Historic Ayodhya verdict is stellar in its entirety. A decade long unsettled political and communal land dispute was finally decided on Nov 9, 2019, in a unanimous judgement by the 5-judge bench of the Apex Court. This was the first that a civil dispute was judged by a constitutional bench than 2 judge bench. Thereafter again first in its nature where verdict didn’t carry the name of the authors, then it was read out in the open court by the CJI and not the lead author. The judges were keen to speak in one voice to the nation on such an important issue and decided not to disclose the names. Thirdly, the 929-page verdict was accompanied by a 116-page unsigned “addendum”.This addendum weighed in faith and belief of the Hindus to decide in their favour.
‘Treta Yuga’ is a room under a dome, located at the centre of the Babri Masjid. It has been believed over the years that Lord Ram was born in that room thousands of years back.
It was built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Babur in 16th Century. It was locally believed that Babur’s Generals demolished a temple that existed in that site before the Masjid was constructed.
Many academicians also have argued that local traditions, tales and other beliefs should not be taken into consideration while a decision was made with regards to important matters of land acquisition like this.
The Masjid was unlawfully demolished by the Kar Sevaks in December 1992, based on the abovementioned local belief.
The local belief regarding Lord Ram’s birthplace, was upheld by a 3-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court in 2010. The High Court ordered an equal partition of the site occupied by the Masjid.
In the subsequent year, upon appeals by the Sunni Waqf Board and multiple other parties to the case appealed to the Supreme Court Allahabad High Court’s order was subsequently stayed.
It was fixed by the end of 2017 that February, 2018 would mark the commencement of the final hearing on this case. Another interesting aspect of the case was the importance it laid on documents in Persian and Arabic from the 16th century which proved to be the few sources of information with regards to the occupants of the site which has been a topic of dispute for more than 2 decades now.
Charting a Timeline :
PARTIES TO THE DISPUTE:
The three main litigants in the case were the Nirmohi Akhara sect (a religious denomination), the Sunni Wakf Board and the RamlallaVirajman.
16th Century- Construction of Babri Masjid
1994- In the year 1994, there was a contention raised before with regards to the acquisition of land in and around Babri Masjid. It was also subsequently ruled by the apex court that mosques were not essential or integral to Islamic religious practices. It was also added that Namaz could be offered even in the open and that it was not necessary that it had to be in a mosque.
2010- It was decided by the Allahabad High Court in a 2010 ruling that the land was to be divided into 3 parts and this was done in a bid to settle this land title dispute case. However, this decision was not welcomed by the parties involved in the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid case and hence was further appealed before the Supreme Court to reach finality with regards to the issue at hand. This appeal before the Supreme Court was heard by a 3-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dipak Misra and the issues discussed in the 1994 ruling, sprout up, once again.
The Appellant parties to the case requested the case to be referred to a larger bench in order to reconsider the 1994 ruling. However, this request was not taken into consideration and was refused by the Supreme Court. In support to this stand taken by the Supreme Court, they mentioned that the 1994 ruling was not to influence the land title dispute as the later was mainly in the context of acquisition of the land and nothing more.
It is also found that the proposal to build a Ram Mandir at the Ayodhya site was an important promise made by the BJP in their election manifesto. Whatever the decision of the Supreme Court was to be, it was predicted that it would be quite decisive in either providing or not providing sufficient support to the building of the Ram Mandir at the specified site.
The Government had recently initiated mediation proceedings to look into the matters concerning the Ayodhya land dispute. It was headed by former Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla and bore no result even after the end of four months of mediation. Due to this, a 5-judge bench was constituted headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi to listen to the matters concerning this dispute, on a day-to-day basis. An amicable resolution was sought for by the courts earlier on and due to its failure resulting in no final settlement, it was upon the apex court to take matters of this sensitive case into their own hands and sort it out as soon as the circumstances would allow them.
THE FINAL DECISION:
On November 9, 2019, the constitutional bench of Supreme Court gave a unanimous judgment permitting the construction of temple at the site where once stood the Babri Masjid. It granted the entire 2.77 acre of disputed land in Ayodhya to deity Ram Lalla.SC says there should be alternate land given to Muslims to make good their loss of a mosque. Sunni Wakf Board is to be granted 5 acres land in “suitable, prominent place in Ayodhya”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5, 2020 performed ‘Bhoomi pujan’ as part of 15-minute rituals to formally mark the start of Ram temple construction in Ayodhya. Narendra Modi will be the first Prime Minister to visit Ram Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Ram.