Ayodhya verdict: SC orders setting up trust for temple, separate land to Muslims

The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered setting up of a trust that would eventually pave the way for construction of a temple in Ayodhya at the disputed site where a 16th century Babri Masjid was razed by a Hindu mob on December 6, 1992. The five-judge bench also ordered allotment of 5-acre land to Muslims for construction of a mosque. This brings to an end an almost 70-year dispute that has divided Muslims and Hindus.

The Hindus have maintained that the mosque was built atop a temple that Mughal emperor Babar’s men had demolished. They claim the site was the birthplace of Ram, the most worshipped deity of the Hindus.

The landmark judgement was delivered a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.

The court said that the underlying structure can’t be dismissed and that Babri Masjid wasn’t constructed on a vacant land.

The Shia Waqf Board’s claim on the Babri Masjid has been unanimously dismissed and the Nirmohi Akhara has also suffered a setback. The bench ruled that the Nirmohi Akhara suit is barred by limitations and said the Akhara isn’t a shebait.

The Chief Justice of India started reading the judgement at 10:30 am. The court dismissed the suit by Nirmohi Akhara. 

The court said that it is basing the judgement on the finding submitted by the Archeological survey of India. The CJI said that according to ASI the mosque was not built on an empty land. 

The Supreme Court conducted a marathon hearing for 40 days before reserving its verdict for the decades old Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi title dispute case.

The apex court began the daily hearings on appeals filed against the Judgement given by the Allahabad high court in 2010 that advised to trifurcate the disputed land. 

There were three main parties to the dispute. The Nirmohi Akhara, a religious denomination, had sought directions to construct a Ram temple on the disputed land in Ayodhya and wanted the management rights of the premises to be given to it. Ram Lalla (or the infant Ram), represented by the Hindu Mahasabha, wanted the entire land to be handed over to them, with no part going to Muslim parties or the Nirmohi Akhara.

The Sunni Waqf Board, which looks after religious properties, had demanded that the Babri Masjid be restored to the form that existed before it was brought down by the Hindu groups. Fourteen appeals had been filed before the SC against a 2010 Allahabad high court judgment, which had said that the disputed 22.7 acres should be equally divided among the three litigants.

Post independence, the case first came to light when the idol of Ram Lalla were found inside Babri Masjid in 1949. There were several pleas in the court along with years of Ram Janam Bhoomi Andolan that eventually led to the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.  

The conflict goes back to 1885 and even during the British colonial time there have been claims for the land.