A 500-Year-Old Civilisational Wound Gets An Assured Healing

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15 mins read

NEW DELHI: In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Chief Justice-designate Justice SA Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SA Nazeer, has ruled that the Sunni Waqf Board HAS FAILED to establish its case on the land (Shri Ram Janmabhoomi). Muslims should be given alternate land for building the ‘lost Mosque’.

Also Read: Story About The Hearing In SC And Links To Other Related Stories Inside

The bench has ruled that the Union Government should formulate a scheme within 3-4 months for setting up of trust and hand over the disputed site to it for construction of a temple at the site. At the same time, a suitable alternative plot of land measuring 5 acres at Ayodhya will be given to Sunni Wakf Board.


In pointers:

  • A suitable plot of land measuring 5 acre shall be given to Sunni Waqf Board either by the state or by the Centre
  • Under Article 142, SC directs in the scheme to be framed, Nirmohi Akhara to also get representation
  • Land to remain vested in statutory receiver till trust is formed
  • Trust to be formed in three months
  • Management of construction of the temple to be monitored by the trust
  • Suit 3 by Nirmohi Akhara dismissed as barred by limitation.
  • Suit 4 and suit 5 within limitation.
  • Central Govt should within 3 months formulate a scheme envisaging setting up of Trust
  • Possession of inner and outer courtyards to be handed over to the Trust

The entire judgement would be placed on the official website of the Supreme Court of India here:
https://www.sci.gov.in/pdf/judgment.pdf

Dismissing the claim of the Sunni side that the report by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was based on conjectures, the bench ruled there is adequate material in ASI report to conclude the following:


Babri Masjid (built in the 15th Century) NOT constructed on vacant land.

There was a structure underlying the disputed structure.

The underlying structure belonged to the 12th Century.

The underlying structure was NOT an Islamic structure.

On the subject of the ASI scientific report, hough the ASI had refrained from recording a finding on whether the mosque was built after demolishing a Hindu temple, “the finding of title cannot be based only on the expert report of ASI”, the Supreme Court said. “Title to the land should be decided based on settled legal principles,” the 5-judge bench held.


HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JUDGEMENT:

Hindus believe that Lord Ram was born right below the central dome of the disputed structure, SC

Both Hindu and Muslim witnesses indicate that Hindus and Muslims were offering prayers at the disputed site


Whether a belief is justified is beyond judicial inquiry. Once faith is established, courts should defer to it

A title should be decided based on evidence in a court of law. A title cannot be established based on faith and belief

Suit 4 of Sunni Board is a suit for possession and is covered by Article 142 of Limitation Act.

So the limitation is 12 years and Suit 4 is within the limitation

Possession, as asserted by Muslims, cannot meet the threshold of adverse possession

From documentary evidence, it emerges that prior to 1857, there was no exclusion of Hindus from worshipping at the site

The outer courtyard became a focal point of worshipping by Hindus

Riots of 1934 indicate that the possession of inner courtyard became a matter of serious contention

Muslims have not been able to establish possessory title to the inner courtyard

The Muslims have not brought evidence to show possessory title, there is no evidence to show the offer of Namaz by Muslims to the exclusion of Hindus.

Hindus have been able to establish unimpeded possession of outer courtyard


The disputed site is one composite plot

The inner courtyard is a contested site. Evidence indicates no abandonment of mosque by Muslims

Destruction of mosque against the rule of law


The first pronouncement was in the form of the bench dismissing the claim of the Shia Waqf Board with regards the ownership of the site. (The main party, it may be noted, is the Sunni Waqf Board)

Next reading by the bench was that Suit 3 filed by Nirmohi Akhara is governed by Article 120 of Limitation Act and is barred by limitation. The claim of Nirmohi Akhara is only of management. Nirmohi Akhara is not a Shabait, ruled Supreme Court.

The bench had reserved the judgement on October 16, after 40 days of daily hearing on the matter, which began on August 6.

An old lady praying at Ram temple at Tulsibaug, Pune, Maharashtra. (File Photo: Siddhartha Joshi)

While there has been an unmanageable frenzy in media and social media, the situation on the ground at the moment seems to be almost exactly opposite of that:

In equal measure, #hindumuslimbhaibhai started trending as one of the top India trends on Twitter with at least 10,000 tweets till 10 am. Authorities said social media posts will be monitored to ensure that no attempt is made to vitiate the atmosphere by spreading fake or inflammatory content. Arrangements have also been made to ensure the safety and security of religious places across the country.

