[Breaking] Ayodhya Verdict: Temple to be constructed on disputed land, 5 acres of different land allotted for Mosque

Murali Krishnan November 9 2019

In a momentous decision in the Ayodhya case, the Supreme Court today ruled that different land will be allotted to the Muslims for construction of the Mosque.

A suitable plot of land measuring five acres was directed to be handed over to Sunni Waqf Board either by the Central Government or the State Government. Sunni Waqf Board at liberty to construct a Mosque at the allotted land.

The Court also directed the Centre to come up with a scheme envisaging the setting up of a trust. The possession of the inner and outer courtyards of the dispute structure has been given to this trust. The scheme should provide for construction of a temple at the dispute site, the Court observed.

The unanimous verdict was rendered by a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

At the outset, the Bench observed,

"This Court set up under the Constitutional scheme should defer from interfering with the faith and belief of worshippers. Secularism is basic feature of the Constitution."

The Bench held that the Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace of Lord Ram) was not a juristic person.

It was further noted that there was evidence from Archaeological Society of India (ASI) report to conclude that the Babri Masjid not constructed on vacant land. There was a structure underlying the disputed structure, which was not an Islamic structure.

However, the Bench noted that the finding on the question of the title cannot be based only on expert report. The title to the land should be decided based on settled legal principles.

It went on to hold that the possession as asserted by Muslims cannot meet the threshold of adverse possession.

Importantly, the Bench held that the destruction of the Mosque was against the rule of law.

Another finding of the Court was that there was clear evidence to show that Hindus worshipped in the outer courtyard of the dispute site. As regards the inner courtyard, there was no evidence by Muslims to show exclusive possession by them prior to 1857, the Bench noted.

The hearing in the Ayodhya case began after the mediation panel report suggested that the parties had not arrived at any settlement. The Court had earlier agreed to give mediation a chance and had set up a three-member mediation panel.

The hearing in the case had lasted for 40 days.

The date for conclusion of arguments was set on October 18, which was agreed upon by the parties. The hearing, however, concluded on October 16, two days before the deadline.

On September 30, 2010, a three-judge Bench of the Allahabad High Court attempted to put an end to a six-decade-old legal dispute over 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Five suits in the matter were filed between 1950 and 1989.

The High Court decided that the main parties to the dispute i.e. the Hindu parties, the Muslim Parties and the Nirmoha Akhara would hold joint title to the disputed property. As a result, the Bench unanimously held that the property should be split three ways equally, with a third of the property going to each party.

Whereas it had little bearing on the final verdict, the Bench was not unanimous on its findings as to whether there existed a Hindu temple that was demolished to build the Babri Masjid mosque.

In May 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the verdict of the Allahabad High Court that divided the disputed site of 2.77 acres among the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Nirmohi Akhara.

[Read the Judgment]

Ayodhya Judgment.pdf

Read a summary of the five suits here.

Read the gist of the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment here.

Read a timeline of the case in the Supreme Court here.