COURT VERDICT ON AYODHYA – BABRI MASJID CASE

COURT VERDICT ON AYODHYA – BABRI MASJID CASE

Religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism all emerged out of India & Islam which arrived in India in the 12th century, became an important part of India’s religious and cultural heritage. Citizens from multiple religions co-exist in the country and this is precisely the reason why the word SECULAR was added to the Indian Constitution vide the 42nd Amendment 1976, which declared India to be a country with no official state religion.

Historically, religion has majorly impacted our society politically, culturallyas well as socially and many events of the past are witness to this fact, one such being the “Ayodhya – Babri Masjid case”which dates back to the year 1950 when the 1st suit was filed. Interestingly, the disputes which led to the filing of the suits are as old as the idea of India itself. A very historical case indeed!A landmark judgment of this case was witnessed recently on9th November 2019.

Background

The dispute was between two religious communities both of whom claimed ownership over a piece of land in Ayodhya. The site has religious significance for the devotees of Lord Ram, who believe that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site. For this reason, the Hindus refer to the disputed site as Ram Janmabhumi or Ram Janmasthan (i.e. birth-place of Lord Ram).

The Hindus asserted that there existed at the disputed site an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ram, which was demolished upon the conquest of the Indian sub-continent by Mughal Emperor Babur and the Babri mosque was built on top of it. On the other hand, the Muslims contended that the mosque was built by or at the behest of Babur in 1528 on vacant land.

This dispute finally let to the destruction of the Babri mosque in 1992 by Hindu nationalists which resulted in riots across the country causing the death of thousands of people.

Since then the Hindus and Muslims have been on a quest for justice, which finally came to an end with the verdict of the Supreme Court on 9th November 2019.

Summary of theSupreme Court ruling, 9th November 2019

  • The Court ordered the Government of India to create a trust to build a temple and a Board of Trustees within three months.
  • The disputed land will be owned by theGovernment of India and subsequently transferred to the Trust after its formation.
  • The Court ordered the entire disputed land of area of 2.77 acres to be allocated for the construction of a temple while an alternative piece of land of area of 5 acres be allocated to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque in Ayodhya.

The judgment has been welcomed well across the nation and the judicial system has once again proven its’ efficacy in one of the most significanthistorical milestones our country will remember for years to come.

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Some facts of the Ayodhya – Babri Masjid case – A ready reckoner

  • 1528 Mosque construction under the rule of the first Mughal king, Babur.
  • 1717 – Rajput noble Jai Singh II purchased the land of the mosque and vested it in the deity. Hindus worship Rama idols outside the mosque.

  • 1853  – The first recorded communal clashes over the site date to this year over a nearby mosque at Hanuman Garhi. The Babri mosque was attacked by Hindus in the process. Since then, local Hindu groups made occasional demands that they should have the possession of the site and that they should be allowed to build a temple on the site, all of which were denied by the colonial government.
  • 1859 – The British colonial administration fenced the site to separate the worship places, where inner court was used by Muslims and outer court by Hindus. That is how it stood for about 90 years. Meanwhile, the head of Nirmohi Akhara filed a petition before the district judge of Faizabad court to permit Hindus to pray to Ram Lalla inside Babri Masjid which was not granted.

  • 1949 -Hindus allegedly placed Lord Ram’s idols inside the Babri mosque. This led to the Muslims’ protests, with both the communities filing civil suits. The government proclaimed the site a disputed area and locked the gates. No Muslim prayers offered at the mosque since then.
  • 1950 – The first suit instituted by a Hindu devotee, Gopal Singh Visharadbefore the Civil Judge at Faizabad, alleging that he was being prevented by officials of the government from entering the inner courtyard of the disputed site to offer worship.

Thereafter, 3 more suits were filed upto 1964. The subject of the suits ranged from Hindu’s rights to perform Hindu rituals at the site to the Muslims seeking declaration and possession of the site.

  • 1984 – Vishwa Hindu Parishad Party (VHP) spearheaded a committee to “liberate” the alleged birth-place of Lord Rama and build the deity’s temple at the disputed land. BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, takes charge of the campaign.
  • 1986– District judge in 1986 ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened to Hindus to worship Lord Rama which irked Muslims who then formed Babri Mosque action Committee in protest of the ruling.
  • 1989– VHP heightened its campaign and laid the foundation of the Ram temple alongside the Babri mosque.
  • 1990– The then BJP president Lal Krishna Advani took out a cross-country rathyatra to garner support for the move to build a Ram temple at the site. 

