Ayodhya Judgement: Exploring the Landmark Supreme Court Verdict
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Ayodhya Judgement: Exploring the Landmark Supreme Court Verdict

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On 9th November 2019, the Supreme Court of India delivered a historic judgement on the Ayodhya dispute, a longstanding legal battle over a religious site in Ayodhya. The verdict settled the contentious issue and had significant implications for both Hindus and Muslims in India. In this article, we will delve into the background of the Ayodhya dispute, examine the key arguments presented in the case, and explore the major highlights of the Supreme Court's judgement.


Background of the Ayodhya Dispute

The Ayodhya dispute dates back to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a mosque in Ayodhya, on 6th December 1992. The incident occurred during a political rally that turned into a riot. Subsequently, a land title case was filed in the Allahabad High Court, which delivered its verdict on 30th September 2010. The court ruled that the disputed land should be divided into three parts, with one-third going to the Ram Lalla (Infant Rama), one-third to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, and one-third to the Nirmohi Akhara. The court also affirmed that the disputed land was the birthplace of Hindu deity Rama and that the Babri Masjid was built on the site of a demolished Hindu temple.

Title Cases and Appeals

The Ayodhya dispute involved several title suits and appeals. In 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad filed a title suit seeking permission to offer worship at the disputed site. The Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious institution, filed another title suit in 1959 claiming to be the custodian of the disputed site. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board also filed a suit seeking possession of the site. The Allahabad High Court began hearing the case in 2002, and after several legal battles, the judgement was delivered in 2010. All three parties involved in the case appealed against the division of the disputed land to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Verdict

The Supreme Court of India conducted a final hearing on the Ayodhya dispute from 6th August 2019 to 16th October 2019. On 9th November 2019, the court pronounced its verdict, bringing an end to the decades-long legal battle. The key highlights of the judgement are as follows:

Handing Over of Disputed Land: The Supreme Court ordered the disputed land, measuring 2.77 acres, to be handed over to a trust to be created by the government of India. The trust would be responsible for building the Ram Janmabhoomi temple, which is considered the birthplace of Hindu deity Rama.

Allocation of Land for Mosque: The court also ordered the government to allocate 5 acres of alternative land to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque. This decision aimed to provide a replacement for the demolished Babri Masjid.

Rejection of High Court's Division of Land: The Supreme Court ruled that the division of the disputed land by the Allahabad High Court in 2010 was incorrect. The court held that the entire land should be allocated for the construction of the temple and an alternative plot of land should be provided for the mosque.

Illegal Demolition and Desecration: The court declared that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the desecration of the site in 1949 were illegal acts in violation of the law.

Archaeological Evidence: The Supreme Court referred to the archaeological evidence presented by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The ASI's findings indicated that the Babri Masjid was constructed on a structure with distinct indigenous and non-Islamic architecture.

Possession of the Disputed Land: The court observed that the Hindu parties had better evidence to establish continuous possession of the disputed land. It noted that iron railings were installed in 1856-57, separating the inner and outer courtyards, with Hindus having exclusive possession of the outer courtyard.

Involvement of Sikhism: The Supreme Court mentioned accounts stating that Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru, made a pilgrimage to Ayodhya and offered prayers at the Ram temple in 1510-11 CE. The court also noted that a group of Nihang Sikhs had performed puja in the mosque in 1857.

Role of Nirmohi Akhara: The court ruled that the claim made by the Nirmohi Akhara could not be upheld, and it had no shebait (custodial) rights. However, the Akhara would be given appropriate representation in the board of trustees.

Rejection of Shia Waqf Board's Claim: The Supreme Court rejected the claim made by the Shia Waqf Board against the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for the ownership of the Babri Masjid.

Restrictions Imposed Before the Verdict

In anticipation of potential unrest following the verdict, the authorities imposed restrictions and increased security measures. For 15 days preceding the judgement, Ayodhya experienced strict security arrangements, with thousands of paramilitary forces and police troops deployed. Internet services were shut down in several places, and Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was invoked in various cities. A public holiday was declared in several states, and the Prime Minister appealed for peace and religious harmony.

Domestic Reactions

The Ayodhya verdict received mixed reactions from various parties and religious figures. While the primary lawyer of the Muslim parties expressed some dissatisfaction with the judgement, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board accepted the verdict and decided not to file a review petition. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, however, decided to file a review petition after rejecting the verdict.

Prominent leaders from both Hindu and Muslim communities extended their support to the government's efforts to maintain peace. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress, among other political parties, welcomed the verdict and called for calm. The Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid in Delhi supported the judgement, while All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi expressed dissatisfaction, calling it a victory of "faith over facts."

International Reactions

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs briefed foreign envoys and diplomats about the Ayodhya verdict. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, criticized the judgement and questioned its timing, labeling it as an indication of the "bigoted ideology of the Modi government."

Analysis and Implications

The Ayodhya judgement by the Supreme Court is a landmark verdict that brings closure to a decades-long dispute. The Court's decision to award the title of the disputed site to Hindus was based on their possessory claim and the legal shortcomings of the partition ordered by the Allahabad High Court. The verdict aims to promote peace, harmony, and respect for the religious sentiments of all parties involved.

This judgement has significant implications for the future of interfaith relations in India. It sets a precedent for resolving religious disputes through legal means and upholding the principles of justice and fairness. The construction of a temple and mosque on separate allocated plots of land demonstrates the Court's commitment to ensuring equal representation and religious freedom for all.

The Ayodhya judgement delivered by the Supreme Court of India on 9th November 2019 settled the longstanding dispute over the religious site in Ayodhya. The verdict ordered the allocation of the disputed land for the construction of a Ram Janmabhoomi temple and the provision of an alternative plot for the construction of a mosque. The judgement had significant implications and received mixed reactions from various parties. It marked a major milestone in the history of India and highlighted the importance of resolving disputes through the legal system.

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