This article is written by Shaily Garg, a Fourth year B.Com. LLB (Hons.) Student of University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
The Indian Judiciary had finally resolved the 134 years old Ayodhya land dispute on 9th November 2019 paving the way for the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site and ordered the government to provide five-acre land to Muslims at a prominent place in Ayodhya. It took ceremoniously 40 days for the Constitutional Bench of five judges led by former Chief Justice of India to reserve this landmark judgment.
The controversy over Ayodhya land had evidenced not only glorious but also incredibly horrid history. It was believed that Lord Rama, one of the most revered gods in Hinduism was born in Ayodhya situated in Uttar Pradesh, and later ruled over his kingdom from here. To commemorate his birthplace or Ram Janmabhoomi a temple is built in the early medieval ages. Purportedly, a mosque was built at the same site by destroying Janmabhoomi temple by a general of Mughal Emperor Babur, Mir Baqi in the year 1528 known as Babri Masjid and it existed till 1992 until demolished by karsevaks. According to 150 years old recorded antiquity, this demolition of Ram Temple by Babri masjid experienced several communal riots and incidents of violence between Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya. In 1885, Mahant Raghubar Das filed a plea in Faizabad District Court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the disputed structure, which was dismissed. After India got Independence, the idols of Rama and Sita were placed inside the mosque by an unknown person and Hindus started worshipping there and an FIR was lodged for illegal acquisition over the disputed property. This whole scenario resulted in the institution of Court cases. The first suit was filed by a member of Hindu Maha Sabha, Gopal Singh Visharad for the right to worship the idols, and the other suit seeking permission to continue worship in Temple was filed by Paramahansa Ramachandra Das. The Court rejected all the pleas and grappled the mosque to restrain people from entering. Discouraged though determined entities named Nirmohi Akhara for Hindus and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board for Muslims filed a suit seeking for the possession of the property for their respective purposes of establishment of Temple and Mosque. In 1986, the Local Courts allowed the opening of gates only for Hindus to offer a prayer that was widely refused by the Muslim community based on being discriminatory, unconstitutional, and arbitrary. This antedated the emergence of sectarian violence and politicization of an issue, resulted in the demolition of Babri Masjid completely. Aftermath demolition, all the occurrences are clubbed together in Allahabad High Court for hearing. On September 30, 2010, the three-judge bench of Allahabad High Court ordered a three-way division of the disputed area of 2.77 acres between Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara, and Sunni Central Waqf Board. Disappointed from the settlement, all three parties appealed in Supreme Court against the judgment of Allahabad High Court which was later on accepted, and the parties were directed to maintain the status quo at the site.
The five-judge Constitutional Bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court was of the view that the report presented by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) proves that Babri Masjid was not constructed on vacant land and provided that the remains of building beneath the structure of demolished Babri mosque were not Islamic. Also, Hindus had been offering prayers just outside the structure and continuing their religious purposes for more than 100 years. The Hindus always believed that the birthplace of Lord Rama was in the inner courtyard of the mosque and it is established that Muslims offered prayer inside the inner courtyard while Hindus offered a prayer in the outer courtyard which symbolizes their separate faith in the place. A unanimous decision was taken and a long-awaited verdict was passed in which the Title of land is given to Ramlalla Viraajman and to be considered a legal entity in the eyes of law. The disputed site to be given to Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas trust and center was ordered to frame scheme within 3 months and set up a trust for the construction of the temple. Since the demolition of Babri Masjid was against the Rule of Law, the court also held that 5 acres of prominent land to be allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board at another place for the construction of the Mosque.
The pronouncement of historic judgment in the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case witnessed appreciation from the whole world. The dispute over the land has polarized, baffled, and exhausted India. The balanced judgment has finally satisfied the main group of a litigant who promised they will not appeal against the verdict. The media was flooded with both inflammatory and exquisite content. The reason is that the case was not a humdrum civil matter. It was touched by the belief of communities, violence after the demolition of mosques, and subterfuge by placing idols of Lord Rama. In the contestation of faith, the verdict showed no victors and vanquishers. On 5th August, this year, the laying of the foundation for the Ram Temple by our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, marked the demise of an old political consensus and the beginning of a new journey.
The faith and belief of the Hindus which was depicted by the evidence on record established that Hindu’s belief at the place of Lord Ram and the Mosque was constructed and the three-dome structure is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The fact that Hindus were constructing iron-wall, dividing Mosque premises, kept outside the three-dome structure cannot be said to alter their faith and belief regarding the birthplace of Lord Ram. The worship on the Ram Chabutra in the outer courtyard was symbolic worship of Lord Ram who was believed to be born on the premises.
Statutes and laws
This historic judgment is based on the various statements made by the different witnesses under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. All those statements were considered factual and legally relevant and hence, those were admissible in the Court of Law. The five-judge bench in this case also exercised their power in Article 142 of the Constitution and direct that the Normohi Akhara will also get representation in the trust that the Centre must set up in three months to oversee the construction of the temple. Although Nirmohi Akhara’s suit was barred by the Limitation Act, 1963, but Article 142 allowed it to intervene in the matter. Article 142 grants the power to the Supreme Court for passing any order or decree to do “complete justice”.
Bench: Hon’ble Justice Ranjan Gogoi; Hon’bleJustice SA Bobde, CJ; Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan; Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud; Hon’ble Justice Sa Nazeer.
Petitioner: M.Siddiq (Deceased); Maulana Asshad Rashidi; Sunni Central Board of Waqfs;
Respondent: Mahant Suresh Das and Others; Nirmohi Akhara; Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman; The State of Uttar Pradesh; District Collector (Faizabad); City Magistrate (Faizabad); Superintendent of Police (Faizabad); All India Hindu Mahasabha; Arya Maha Praseshik Sabha; All India Sanatan Dharam Sabha