In the 1994 case, the apex court had held that namaz could be offered anywhere and that a mosque was not necessary for this. It had also ruled that the government could, therefore, acquire the land that a mosque is built on.

In a majority verdict of 2:1, the apex court said on Thursday the civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence and the previous verdict has no relevance on it.

In the 1994 case, the petitioner, Ismail Faruqui, had challenged the validity of the Acquisition of Certain Area At Ayodhya Act, 1993, under which 67.703 acres were acquired in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex in Ayodhya.

The apex court, upholding the government’s acquisition, had held “any step taken to arrest escalation of communal tension… can, by no stretch of argumentation, be termed non-secular… or against the concept of secularism — a creed of the Indian people embedded in the ethos.”

Declaring that namaz could be offered anywhere, the Supreme Court had said:

“(Mosque) is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open. Accordingly, its acquisition is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India”.

The case was referenced in 2010 in Allahabad high court during a hearing in the Ayudhya land dispute case, when the court apportioned one-third of the land to Hindus, one-third to Muslims and one-third to Lord Ram, the deity.

According to Muslims litigants, this verdict had played a significant role in the disputed land being divided into three parts by the Allahabad high court. Justice Nazeer told agreed that questionable observations in Ismail Faruqui had permeated the 2010 verdict.

The apex court said now the civil suit on land dispute will be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29 as Justice Misra will retire on October 2 as the CJI.

You can read the full text of the 1994 verdict here.