They questioned a line in the 1994 Supreme Court judgment in the Ismail Farooqui case, which said Muslims can pray “anywhere, even in the open.” They have argued that Islam would collapse without its mosques to congregate and pray. Mr. Mehta had wondered why the appellants had raised this question eight years after the Ayodhya case came to the Supreme Court in 2010. He submitted that there was something “inherently wrong” with the request.

Lashing out, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, representing the appellants, said Mr. Mehta’s remarks were “uncalled for.”

“The non-neutrality of the officer of the State is evident… They have accused one party of lack of bona fide… this is impermissible and a breach of faith,” Mr. Dhavan submitted.

He pointed out that the ASG was a law officer of the Centre, which is in fact the ‘Statutory Receiver’ of the area in dispute under the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act of 1993 and thus should have maintained a neutral stance.

Mr. Dhawan brushed aside the position taken by Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi to settle for a new mosque in a “Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Sri Ram”. “I do not even want to respond to these submissions,” Mr. Dhavan said.

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