New Delhi, Sep 19: The Muslim parties termed as "conjecture" the Supreme Court's observation that the Hindus believed in some divinity in the central dome of the disputed structure at Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site which made them offer prayers at the railings put up by the British in 1855.
The 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was scrutinising the vehement submission of the Muslim parties that Hindu worshippers never had access to the central dome and used to offer prayers at the railings.
The bench asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Muslim parties, that "maybe the 'Ram Chabutara' was the creation of 1885, but it coincides with the setting up of the railing (prohibiting entry of Hindus into the inner courtyard).
"Why Ram Chabutara was set up in the close proximity of the railing. Hindus believed of some divinity in the central dome and this is the reason they were praying at the railing."
Dhavan then said in a raised voice, "This is just a conjecture of My Lords." He later apologised for the comment.
The bench had asked him "whether the Hindus were praying at the railings with the belief that the birthplace of the deity was under the central dome".
The Allahabad High Court had given one-third area, including the Central dome of the now-demolished structure, to deity 'Ram Lalla' after holding that it was the birthplace.
The top court questioned Dhavan, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board and others including original litigant M Siddiq, about the proximity of 'Ram Chabutara' with the railings near the central dome.
The bench, hearing the politically sensitive case on the 26th day, said that before putting up of the railings in the 1850s both community members were going inside, and the presence of 'Ram Chabutara' so close to the railing has got some "significance" because Hindus might be praying there believing the central dome to be the birthplace.
"Why do people go near the railings. They go there because they believed that it (central dome) was the birthplace... There was oral evidence that Hindus prayed at the railings," the unnerved bench sought to know from Dhavan after his high pitched reaction.
The senior advocate replied: "I will go near the railings out of curiosity... They (Hindus) might have been going there to destroy the place", because a very tense situation had been prevailing there for quite long time.
There was "no evidence" on record that the Hindus prayed at the railing, he said.
"I am sorry for using the word conjecture," the senior lawyer later told the bench and added, "you become more aggressive when you are tired".
The bench shot back, "if you are tired then we can wrap up the day's hearing".
Then bench then sought details of all the evidence with regard to the railings at the disputed site.
The railings were raised in the 1850s by the Britishers following the communal flare-up between the two communities and later, Hindus were allowed entry in the outer courtyards only, the lawyer said.
At the outset, Dhavan again dealt with the report of historians R S Sharma, M Athar Ali, D N Jha and Suraj Bhan on the Ayodhya dispute and assailed the HC verdict saying that it did not consider the report.
The report had stated that the site where Babri Masjid stood could not have been the birthplace of Lord Ram, he said, adding it was not considered because one of the historians, D N Jha, did not sign it.
The bench again said that the 1991 report of historians "at the highest" was an "opinion" and moreover, the historians were never examined.
Dhavan referred to the testimonies of various witnesses and gazetteers of many travellers to drive home the point that there was Babri mosque at the disputed site and the Hindu parties failed to prove the place under the central dome was the exact birthplace of Lord Ram.
He trashed the views of British traveller Hans Baker and P Carnegi who had said that the mosque was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple and said that there were the "figment of their imagination".
"No travellers and gazetteers mentioned that the birthplace of Lord Ram was under the central dome of the structure," Dhavan said.
There should be "gradation" of the documents and an equal amount of reliance cannot be placed on official records and the accounts of travellers and gazetteers.
He said that various Hindu witnesses have said that the idols were placed inside the central dome in December 1949 as against their claim that they were there since time immemorial.
The bench would resume hearing on today.
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.