The Supreme Court on Saturday (November 9) ended the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Mosque dispute, awarding the disputed site at Ayodhya for the construction of Ram temple and ordered the allotment of an alternate 5-acre land to the Muslims for the construction of a mosque.
The SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi ordered the Centre to form a trust within three months for the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site, where a 16th century Babri mosque was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists, who claim that the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram. Justice Gogoi is due to retire on November 17.
The bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said the possession of the disputed 2.77-acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who is one of the three litigants in the case. The possession, however, will remain with a central government receiver.
Stating that the destruction of the mosque was wrong, the verdict noted that the placing of Ram Lalla idols inside the central dome of the mosque triggered the dispute. It called it an “act of desecration”.
The 1045-page judgement also noted that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had found a non-Islamic structure underlying at the site.
“On the balance of probabilities, there is clear evidence to indicate that the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard” has continued unimpeded even before 1857 when the British annexed Oudh region. “The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession” of the mosque before 1857, it said. “The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed.”
The court also went on to say that the Constitution must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied.
To remedy that wrong, the court asked the Centre to allot a five-acre plot in a “prominent” location in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh for constructing a new mosque. The disputed 2.77-acre plot will for now remain with a Central government receiver, who will hand it over to a government-created trust that must be set up within three months. The trust will be tasked with the construction of the temple.
PM’s message of unity
“Whether it is devotion to Ram or Rahim, now is time for everybody to strengthen devotion to India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.
Later, in an address to the nation, Modi said peace, unity and amity are essential for development of India and described November 9 as a day to forget any bitterness one may have. He said there is no place for fear, bitterness and negativity in new India.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said it was was contemplating to seek a review of the Supreme Courts Ayodhya verdict, even as several leaders and top organisations of the community called for not pursuing the matter any further. Several top Muslim bodies and clerics also appealed for peace and calm.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, AIMPLB Secretary Zafaryab Jilani said, “We are dissatisfied with certain findings of the Supreme Court…. We respect the Supreme Court verdict and respectfully disagree with certain aspects of it.”
Jilani said they will study the judgement and may seek a review. Sources in the prominent Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said it was not in favour of filing a review petition and wants the matter to end.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who had represented the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government in the title dispute, welcomed the verdict. He said the country’s highest court, living by its “own glorious past”, has balanced justice on both sides strictly according to law after painstakingly analysing the intricacies of law involved and checkered facts dating back to several centuries.
Senior advocate P S Narasimha, who had appeared for deity Ram Lalla Virajman in the title dispute, said they are grateful to the court for respecting their religion. “The faith of Hindus has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court verdict.”
Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, who had also appeared for the deity, welcomed the judgment, saying it is a victory for the people. “It is a very balanced judgment and it is a victory for the people of India,” he said. The Nirmohi Akhara said it has no regrets over the Supreme Court saying that it is not a shebait of deity Ram Lalla.
Security forces maintained a strong vigil across the country, especially in Ayodhya and other sensitive places, although the day passed off peacefully without any untoward incident.
While Ayodhya resembled a city under siege during the day, the scene was no different elsewhere in the country with police and central forces keeping an eye over the security situation.
Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to all communities to accept the verdict and maintain peace while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh urged everyone to take the verdict with equanimity and magnanimity. The Congress said it respects the verdict and is in favour of construction of Ram temple.
Prominent Muslim leaders appealed for peace and harmony even as they expressed surprise.
“I was surprised to see the ruling and it’s beyond my understanding. I feel there were enough evidences in favour of the mosque but these were not taken into consideration,” Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, the current Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) of the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, said.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said the SC judgment is a “victory of faith over facts” and suggested rejection of the alternative five-acre plot given for construction of a mosque.
Owaisi quoted former Chief Justice of India JS Verma that the “Supreme Court is supreme…and final but not infallible.”
On the apex court giving an alternative five-acre plot to the Muslim side for construction of a mosque, Owaisi said the Muslim side was fighting for legal rights and does not need charity from anyone.
(With agencies inputs)