From the 'Purans' written by sages to travelogues of an English trader, a missionary and a physician, the counsel for deity 'Ram Lalla' cited them all in the Supreme Court on Wednesday to buttress claims that Hindus have long believed Ayodhya to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.
'Ram Lalla', a party in the decades-old Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, informed the top court through its counsel that all the relevant historical material available shows the faith and belief of Hindus that Ayodhya was 'janamsthan' (birthplace) of Lord Ram and that there was a temple at the disputed site.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for 'Ram Lalla', that various historical texts recorded the faith and belief of Hindus about Lord Ram's birthplace.
- Muslim party lawyer Rajeev Dhavan sacked in Ayodhya case, ends on contentious note
- Ayodhya verdict: Legal heir of Muslim litigant files review plea
- After Ayodhya, Subramanian Swamy shifts focus to Kashi, Mathura disputes
- Ayodhya dispute: Sunni Waqf Board to not file review petition against SC verdict
"What is significant in these publications is the way faith and belief of Hindus in Lord Ram and Ayodhya has been perceived. This faith and belief of Hindus has remained in the past and has continued as recorded in various books. If this is belief of the people then the land can't be bisected or trisected," Vaidyanathan told the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
Referring to a travelogue written by English merchant William Finch, who had visited India in 1608-11, Vaidynathan told the bench that he has recorded that there was a fort or a castle in Ayodhya which Hindus believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.
"A book written by William Foster -- Early Travels in India (1583-1619) -- has a travelogue written by William Finch, who had travelled during the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir. He has recorded about the presence of forts or castle in Ayodhya and belief of Hindus that it was the birthplace of Lord Ram," Vaidyanathan said.
He also referred to the account of missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, who travelled to India between 1740 and 1765.
"Tiefenthaler has written in his travelogue that Hindus believed that the ancient city of Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Rama and a mosque was built on the ruins of temple", he said.
Vaidyanathan referred to other travelogues, including those written by British surveyor Montgomery Martin and a scottish Physician Francis Buchnan who had travelled to India in 1807-1814.
"Persistent pilgrimage and devotees shows the faith and belief of the people on the place, which is called Janamsthan," he said.
The bench then asked Vaidyanathan about the structure. "When it was first called Babri Masjid?".
Responding to the query, he said: "In the 19th century. There is no document available to show that earlier (prior to 19th century) it was known as Babri Masjid."
To this, the bench asked, "Is the 'Baburnama' (memoirs of Mughal ruler Babur) totally silent on this?".
When Vaidyanathan said that 'Baburnama' is silent on this, the bench said, "What is the objective evidence available that Babur directed for its (temple) demolition?".
To this, the senior counsel said Babur had asked his general to demolish the structure.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, objected to Vaidyanathan's submission about 'Baburnama' being silent about Babur's visit to Ayodhya.
Dhavan said that 'Baburnama' mentions Babur crossing the river to Ayodhya and some of its pages are missing.
During the arguments, Vaidyanathan said that there were two versions -- one about demolition of the temple by Babur and other about its demolition by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb -- but the inscription in the mosque suggested that Babur constructed the three dome structure at the disputed site.
The senior advocate also relied upon the research of culture historian Hans T Bakker and said it is a well conducted study which deals with various excavation works and findings that there existed a temple.
Vaidyanathan said there is archaeological evidence to show that there was temple and if the mosque was built on the ruins of the temple, then it is not a valid mosque.
The bench said that in 1945, a suit was filed by Shia Wakf Board in which a averment was made that Mir Baqi has constructed a beautiful mosque on the ruins of a temple.
The bench asked Sunni Waqf Board, "Do you agree with the averment made by the Shia Waqf Board in its suit or you dispute it?"
Dhavan, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board said that Shia Waqf Board suit was dismissed in 1946 and in 2017 it had filed an appeal against that order and saying the disputed property should be given to the Hindus.
"There has been a conflict between Shia and Sunnis. Whether the mosque was built on the ruins of temple or not is a theological question and the issue does not matter," he said.
The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on August 16.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and 'Ram Lalla Virajman'.