The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce a judgment on Thursday on whether to refer the question if a “mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam” in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid appeals to a Constitution Bench.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer had taken up the long-pending Ayodhya land title appeals against the Allahabad High Court judgment of 2010, which ordered the three-way partition of the disputed land.
Chief Justice Misra had in the beginning observed that the appeals would be decided like any other civil suit, shorn of any “religious sentiments” displayed by the parties.
However, as the hearings progressed in the appeals, the Muslim appellants pressed that the place of a mosque in Islam and the importance of the practice of offering prayers inside a mosque should be first decided by a five-judge Bench. They said this question should be answered before the court goes into the main title dispute.
The bone of contention here is an observation made in a 1994 judgment of the Supreme Court in Ismail Farooqui case that “a 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.”
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the Muslim appellants, argued that the observation in the Ismail Farooqui judgment has affected the status of mosques in Islam.
“If the congregation part of Islam is taken away, a large part of Islam goes worthless. Mosques are meant for congregation and prayer,” Mr. Dhavan had argued on why mosques are “essential.”