The five-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court has said the Allahabad High Court’s verdict of splitting the disputed Ayodhya land among Hindus and Muslims defied logic
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on November 9 has delivered 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.
In a unanimous judgment, the Bench has ordered that a temple must be constructed at the disputed site and the Muslims must be compensated with five acres of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya. The court also ordered the Central government to formulate a scheme within three months to implement this order.
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Click here to read/download the full text of the verdict as PDF.
The Supreme Court refers to Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, which prohibits conversion of any place of worship, to say that all religions are equal.
At the heart of the Constitution is the commitment to equality. Constitution does not distinguish between one faith and another, says the CJI.
On faith of Hindus
On the faith of Hindus, the Supreme Court observes: There is consistent proof that Hindus considered Ayodhya the birthplace of Ram. Hindus believed Ram was born under the central dome of the demolished mosque. Testimonies, even in cross examination, did not disprove Hindus’ faith in birthplace as not genuine.
Once evidence is there of the belief/faith that Ramjanmabhoomi is the birthplace of Ram, court has to acknowledge it. Beyond the ken of the court to probe whether the belief is justified. Court cannot go by theology but only on evidence and balance of probabilities.
There is historical evidence to prove the presence of worshippers at Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi and offering of prayers. This was a practice even before the British came. The adjudication of title is based on evidence and not travelogues, gazette entries.
The construction of the railings on the premises was ostensibly to maintain peace. But the fact that Hindus leaned over the railings to offer worship at the direction of the mosque’s central suggests their force of belief/faith that Ram was born there.
SC accepts ASI findings
Accepting the ASI’s report, the Supreme Court states that the mosque was not constructed on vacant land. It observes, the pre-existing structure was large and Babri pillars prove a pre-existing structure. Pre-existing structure was not on Islamic and the artefacts collected show earlier structure was non-Islamic.
Balance of probabilities suggest pre-existence of temple. But the ASI has refrained from saying temple was demolished. It only says material was used for constructing mosque.
Both Hindus and Muslims cannot explain what the disputed land was used for from 12th to 16th century.
The Supreme Court Bench says the three-way partition of the Ramjanmabhoomi by the Allahabad High Court defies logic.
The Supreme Court says the damage caused to Babri Masjid in 1934 and the desecration in 1949 violates the rule of law. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 during the pendency of the suits is condemnable.
Muslims have not been able to prove their possession on the dispute property as a composite whole, the verdict says. No proof to show Muslim possession was exclusive.
The Sunni Waqf Board’s claim that the disputed premises was a waqf is a mirror image of the Hindus’ claim that the Ramjanmabhoomi is a legal personality. Both contentions have been rejected.
Prohibitory orders have been issued across Delhi to maintain public order.
Temple at disputed site, mosque at a prominent place
The demolition of mosque in 1992 was a violation of law, says the Bench. It orders government to provide alternative land for Muslims.
The Bench orders that a temple will be constructed on the disputed land. It orders the Centre to formulate a scheme within three months under the Ayodhya Act 1993. The scheme will have a Trust for management and construction of temple. Both the inner courtyard and the outer courtyard will be handed over to this Trust. The Centre will give the rest of the land to the Trust.
Muslims will be awarded five acre of alternative land in a suitable, prominent place.
Till the Trust is formed, the ownership of the site will rest with the Centre.
The suit filed by Nirmohi Akhara for sherbaiti rights has been time barred and hence dismissed.
Mumbai Police forbids unlawful assembly from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 11 a.m. on Sunday under provisions of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as a precautionary measure in light of Ayodhya verdict.
‘Babri Masjid was not built on a vacant land’
Quoting the ASI report, the Bench says the underlying structure in the disputed site was not of Islamic origin, however the report does not support whether the temple was demolished, the Bench says.
The court also says the mosque was not built on a vacant land, as claimed by the Muslim parties.
There is clear evidence the Hindus believed Ram was born in the disputed site, the CJI says.
There is evidence that Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi was worshipped by the Hindus even before the British came. However, travelogues and gazetteers cannot be the basis of adjudication of title, the Bench says.
The mosque was neither abandoned nor seceded by the Muslims, the court observes.
However, the court says the Muslims could not prove exclusive possession of the property.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi while reading out judgment says, this court must accept faith and accept belief of worshippers. Court should preserve balance.
The CJI says Ramjanmabhoomi is not a legal personality. The deity is a juridical person.
The Bench rules that the Nirmohi Akhara is not a Shabait, the custodian of the deity. It was only of management, the court says.
The proceedings begin in Supreme Court. The five-judge Constitution Bench begins reading out the verdict.
The first one to be taken up is the dispute between Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards. Both of them claimed the Babri masjid that once stood in the disputed site belonged to them. The Shia Board was even ready to give up the land to the Hindus in lieu of another place, but the Sunnis were opposed to it.
The Allahabad High Court had award one-third of the land to the Sunni Wakf Board.