Ayodhya verdict: A summary [Final judgment attached]

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Background

The Babri Masjid was a mosque that was built in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh around 1528-29 CE by Mir Baqi on the orders of the then Mughal emperor Babur. It was contended by the Hindu community of that area that the mosque was developed by demolishing a structure that marked the birthplace of Lord Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and a very important deity for the Hindu community). The first recorded dispute on this Ayodhya was in the year 1853 when during the British Raj both the communities claimed their title over the land over Ayodhya. The Britishers solved the issue temporarily by giving separate areas to both Hindus and Muslims to carry out their religious practices, i.e., the Hindus were given the outer area and the Muslims were given the inner area for carrying out their respective religious practices.

Post-Independence Situation 

Both the communities were not satisfied and there prevailed anguish in their hearts relating to the Ramjanm Bhoomi. They felt dispossessed and had a strong will to get back what was theirs. A campaign was launched in the year 1984 with the motive to remove the mosque and develop a temple on that land. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), was a major supporter of the campaign. In the year 1990, a Ram Rath Yatra was organised by L.K. Advani then president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to support the agitation started by the VHP. The yatra had the desired effect on people as it gave rise to an outpour of both religious and militant sentiments among the Hindus and Muslims. It was the result of the heightened sentiments among the Hindus after the Yath ratra that in a rally organized by the VHP and BJP volunteers on the 6th of December,1992 which ultimately led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The demolition of the Babri masjid sparked the Muslim community’s sentiment and thereby provoking several months of communal riots in the country where both the communities attacked each other, burnt and looted houses, shops and places of worship.

The Parties to the Dispute

The Babri Masjid issue is not as simple as it is seen by the public. More than just Hindu-Muslim rivalry over the disputed piece of land there are several parties that are involved in the case with different contentions.

  1. The first and foremost party to the suit was Gopal Singh Visharad, a Hindu worshipper seeking a declaration that according to his religion and custom, he is entitled to offer prayers at the main Janm Bhumi temple near the idols. It was he who filed the suit first in the year 1952. After his death his son, Rajendra Singh has been representing him in the case.
  2. Secondly, there was Nirmohi Akhara, a religious sect among the Hindus who claimed that they were, at all material times, in charge and management of the structure at the disputed site which according to them was a ‘temple’ until 29 December 1949. Their main claim in the suit was to be in charge of the management of the temple’s affairs and receive offerings from devotees.
  3. The next party in the suit was the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf (Sunni Central Waqf Board) and other Muslim residents of Ayodhya who filed a suit in 1961 for a declaration of their title to the disputed site. They claimed that there existed a mosque on the disputed site and they wanted the court to give them the title of the disputed land and if necessary hand them over the possession of the land as well.
  4. The twist, in this case, was that a deity was also a party to the suit. A friend on behalf of the deity ‘Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman’ and the birth-place of Lord Rama known as Ram Janm Bhoomi filed the suit pleading that the disputed site was the birth-place of Lord Rama hence the title of possession should be in his name. This suit was filed on the basis that our Indian law recognizes both the idol and the birth-place as juridical entities.
  5. There also existed a dispute between the Sunni Waqf Board and the Shia Waqf Board as the Shia Waqf Board claimed that the Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi who was a Shia Muslim. In the Shia Waqf Board’s record, the Babri Masjid is named as ‘Masjif Mir Baqi’, which was under their control until 1944 and thus, they challenged the High Court judgement which gave the possession of the land to the Sunni Waqf Board when according to them it should be given to the Shia Waqf Board.

With these parties in the Ayodhya dispute, each claiming something or other from the Court, it was a difficult task for the Court to come to a balanced verdict. The case was first under the jurisdiction of the Allahabad High Court and then under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. It was only on the 9th of November, 2019 that this issue came to a conclusion with the final verdict of the Supreme Court on the issue.

Allahabad High Court’s Take on the Ayodhya Dispute

With the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a suit was filed in the Allahabad High Court to end this issue in 1992, but not until 2010 was the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court able to give a decision on the Ayodhya dispute. It was held that in the High Court’s decision that all the three parties to the case i.e. the Hindu parties, the Muslim parties, and the Nirmohi Akhara each would be given one-third of the disputed land. The Hindu parties were given the area of land in front of the central dome of the mosque where the Hindu idol has been kept, Nirmoi Akhara was entitled to the outer courtyard area and the Muslim parties were to be given some part of both the inner and the outer area of land comprising their one-third area of the land. Though the land was distributed equally to all the three parties, the judges held a differentiated take on the issue as whether the masjid was constructed by demolishing a Hindu structure or not and in the religious purview who had the rightful possession of the disputed land. Thus, all three parties eventually moved to the Supreme Court to find a suitable solution to the dispute. 

