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Ayodhya Dispute: Sunni Board Sees 'Political Motive' in Shia Affidavit

By: Debayan Roy

Edited By: Nitya Thirumalai


Last Updated: August 10, 2017, 09:52 IST

Photo for representation.

Photo for representation.

Sunni Waqf Board says the Shia Board’s affidavit to settle for a mosque in a Muslim-dominated area near the disputed site is non-admissible in the Supreme Court which begins hearing the case from Friday.

New Delhi: After the Shia Central Waqf Board took a back step in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute before the Supreme Court by settling for a mosque in a Muslim-dominated area, the Sunni Waqf Board — the primary party in the case — has lashed out.

It has said that the Shia Board was submitting a “politically motivated affidavit” which had no locus standi and was not the worth the court’s time.

The Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board has urged the Supreme Court to act as a mediator in the Ayodhya case and has suggested that a Ram Temple be built at the disputed site and a mosque in a nearby Muslim-dominated area as a way out of the bitter court battle over the land.

It has cited historical references to Mir Baqi, the person who built the Babri mosque, as being a Shia Muslim and hence the mutawali (caretaker) of the mosque is also the Shia Waqf Board.

However, Zafaryab Jilani, the counsel for the Sunni Waqf Board, told News18 that this stand was never taken before the Allahabad High Court and such an affidavit becomes non-admissible in the apex court.

“Shia Waqf Board was impleaded as a party by the Vishva Hindu Parishad when it filed its suit in 1989. They (Shia Board) have never taken such a stand in the High Court where the case was heard on merits and evidences were submitted. This affidavit can have no legal value as it was not submitted in the High Court and there was no pleading regarding the submissions made,” said Jilani.

He even suggested that prominent members of the Shia community had supported the stand taken by the Sunni Waqf Board and this affidavit meant “nothing”.

“Maulana Kalbe Jawad was one of our witnesses in the case and even Kalbe Sadiq had supported us and it was submitted that a mosque can never be Shia or Sunni and is only a place of worship for Allah,” said Jilani, who was also the counsel for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in the triple talaq case before the Supreme Court.

Jilani told News18 that such an affidavit had a “political motive”.

“This affidavit is just as a result of certain political motives. Waseem Rizvi, chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board, was recently under attack from the state minister of Waqf and an order to remove four of its members was issued. That order was later challenged and dissolved but there was a danger that the Waqf board might be dissolved. Hence, to allay such fears, Rizvi met RSS leader Indresh Kumar on June 15 at Bada Imambara in Lucknow. Thereafter, he also met UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and we believe this affidavit is a result of such meetings,” said Jilani.

Dismissing Jilani’s claim, Waseem Rizvi said the Shia Board was “very much a party to the case” and the affidavit had no political motive.

“These are false allegations and are only being hurled by the ones who have not been able to achieve a solution. The HC verdict had allotted a part (of the land) to the Muslims and has not specified Shia or Sunni, thus we are very much a part of it. The HC had even declared the Sunni Board’s registration in 1949 invalid because there was no entry in the official gazette,” Rizvi said.

“I did meet UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but it was regarding Waqf matters. The meeting with Indresh Kumar happened by chance at an event and was not on the basis of an appointment to discuss a specific subject,” he added.

The Allahabad High Court had in 2010 directed that the Ayodhya site, where the Babri Masjid once stood, be split between Nirmohi Akhara, the Waqf Board and Ram Lalla, who were all claimants.

This order was challenged and the HC direction was stayed. The matter would be heard in the Supreme Court from August 11.

Rizvi also stated that it was the Shia Board’s choice to not file a reply in the High Court and do so in the SC as a notice had been issued to them as a party to the case and they had only replied to that.

“The affidavit is completely valid as we are a party to the case as Respondent No. 25. Yes, the matter was heard in the High Court and at the time we did not say anything. But now, while the matter is coming up for hearing in the SC, we had been issued notices and we have replied to the notice. We are the respondents and hence we have filed a counter-affidavit,” Rizvi told News18.

Rizvi also said that the Shia Board was shocked that Maulana Kalbe Jawad and Kalbe Sadiq were produced as witnesses in the case before the High Court as they did not represent the Shia Waqf Board.

“If the Sunni Waqf Board states that it has produced the statement of Kalbe Jawad and Kalbe Sadiq in the court, then it would be cheating with the judiciary as none of them represent the Shia Waqf Board. They may be great scholars, but that does not mean they represent us,” said Rizvi.

However, All India Shia Personal Law Board told News18 that its stand in the matter is same as that of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Sunni Waqf Board.

Yassob Abbas, Chairman of the All India Shia Personal Law Board, said, “We have not discussed anything about the Shia Waqf Board’s statements. Our stand and policy is the same as that taken by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.”

The counsel for Ram Lalla Virajman, Ranjana Agnihotri, told News18 that the affidavit is baseless as they were not even a party to the case. “This is a frivolous affidavit with no legal status whatsoever. In 1961, the application of the Shia Waqf Board to be impleaded as a party was dismissed and that order was never challenged. How can they suddenly come and claim that the property is theirs?”