Hearings on Ayodhya title suit to resume, decides SC

Plea to refer issue to larger Bench rejectedNew three-judge Bench to be constitutedHasty decision, says dissenting judgment
A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority opinion of 3:1 on Thursday, declined 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 seven-judge Bench. The majority view by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan ordered that the hearing in the main Ayodhya title suit appeals should resume in the week commencing from October 29. With Chief Justice Misra retiring on October 2, a new three-judge Bench would be constituted.
On 1994 judgment
The bone of contention here is an observation made by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the 1994 judgment in the Ismail Faruqui case. It had stated 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”. Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, in a stinging dissent, observed that the question of what is essential or not in a religion cannot be hastily decided. He held that the question raised on the essentiality of offering prayers in mosques should indeed be examined by a seven-judge Bench before the Ayodhya suit appeals are heard. Justice Nazeer said the questions raised during the Ayodhya appeals’ hearing about the comment made in the Ismail Faruqui judgment require a “comprehensive examination” by a seven-judge Bench.
Fundamental rights
What is essential or not in a religion can be decided only after studying tenets, beliefs, and doctrines. Justice Nazeer held that the comment has to be examined in the background of the fundamental right against discrimination under Article 15 and the protection guaranteed to practice, profess and propagate religion in Articles 25 and 26 under the Constitution. As the hearings progressed in the appeals, the Muslim appellants had 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.
Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/hearings-on-ayodhya-title-suit-to-resume-decides-sc/article25063716.ece

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