The Supreme Court Verdict on Ayodhya Case
The five-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, read out a unanimous ram mandir verdict on 9th November 2019 of one of the longest land dispute case in the history of India. The Supreme Court gave its verdict on the centuries-old religious dispute and ordered that a Ram Mandir must be constructed at the disputed site (about 2.77 acres land), while the Muslims must be compensated with 5 acres of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya, for the loss of Babri Masjid.
As far as CJI Ranjan Gogoi is concerned he provided a balanced judgment in the face of massive law and order issues especially surrounding Ayodhya. As the verdict clearly says that faith cannot be the benchmark of giving judgments, eventually there was a unanimous verdict saying that Hindus had better proof of claiming their land as compared to the Muslims. Moreover, the court accepted the fact that all three cases of desecration in 1926, 1949 and 1992 were acts of vandalism violating the constitutional and legal framework.
The issue revolves around a site in Ayodhya that was regarded as the birthplace of Lord Ram where a mosque was built by Mir Baqi, on orders of the Mughal emperor Babur. The question of whether the previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the temple and the claims of both Hindus and Muslims on the site led to the historical Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Land Title Dispute.
Babri Masjid was a mosque believed to be constructed on former Ram Mandir of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Hindu deity Rama. Since the 18th century, it has been a focus of disputes between the two communities, Hindus and Muslims. On 6th December 1992, a rally involving over 1,50,000 Hindu activists was organized. The speeches of leaders like, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Uma Bharti agitated the crowd to an extent that the crowd of KarSevak overwhelmed security forces and tore down the 16th century Babri Masjid. Vastly outnumbered and unprepared for the size of the attack, the police cordon could do nothing while the mob set upon the building with axes, hammers, and grappling hooks, and within a few hours, the entire structure was leveled.
Beginning of Dispute
Assistant commissioner of Faizabad during the British Raj, P. Carnegy points out that the conflict started as early as 1857. There were riots all across the country eventually resulting in sepoy Mutiny. In 1949, the idols of Ram and Sita were forcibly kept inside the Babri Masjid leading to another round of conflict. Hindus always use to pray near the mosque premises and in 1856-57 the British government erected iron railings in order to segregate the prayer areas of the Hindus and Muslims,
Hindus were given the inner courtyard of the mosque while the Muslims got the outer courtyard. Encouraged by this gesture Ram Chabutra was immediately constructed close to the railings and carried out their worship as the sacred area of Ram’s birthplace. Multiple litigations were filed from both ends, Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. Several verdicts came out and were rejected, which included the 2010 Allahabad high court verdict where the land was to be divided equally among the 3 litigants.
In the 90s, once Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India opened the lock of the Mosque the situation turned hostile. Both Hindu and Muslim groups gave inflammatory speeches leading to the destruction of the Mosque in 1992. L.K.Advani was the face of the Hindutva mob, which was marching in the Rath Yatra across the country. The demolition of Babri Masjid triggered communal riots between India’s Hindus and Muslim communities that engulfed several parts of India resulting in the death of nearly 2000 KarSevaks. Nearly 700 people were killed in the 1992 Bombay Riots in December 1992 and January 1993 due to the escalation of large-scale protests by the Muslim to the demolition of Babri Masjid. The Bombay riots were followed by Godhra Train Burning on 27th February 2002 killing Hindu Pilgrims returning from Ayodhya after a religious ceremony.
High Court Judgement
On 30th September 2010, the High Court of Allahabad gave the verdict of dividing the disputed land into three parts: the site of the Ram Lalla Idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman, the site of Sita Rasoi would go to Hindu ascetics’ outfit Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board to get the rest. All three parties were disappointed with the Ram mandir verdict and appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court.
Ram mandir Verdict: What lies in the future?
According to the latest Ram Mandir news, during the long-running judgment of the Babri Masjid case, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) provided evidence of the presence of a non-Islamic building beneath the demolished Mosque, farther strengthening the belief that it was the birthplace of Lord Ram. On 9th November 2019, the Supreme Court pronounced in a historical judgment, that a Ram Mandir will be constructed on a 2.77-acre site in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya town which has been an epicenter of independent India’s biggest religio-political wrangle. It has also announced that Muslims will get an alternate piece of land (5 acres) to build a potential mosque. This land will be awarded to the Sunni Central Waqf Board either by the Central Government out of the acquired land or by the Government of UP within Ayodhya.
