Muslims Challenge SC’s ‘Mosque Has No Unique Status’ Ruling 

New Delhi—Nearly 24 years after the Supreme Court said a mosque has no “unique or special status” and was not an essential part of the practice of Islam and namaz, Muslim parties involved in the Ramjanmabhoomi title dispute wants the apex court to first re-consider its stand before going ahead with the hearing in the Babri Masjid case.

In 1994, the Supreme Court observed that “Muslims can offer prayer anywhere, even in open”.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, on behalf of the Muslim parties, challenged the rationale of the 1994 ruling before a three-judge Special Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday. This Bench is hearing the over 70-year-old civil appeals against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment for a three-way partition of the Babri Masjid site.

 “Who will decide that this place of worship is more significant than another? All are equal. All places are of equal signficance,” Dhavan argued.

He challenged the right of the government to have acquired the disputed site under the 1993 law. He submitted that it was impossible believe that the Babri Masjid, built in 1528 and a subject of grants by Mughal emperors and even the British, had no significance at all to Islam.

Dhavan said the court cannot ask Muslims to pray in the open after deciding that mosques are not an essential part of Islam. A mosque does not cease to be a place of worship merely because it has been demolished, he submitted.

 “It is, for all time to come, the property of Allah. A mosque is a mosque forever. Demolition cannot rob it of its religious significance... Ever since Islam became a faith, they have been building mosques,” Mr. Dhavan argued.

The 24-year-old Ismail Faruqui versus Union of India case dealt with the acquisition of 67.703 acres of land in Ayodhya after the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. The constitutionality of the'Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act of 1993' was under scanner.

The government justified the acquisition as a step to promote harmony. But the Muslim parties suspected the 1993 law as a veiled attempt to “perpetuate the consequences of the demolition of the mosque”.

It was in this background that the Supreme Court observed in 1994 thata mosque cannot restrict the State's sovereign power to acquire land foran “undoubted national purpose”. Moreover, the Supreme Court went on to distinguish between places of worship with “particular significance”, which have to be treated reverentially. The others were classified as "ordinary places of worship", subject to acquisition.

Besides, the Ismail Faruqui order said that places of worship having particular significance should be considered as an “essential or integral part of the religion”.

He said it was illogical to compare the significance of two places of worship.

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