Ayodhya case: Supreme Court to pronounce verdict on November 9

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Hindu and Muslim parties had challenged three-way partition by Allahabad High Court.

A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will on November 9 deliver its judgment in the cross-appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim sides challenging the three-way partition of the disputed 2.77 acres of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board in September 2010.

The judgment comes after a marathon 40-day hearing. The five judges took less than a month to deliver the judgment. Chief Justice Gogoi is retiring on November 17.

The Bench, other than Chief Justice Gogoi, comprised Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.

The hearings began on August 6 after a mediation attempt across the religious divide “to heal hearts and minds” failed to deliver. The Ayodhya is a close second to the longest heard case in the Supreme Court — the historic Kesavananda Bharati case.

Ayodhya title dispute: A quick recap of the final hearings

The testimonies in the appeals alone ran into 54 volumes consisting of 13,426 pages which have been translated into English and filed by Uttar Pradesh government. There are a total 533 exhibits translated by various parties.

Also read: Allahabad High Court awards two-thirds of Ayodhya site to Hindu parties, one-third to Waqf Board | Highlights of the judgments of the three Judges comprising the Special Full Bench of the High Court of Allahabad

The Allahabad High Court judge, Justice S.U. Khan, one of the three judges whose opinions in the Ayodhya case are under appeal in the Supreme Court, had described the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Ayodhya property as a “small piece of land where angels fear to tread”. The “innumerable landmines” involved in the case and the decades of religious tension may have played a part in the appeals having to spend eight long years in the cold storage in the apex court.

Presently, the Centre, under the Ayodhya Act of 1993,  is holding the acquired land, which includes the disputed land, as a non-partisan, statutory receiver.

But Chief Justice Gogoi has been decisive and pushed the lawyers incessantly to stick to the deadline. The Bench had sat through the weekdays since August 6 to finish the hearings. The initial deadline was October 18.

The main arguments laid down by the Hindu side is that their faith and belief that Lord Ram was born exactly under what was the central dome of the Babri Masjid, before the mosque was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6 of 1992, has been consistent across centuries.

Explained | What is the Babri Masjid case all about?

Travelogues, writings and Skanda Purana have mentioned the Ramjanmabhoomi as a place of special religious significance to the Hindus. The Hindus have claimed that the disputed land itself is a juristic personality not hit by the law of limitation.

They have highlighted photographs from the Archaeological Survey of India excavations to prove that a large religious structure pre-existed the Babri Masjid. They said Mughal Emperor Babur demolished the temple to build the mosque.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan had argued that the Muslims had exclusive title over the land and the Hindus were given only prescriptive rights to enter and pray at the Ram Chhabutra.

They sought the restoration of the property to what it was prior to December 1992. Mr. Dhavan said the idols were placed surreptitiously by the Hindus in the intervening night of December 22-23 of 1949. They said there was not one direct evidence to show that the disputed land was the birthplace of Lord Ram. They argued that the findings of the archaeological excavations does not show one structure but several constructions spread over different eras. It is not that of a single massive structure as claimed by the Hindus.

“Even the Hindus were conquerors. There were thousands of conquests in history… How are they different from the conquests of Muslims?” Mr. Dhavan asked.

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