Ground Situation Update (22:00 HRS / 10 PM):


IN BRIEF

What is the Case:

Ostensibly a plot of land of 2.77 acres in Ayodhya. For more than seven decades, Hindu campaigners have been pushing to build a temple there for Bhagwan Shri Ram, who they believe was born on the site where the Mughals later built the Babri mosque — upon an existing temple.

The Allahabad High Court in 2010 ordered the disputed land be split into three parts, two going to Hindu groups and the third to the Sunni Waqf Board, representing Muslims. All three parties appealed to the Supreme Court. (Meanwhile, a fourth group that says it represents Shias joined the case, asking for the land to go to the Hindus.) Final hearings began in August and ended October 16.

What are the Claims of the Litigants:

To Hindus, it’s the revered birthplace of Bhagwan Shri Ram. To Muslims, it’s the site of a 16th-century mosque that was razed in 1992 by kar sevaks (volunteers). After a long legal fight, the Supreme Court today ruled on which of the country’s two biggest religions owns the site.

What is the Brief History of the Issue:

During British rule, the colonial masters kept the site divided, permitting Muslims to pray inside the mosque and Hindus to worship outside. In 1949, Hindu activists forcefully entered the mosque and placed an idol of Ram inside.

Anticipating violence, the Jawahar Lal Nehru government locked the main gate. Lawsuits were then filed by religious groups seeking control. The issue stayed in limbo till the 1980s, when many Hindu organisations and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a campaign to build a Bhagwan Shri Ram temple at the site.

On December 6, 1992, a frenzied Hindu mob gathered and razed to the ground much of the mosque. That provoked nationwide riots in which more than 2,000 people lost their lives.

On March 12, 1993, more than 250 people were killed in retaliatory bombings in Mumbai.


The Reason Behind Choosing Today’s Date for Judgement:

Justice Ranjan Gogoi is due to retire on November 17. November 17 is a Sunday and usually, the verdict in an important case is not announced on a holiday. The court’s decisions are also not announced on a day a judge retires. Moreover, the last working day of Justice Gogoi is November 15.

In terms of normal practice, if the court announces a verdict, the next day, the plaintiff or one of the defendants requests the court to review the decision again, and the process generally takes one or two days.

Hence Justice Gogoi might have decided to go for the judgement today.

Security Establishment On Top Of The Moment:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also dispatched around 4,000 paramilitary personnel for security deployment in Uttar Pradesh, particularly in Ayodhya.

A general advisory has been sent to all states and Union territories asking them to deploy adequate security personnel in all sensitive places and ensure that no untoward incident takes place anywhere in the country.

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Om Prakash Singh notified that several confidence-building measures have been taken by the cops. “We did around 10,000 meetings across the state with religious leaders and citizens. We are appealing to  the people of the state to not spread rumours on social media.”

Paramilitary forces have been deployed in Ayodhya and drones are being used to conduct aerial surveillance on the day of the Ayodhya case verdict. Singh added that the intelligence machinery has also been geared up and random checks are also taking place. An ADG rank officer has been deployed in Ayodhya to keep an eye on operations, Singh said.

As an exercise of utmost caution, the Uttar Pradesh-Nepal border has been sealed following a meeting of top officials with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath around Friday midnight. Additional Chief Secretary for Home Avanish Awasthi said that no one without proper identification would be allowed to move along the sensitive border. Awasthi said that railway forces have been directed to take safety and security of railway passengers inside trains and railway stations.

On Friday, hours before the Supreme Court notified the Saturday sitting, Gogoi met Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari and Director General of Police Om Prakash Singh in his court chamber.


2 Comments

  1. Thanks for such detailed and balanced article on one of the most discussed and awaited judgement on a very disputed issue. Glad that it was a very balanced, mature and unanimous judgement by the SC. It should add to harmony among all sections of society. On the same day, another historical event is opening of Kartarpur corridor to Dera Baba Nanak gurudev.

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