Week 6 in Ayodhya

Week 6 saw Sr. Adv. Rajeev Dhavan and Sr. Adv. Jilani continued their arguments for the Sunni Waqf Board

As the Ayodhya title dispute hearings enter the seventh week, we bring you the highlights of the proceedings from the week gone-by. For a quick update on the proceedings of the previous weeks, see: weeks 12345789 or 10)

Week 6 saw Sr. Adv. Rajeev Dhavan continue his arguments for the Sunni Waqf Board, primarily devoting them to the maintainability of the Nirmohi Akhara’s suit and its claims on possession. In addition, Sr. Adv. Jilani advanced his arguments for the Waqf Board, focusing primarily on establishing the existence of the mosque in the disputed property.

No continuous wrong suffered

Sr. Adv. Dhavan refuted Nirmohi Akhara’s argument that it had suffered a continuous wrong and that hence its suit (original suit number 3) was maintainable. He submitted that this argument was premised on the assumption that the Akhara was in possession of the site, which it was not. He stated that the Akhara was only in possession of the site for roughly ten days, after the Hindu idols from the outer courtyard were illegally placed under the central dome where the mosque was (inner courtyard). He questioned how the Akhara could base its argument on ‘continuous wrong’ on an illegal act.

No possession established

On the question of possession too, Sr. Adv. Dhavan argued that the Akhara had failed to establish its claim. In so far as the Akhara’s emphasis on adverse possession was concerned, he reiterated that the Akhara possessed the inner courtyard only between the time when the idols were placed there and the State took custody of it, i.e., between December 22nd 1949 and January 5th 1950. He also emphasized how the Akhara had failed to establish adverse possession in its pleadings and show specific times/dates to that effect.

Acknowledgment of Shebaitship

Sr. Adv. Rajeev Dhavan stated that the Sunni Waqf Board recognised the Nirmohi Akhara’s shebaitship (management) rights over the outer courtyard. However, he submitted that the evidence only validates the Akhara’s shebaitship for the period between 1858 and 1959.

Sr. Adv. Dhavan emphasised that the Akhara would not lose its shebaitship, even if its suit is barred by limitation. Referring to the Allahabad High Court judgment, he submitted that no party has controverted the Akhara’s shebaitship claim and that its Mahant has always performed pooja in the outer courtyard. He argued that since the Akhara had the right to manage the deity, it followed that the Akhara should represent the deity in court and not its ‘next friend’, as claimed by DN Agarwal in his suit.

Evidence of mosque’s presence

Sr. Adv.Jilani referred to a number of documents to assert the existence of a mosque at the disputed property, including those relating to the payment of an Imam and a decree in a 1942 suit between two Nirmohis.