Muslim parties retracted their statement in the Supreme Court on Wednesday that 'Ram Chabutara', in the outer courtyard of the disputed site in Ayodhya, is the birthplace of Lord Ram and attacked the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) report which had suggested that the structure pre-existed the Babri Masjid.
They told the top court there was no change in their stand of there being no evidence to suggest that the 2.77 acre of the disputed land was the birthplace of Lord Ram.
They further said that in their submission on Tuesday they had only meant that Muslim parties did not challenge the Faizabad district judge's order of May 18, 1886.
The Muslim parties also attacked 2003 ASI report which had found certain remains, idols and artefacts suggesting existence of a structure before Babri Masjid saying it does not provide a verifiable conclusion and is mostly based on inferences.
However, the apex court said if there was any objection to the ASI report, the contesting parties would have raised it before the high court as there was legal remedy available under the law.
"Whatever, may have been your objections, however, strong it may have been, it cannot be entertained by us," said a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi while referring to the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, which empowers parties to the title suit to make objections to the court commissioner's report.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, was told at the outset by senior advocate Zafaryab Jilani, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, "There is no change in our stand and our stand remains the same that there are no evidences to suggest that the disputed site particularly the 'Ram Chabutra' was the birthplace of Lord Ram."
He further said: "Our stance is that it is their (Hindu parties) belief and the Muslim parties have not challenged the order of May 18, 1886, which had observed that Hindus believes that 'Ram Chabutra' as the birthplace of Lord Ram."
Jilani had on Tuesday conceded the belief that Ayodhya was birth place of Lord Ram is correct and there was no dispute over the 'Ram Chabutara' in the outer courtyard being the birth place after a trial court held so, and no appeal was filed against the order.
Advancing his arguments, Jilani referred to gazetteers of 1828 of Walter Hamilton and said that even these documents do not mention of any belief of the Hindus that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram or of the alleged demolition of temple to build Babri Masjid.
Justice Chandrachud questioned Jilani and said that the report of British Archeologist Patrick Carnegie and two other documents suggest that both Hindus and Muslim used to worship at the Mosque till 1857, when a iron railing was erected to separate them after the riots.
"It is clear from these documents that they (Hindus and Muslim) used to worship together inside the mosque and after an incident of 1857, a iron railing was made to separate them and then a 'Ram Chabutra' was put up for Hindus to offer prayer. These three documents make the entire picture clear," Justice Chandrachud said.
The senior advocate did not agreed with the suggestion of the bench and said that these are all oral evidences and the court had to examine it in totality before accepting them.
"The court cannot take out one sentence and interpret it like this. There has to be some basis. The entire context has to be seen in what manner these evidences are being produced.
"I have shown from the travelogues, gazetteers and other evidences which do not talk about any belief that Central dome of the mosque was the birthplace of Lord Ram," Jilani said.
Hindus first started asserting that the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram after 1865 and went inside the boundary wall, he said.
He also suggested that in 1858, a Sikh had entered the Central dome, had put a flag inside it and refused to come out unless he was physically removed.
Justice Bobde asked Jilani whether Sikhs also worship Lord Ram.
Jilani said that the Hindus don't have a title that Ram Janmbhoomi was inside the mosque and the suits filed by them till 1989 also did not claim so.
"So, the belief does not exist till 1989 that the Janmasthan was under the Central dome of the mosque," he said, adding that forcible placement of idols were done from 'Ram Chabutra' to Central dome and the theory of middle dome started after 2001.
Taking from him the arguments for the Muslim parties, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, made an attempt to trash ASI's report, prepared on orders of Allahabad high court by saying that it has errors and contradictions and can at most be treated as an opinion of experts.
"The report suffers from palpable, apparent inconsistencies," she said, adding that it does not provide 'verifiable conclusion and is based on inferences'.
Referring to Faizabad judge's order of 1886, Arora said the court had refused to allow Mahant Raghubar Das to build a temple at the disputed site saying demolition of temple had taken place 356 years ago and now its too late to grant any remedy and the best that could be done was status quo.
Arora said Jilani had accidentally made the statement that 'Ram Chabutra' was the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The Allahabad high court, in its judgment of 2010 on four civil lawsuits, had partitioned the 2.77-acre disputed land equally among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict.