Muslim respondents in the Ayodhya case contended today that there was no claim for the title in the Ayodhya land by the Hindus until 1989 and want the restoration of Babri Masjid as it stood before demolition in 1992. "We are entitled to restoration of the building as it stood as on 5-12-1992," the petitioners told the court.
The Muslims never lost the title and the claim of title by Hindus in 1886 was denied, the petitioners led by the Sunni Wakf Board maintained at the 38th day's hearing in the Ayodhya title suit at the Supreme Court.
Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge bench hearing the case, disagreed, saying, "The possession of the outer courtyard with them (the Hindus) continuously and documents show that".
"Hindus can't claim the outer courtyard. All facts show the Hindus have the right to pray and not possession," argued Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing the Muslim petitioners.
When Justice Chandrachud suggested that evidence shows bairagis (mendicants) were staying at the outer courtyard and "there were complaints from your side", Mr Dhavan said, "All questions are directed to us (Muslim side) only and not to the other (Hindu) side".
His outburst got the lawyer representing Ram Lalla -- the deity infant Ram -- protesting. "Such comments are unwarranted," said advocate CS Vaidyanthan.
Hearing in the politically sensitive case entered its final stage today, with the judges being determined to wrap up the arguments by October 17. Chief Justice Gogoi - who is heading the five-judge constitution bench hearing the case -- retires on November 17 and unless the court reaches a decision before that, the whole process will begin again.
The bench had started the day-to-day hearings on August 6 after the mediation proceedings suggested by the court failed to find an amicable solution to the decades-old dispute.
The dispute involves 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, which right-wing activists believe was the birthplace of the Lord Ram. A 16th Century mosque - said to have been built by the Mughal Emperor Babur -- which stood at the spot was razed in December 1992 by right-wing activists who believed that a temple had to make way for it.