Supreme Court: When Nirmohi Akhara submitted that being the ‘shebait’ (devotee), only its lawsuit was maintainable and the case filed by deity Ram Lalla Virajman, through next friend Deoki Nandan Agrawal, should not be allowed, the 5-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and SA Bobde, Dr. DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, JJ said that the Akhara is “unnecessarily” opposing the plea of deity Ram Lalla for the title of disputed Ramjanam Bhoomi-Babri Masjid land as both the parties will “stand” or “fall” together. It said,
“There is no conflict between your (Akhara’s) suit and the suit filed by plaintiff number 1 (Ram Lalla)… Even if the suit of plaintiff (deity and others) is allowed, your right as ‘shebait’ stands.”
The bench asked senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for Nirmohi Akhara, that if the lawsuit of the deity was disallowed then for whom will the Akhara be ‘shebait’ of. It said,
“You cannot be the ‘shebait’ of the mosque. If your suit succeeds, it will be adverse to the deity.”
Sushil Jain, however, said the Akhara was not saying anything against the deity and moreover, the law is now well settled that the deity need not be a party in all the lawsuits and can be represented through ‘shebait’. He argued,
“A shebait can maintain the suit on behalf of the deity in its own name and need not implead the deity as a party.”
He submitted that though an idol is certainly a “juristic person”, it is permanently “linked” with the ‘shebait’ which can institute and maintain the lawsuits.
On this the bench said if a third party takes possession of the land of the deity then the ‘shebait’ may institute the lawsuit, but if there was a “vital interest” was involved, then the deity itself can initiate the lawsuits. Jain, however, said that the deity was not required to be made the party as the ‘shebait’ can do the needful. He further argued that the ‘shebait’ is ousted only when it is proved that it was acting against the interest of the deity and here, the Akhara is “claiming relief” for ‘Ram Lalla’ and there was “no conflict of interest”.
A 5-judge bench is conducting a day-to-day hearing in the Ayodhya title dispute case, after it had on August 2 observed that since the mediation panel on Ayodhya matter has failed to achieve any final settlement in the matter, it will hold a day-to-day hearing in the case from August 6.
Fourteen appeals are pending before the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict which ordered equal division of the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The 16th-century Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992.