The demand of Vishwa Hindu Parishad about reclaiming multiple such sites will be a problem for the country in the coming years. Hindu organizations have repeatedly said that Kashi Vishwanath temple, Mathura and along with it 200 such structures were destroyed by Islamic invasion which needs to be reclaimed. This judgment will pave the way for more such demands. Gyanvapi mosque (kashi Vishwanath temple) and Shah Idgah Mosque (Mathura) are expected to be the next two focuses of the right-wing parties. The central government under Narendra Modi will be under immense pressure to deal with these issues as Hindus across the North Indian states have tremendous emotional connect towards it.
As far as electoral prospects are concerned about the upcoming state elections in Jharkhand and Delhi will have some effects on the results. Jharkhand, for instance, has a BJP government in place and has very strong Hindutva sentiments. In the last few years mob lynching related to cattle smuggling and fake child lifting stories have rocked the state. It is to be seen whether the state plagued by abject poverty, malnutrition and corruption give an edge to BJP in the coming elections with the Ram mandir plank.
After the abolition of 370, Triple Talaq and Ram Mandir verdict already solved, the second term of the Modi government will be a dream come true for Hindutva voters across the country. Moreover they would now expect Uniform Civil Code to be applicable, removing government control over Temples and other issues that affect the Hindus per se. However, we feel that the government should now focus back on the issues of law and order, economic development and academic reforms to improve the human development index of the country. This will be truly a “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” in its truest sense.
The Ayodhya dispute timeline is given below with all the important dates and events.
1528: Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal emperor Babur, built Babri Masjid.
1885:Mahant Raghubir Das seeks nod to build canopy outside Babri Masjid. Faizabad court junks plea.
1949: Ram Lala idols put under central dome outside the disputed structure.
1950: Gopal Simla Visharad moves Faizabad District court for rights to worship Ram Lala idols.
1959: Nirmohi Akhara files suit possession of the site.
1961:Suit for possession of the site files by UP Sunni Central Waqf Board.
Feb 1, 1986:Local court orders govt. to open suit for Hindu Worshippers.
1989: Bhagwan Shri Ram Lalla Virajman at Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Ayodhya files a title suit represented by “next friend” Deoki Nandan Agarwal, a former judge of Allahabad High Court.
Sep 25, 1990: L.K.Advani starts nationwide Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujrat.
Dec 6, 1992: Babri Masjid demolished by KarSevak.
Oct 24, 1994: SC says in historic Ismail Faruqui case that mosque is not integral to Islam.
April 2002: Allahabad High Court begins hearing on the ownership of disputed site.
Sep 30, 2010: HC, in a 2:1 majority rule three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
May 9, 2011:SC stays with the HC verdict on Ayodhya land dispute.
March 21, 2017:CJI JS Kher suggests out-of-court settlement among rival parties.
Dec 1, 2017:Thirty-two civil rights activities file plea challenging 2010 verdict of Allahabad HC
Jan 8, 2019:SC sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear case headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S.A.Bobde, N.V.Ramana, U.U.Lalit and D.Y.Chandrachud.
Jan 25, 2019:SC reconstitutes 5-member Constitution Bench to hear the cases Justice U.U.Lalit recuses, the new bench had CJI Gogoi, Justices Bobde, Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S.A Nazeer.
Feb 26, 2019:SC favors mediation.
May 9, 2019:The three-member mediation committee submits an interim report to SC.
Aug 1, 2019:Report of mediation submitted in a sealed cover to SC.
Aug 6, 2019:SC commences day-to-day hearings on the land dispute.
Oct 16, 2019:SC concludes hearings, reserves order.
Nov 9, 2019: In a unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court allows the disputed Ayodhya land to a new temple trust. The court said an alternate piece of land should be given to the Muslims to make up for their loss of Masjid.