Supreme Court’s Verdict on Ayodhya Dispute

The issue that revolved around some 1500 square yards of land in the city of Ayodhya more commonly known as “Ram Janm Bhoomi” and was a dispute between the two major religious groups of the country i.e. Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus claimed that the land belonged to them and it is the birthplace of Lord Rama, whereas the Muslims were claiming that the land was theirs as the famous Babri Masjid built by the first Muslim ruler Babur was situated on the land. The dispute in the appeals made by the parties, in this case, arises out of four regular suits which were instituted between 1950 and 1989.

This suit was an appeal, in which the Allahabad’s High Court decision was questioned as the parties were not satisfied. Against the claim of the Hindus that the disputed land was the birthplace of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and there existed a temple that was demolished by the Muslims to construct a mosque, the Muslims said that even on this assumption of the Hindus the land would belong to them on the basis of Adversary title (If someone has possession of the property for a continuous period of 20 years he gets the title of such property and becomes its rightful owner) The whole issue revolves around the Muslims’ claim of it to be a mosque while Nirmohi Akhara claiming it to be a temple under its charge and management.

The constitutional bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi started the hearings on a day-to-day basis from the 6th of August,2019 when the mediation panel set by the Supreme Court consisting judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu were unable to resolve the issue amicably. The hearings came to an end on the 16th of October,2019 which made it the second-longest case to be heard by the Supreme Court after the famous Kesavananda Bharati case.

Final Verdict of the Supreme Court

The unanimous Ram Mandir judgement was delivered by the constitutional bench headed by CJI Mr Ranjan Gogoi, a decade long issue was finally adjudged on November 9, 2019. The Ram Mandir issue got its judgement, one of the most striking features of the judgement was that it was a unanimous one i.e. all the justices gave the same judgement. The honourable Supreme Court after a 40 days land of case hearings and case proceedings came to a judgement which was very well thought upon and backed by proper facts and evidence. The major help provided to the Supreme Court to come on the judgement was the Archaeological Survey of India. 

The following points sum up the judgement given by the Supreme Court

The Muslims cannot claim the disputed land on the basis of Adversary Title as there is no conclusive proof that they were in the possession of the land for a continuous 20 years.

  1. On the basis of ASI’s findings Hindu religious remains, it was held that there had been a temple and the place could be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Though it was not confirmed whether the temple was demolished to construct the mosque or not, it was confirmed that the land belonged to the Hindus.
  2. The disputed land of 2.77 acres was thus given to the Hindus to construct a temple. On the other hand, Muslims would be given 5 acres of land in Ayodhya at some prominent place to build a mosque.
  3. Lastly, the Supreme Court directed Centre to formulate a scheme for forming a trust within 3 months for the construction of a temple at the site. The land must be handed over to the trust. Till the Trust is formed, the ownership of the site will rest with the Centre.

High Court’s Judgement v/s Supreme Court’s Judgement

There is a vast difference between the Ayodhya judgement given by the Allahabad High Court in 2010 and the judgement given by the Supreme Court in 2019. After a long period of judicial proceedings, the Supreme Court finally came to a verdict. In contrast to the equal distribution of the disputed land among the three contending parties as per the High Court, the Supreme Court gave the entire disputed land to the Hindus, the Muslims were to be allotted 5 acres of land somewhere else at a prominent place in Ayodhya whereas the Nirmohi Akhara’s claim to the land was rejected entirely. 

Ayodhya Verdict – A balanced judgement

It was feared by the people as to what would be the final judgement on the Ayodhya dispute as there had been years of dispute and no final verdict had come to the forefront which was accepted to all the parties. But the Supreme Court in its striking verdict on the 9th of November,2019 did something which was not expected by the people. The verdict given by the Supreme Court was a win-win situation for everyone. As it was a unanimous decision it gave a greater sense of judicial equality being practised. It was a balanced judgement, the Hindus were given the disputed land to build their temple and the Muslims were given additional land to build the mosque. In this manner, both the communities were provided with things that would satisfy them thus upholding the religious sentiments of both the communities.

Conclusion

With this, a long issue of India came to an end but the real question is, has it really come to an end? Whether to solve such a long and serious dispute is so easy? The coming time will tell what this Ayodhya judgement has brought with it. Whether what is seen as an amicable and peaceful atmosphere now, would maintain its character or there is anguish, contempt and anger boiling up in people’s hearts that will come to the forefront in the near future. Though precautionary measures have been taken by imposing Section 144 in many places and people everywhere are on high alert but there exists a lingering sense of fear in every single person. This issue has already claimed multiple lives and disrupted the peace and tranquillity of our nation many times, now is the time to stand together and put this issue behind us.

Read the SC’s 2019 final verdict here

Read the Allahabad HC’s 2010 Judgement here


Shatakshi Kakkar

Author

Shatakshi is a very bright and versatile writer. She is very good at art & craft and loves to do embroidery work. She is an ambitious personality and has a great intellect in the field of law. She is an ambivert and optimistic person.



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