VHP volunteers damaged the mosque partially inviting then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar intervention who tried to resolve the matter through negotiations between the two communities but failed.

  • 1991– BJP party comes to power in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • 1992– The Hindu Kar-sevaks and VHP, Shiv Sena Party and BJP supporters demolished the Babri Masjid leading to nationwide communal riots between the Hindus and Muslims.

Ten days after the demolition, the Congress government at the Centre, headed by PV Narasimha Rao, set up a commission of inquiry under Justice Liberhan.

  • 1993 – Three months after being constituted, the Liberhan Commission began investigations into who and what led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
  • 2001 – Tensions rose on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque as the VHP reaffirmed its resolve to build a temple at the site.
  • 2002 – At least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya. Riots followed in the state and over 2000 people were unofficially reported to have died in these.
  • 2003 – The court ordered a survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site. In August, the survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings.

A court ruled that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque.

  • 2004 – An Uttar Pradesh court ruled that an earlier order which exonerated LK Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.
  • 2007 – The Supreme Court refused to admit a review petition on the Ayodhya dispute.

  • 2009 – The Liberhan Commission, which was instituted ten days after the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, submitted its report on 30 June — almost 17 years after it began its inquiry. Its contents were not made public.
  • 2011Supreme Court of India stayed the High Court order splitting the disputed site in three parts and said that status quo will remain.

  • 6th August 2019 – The 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, of Supreme Court started final hearing on the case.
  • 16th October 2019 – Final hearing in the Supreme Court ends. The bench reserved the final judgment. The bench granted three days to contesting parties to file written notes on ‘moulding of relief’ or narrowing down the issues on which the court is required to adjudicate.

  • 9th November 2019 – Final judgment delivered.[96] The Supreme Court ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the Ram temple. It also ordered the government to give 5 acres of land inside Ayodhya city limits to the Sunni Waqf Board for the purpose of building a mosque.

Detailed ruling of the Supreme Court, 9th November 2019

  • The Court ordered the Government of India to create a trust to build a temple and a Board of Trustees within three months.
  • The disputed land will be owned by the Government of India and subsequently transferred to the Trust after its formation.
  • The Court ordered the entire disputed land of area of 2.77 acres to be allocated for the construction of a temple while an alternative piece of land of area of 5 acres be allocated to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque in Ayodhya.
  • The Court ruled that the 2010 Allahabd’s (Now Prayagraj) division of the disputed land was incorrect.
  • The Court ruled that the Demolition of the Babri Masjid and the 1949 desecration of the Babri Masjid was in violation of law.
  • The Court observed that archaeological evidence from the Archeological Survey of India shows that the Babri Masjid was constructed on a non-islamic structure.
  • The Court said that Muslim parties, including the UP Sunni Waqf Board, failed to establish exclusive possession of disputed land. It said that the Hindu parties furnished better evidence to prove that Hindus had worshipped continuously inside the mosque believing it to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama. The Court cited that iron railings setup in 1856-57 separated the inner courtyard of the mosque from the outer courtyard, and that Hindus were in exclusive possession of the outer courtyard. It said that even before this, Hindus had access to the inner courtyard of the mosque.
  • The ruins of an ancient religious structure under an existing building does not always indicate that it was demolished by unfriendly powers, the Supreme Court held in its 1,045-page judgment in the Ayodhya case. The court mentioned in the judgement that Guru Nanak had offered prayers in Ram Temple In 1510-11 AD based on the Janamsakhi. It also mentioned that a group of Nihang Sikhs performed puja in mosque in 1857.
  • The Court ruled that the suit filed by Nirmohi Akhara was not maintainable and it had no shebait rights.However, the court ruled that Nirmohi Akhara should be given appropriate representation in the Board of Trustees that will be created by the Government of India.
  • The Court rejected the claim made by Shia Waqf Board against the Sunni Waqf Board for the ownership of the Babri Masjid.

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