The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought evidence of possession of Ramjanmabhumi from Nirmohi Akhara, one of the parties in the Ayodhya title dispute case, after the Hindu body contended that it had lost the records in a dacoity in 1982.
Senior advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, appearing for the Akhara, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the obstruction to worship and prayer is what forced them to file the civil suits.
"Not just my right of possession but my right of management has also been taken away," he contended.
"There are some property rights which the Shebiat (temple custodian-priest) enjoys. It is not just office but proprietary rights are blended with it. These Shebiats are more than mere managers. They also have proprietary rights," he added.
The Supreme Court clarified that Section 142 of the Limitation Act speaks of possession of the immovable property but does not talk about management and hence the possession of property and management of worship are two different things.
Yesterday, Akhara had told the top court that Muslims were not allowed to enter the temple gate since 1934 and it is in their possession since then.
Jain told the court that the suit was filed by his client for possession and management rights.
The counsel asserted that the inner courtyard, which includes Sita Rasoi, Bhandar Grih and a place known as "Janamasthan" are in the possession of the Akhara.
He further contended that the claim over the disputed land was filed by the Akhara in 1934, whereas Sunni Waqf Board filed the suit in 1961.
A five-judge constitution bench is conducting a day-to-day hearing in the Ayodhya title dispute case.
Earlier on August 2, the top court had observed that the mediation panel on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute failed to achieve an amicable settlement and decided to hold day-to-day hearings in the decades-old 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.
( With inputs from ANI )