Bringing down curtains on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, one of the longest running title disputes in India, the Supreme Court has given the entire disputed 2.77-acre land to the Hindu parties with a trust to be formed by the Centre within three months to monitor the construction of a Ram Temple. The Sunni Waqf Board will be given 5 acres of alternate land, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled in the unanimous verdict. The Nirmohi Akhara also suffered a setback with the court saying it is not a ‘shebait’ or devotee of the deity Ram Lalla. The CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led bench of Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said the Akhara’s suit was barred by limitation.
The Ayodhya title suit verdict came nine years after the 2:1 judgment of the Allahabad High Court that ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of land between the three parties — Ram Lalla, Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara. The Lucknow Bench had ruled that Hindus and Muslims would be joint title holders of the disputed land.
Top 10 updates on the Ayodhya verdict:
- The Sunni Waqf Board will be given a five-acre “suitable” plot to build a new mosque. This was necessary because the court “must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied,” the judges said, adding that “tolerance and mutual co-existence nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people”. A trust or board run by the governmentshould be formed within three months for the building of a temple, said the court.
- The Ayodhya verdictcomes after a century-old legal wrangle over the land where the 16th century Babri mosque stood before it was razed by Hindu activists who believe it is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The mosque demolition was a violation of the law, the Supreme Court said.
- However, Hindu petitioners had established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard at the site and the Sunni Waqf Board had failed to establish its case, the judges ruled.
- While delivering the Ayodhya verdict, the judges referred to a report by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), which they said confirmed that a structure existed underneath the mosque but did not specify whether it was a temple.
- The faith of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the site of the demolished structure is undisputed, the court said, and the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are testimony to the religious fact of the place.However, the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute, said the five judges.
- “It is time for healing. It is big relief that we did our duty entrusted on us,” one of the judges told after the historic verdict. The five-judge constitution benchheard the case for 40 days. The other members of the bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
- There have been appeals for peace and heightened security across the country because of the verdict, which had to be delivered before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17.
- In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said the “The temple of justice resolved the decades-old case amicably”, adding that the verdict will “reaffirm people’s faith in judicial process”. He also appealed for peace and unity.
- In 1992, rightwing activists tore down the Babri mosque which they believed was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of the Lord Ram. In the riots that followed, more than 2,000 people were killed.
- An Allahabad High Court verdict prescribing a three-way division of the disputed land in September 2010 failed to satisfy the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla, the parties involved in the dispute. All three moved the Supreme Court.