New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to refer the Ayodhya land dispute case to a larger five-judge bench and said that all places of worship are equally important.
A three-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer had a 2:1 deadlock with only Justice Nazeer saying that the matter should be referred to a larger bench. However, a majority ensures otherwise. "Mosques aren’t immune from acquisitions. Temples, mosques, churches are equally relevant. A place of particular significance for practising religion has a different place in law. Issues, in this case, are entirely different," observed Justice Bhushan, on behalf of himself and the CJI.
The majority opinion expressed by Justice Bhushan and CJI Misra clarified that the observations in paragraph 52 of Ismail Faruqi judgment that mosque was not an integral part of Islam have to be understood in the context of land acquisition proceedings. Ismail Faruqui had held that a religious place cannot claim immunity from compulsory acquisition, and the observations regarding mosque were made in that context.
Muslim groups had filed a bunch of pleas seeking reconsideration by a larger bench of the observations made by the apex court in a 1994 verdict which had said that a mosque is not integral to Islam. Muslim groups had argued that the "sweeping" observation of the apex court in the verdict needed to be reconsidered by a five-judge bench as "it had and will have a bearing" on the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case.
On Thursday though, Supreme Court said that reading of namaz in a mosque is not integral to Islam and can be done anywhere.
Now, the decks are cleared for Supreme Court to begin hearing Ayodhya matter from October 29 of this year.