A five-judge Supreme Court Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has ruled that possession of inner and outer courtyards of the disputed site at Ayodhya will be handed over to a trust which will construct a Hindu temple. [READ / DOWNLOAD FULL JUDGMENT HERE]
The bench also ruled that alternate land must be allotted to Muslims to construct the mosque. “A suitable plot of land measuring 5 acres is to be handed over to Sunni Waqf Board either by the Central government or the state government. The Sunni Wakf Board is at liberty to construct a mosque at the allotted land,” the bench ruled.
“Muslim parties must get alternate land. Wrong committed must be limited,” the five-member Constitution bench comprising Justice S A Bobde, Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer stated.
Suit 3 by Nirmohi Akhara was dismissed as barred by limitation. Suit 4 and Suit 5 was within limitation, the bench stated.
The constitution bench of the Supreme Court said that all forms of beliefs equal before the Constitution. “Constitution speaks through the judges. Worship of the inner courtyard continued by Hindus even when in possession,” the bench stated.
The bench stated that for 325 years, from the construction of the mosque until 1857, Muslims have given no evidence of offering prayers at the disputed structure in exclusion of Hindus. Destruction of the mosque in 1992 was in breach of the Supreme Court order, the bench stated.
The bench stated that the Muslims Sunni Waqf Board couldn't establish adverse possession on the disputed site. The disputed site is one composite whole, the bench stated. No namaz was conducted after 1949, the Supreme Court bench stated.
Citing evidence that Hindus continued praying there, at Ram Chabutara, garbh griha, the Supreme Court ruled that Muslims haven't been able to establish possessory right on the disputed property.
The bench stated that documents show that before 1857, Hindus were not barred from worshipping in the inner courtyard and that the railing segregating the outer and inner courtyard was made in 1857. However, Hindus always believed that the birthplace of Ram was in the inner courtyard of the mosque, the Supreme Court stated.
The riots of 1934 and disturbances in 1949 show possession of inner courtyard was a matter of contestation. It can't be said Muslims have been able to establish their possessory title, the Supreme Court stated.
“It is clearly established that while Muslims offered prayers inside the inner courtyard, the same was done by Hindus in the outer court yard. Prior to 1856-57, there was no exclusion of Hindus from praying there. Exodus of Hindus from the inner courtyard remained contentious too. They continued to worship at Ram Chabutra and they worshipped the Garbh Griha from the railings,” the Supreme Court constitutional bench stated.
Regarding Sri Ram Lalla Virajman's petition, the Supreme Court stated that mere existence of a structure beneath the mosque cannot lead to a title today even if the Supreme Court finds that it was a Hindu temple. “There was no cessation of namaz or abandonment of structure by the Muslims,” the Supreme Court stated.
Earlier the Supreme Court stated that the Sunni Waqf Board's suit is maintainable, but Muslims can't assert the right of adverse possession.
“Faith is a matter of individual believer. Once the court has the material that the faith is genuine, the court must not interfere and acknowledge it. Value of a secular constitution lies in mutual deference,” the Supreme Court Constitutional bench stated.
The Supreme Court stated that the underlying structure was not of Islamic religion since artefacts, architectural evidence had distinct non- Islamic nature.
The Supreme Court stated that an Archeological Survey of India (ASI) report that held that there was a structure underneath the Babri Masjid which can't be dismissed as conjecture or just a guess work and junked theory of pre-existence of an Idgah at the disputed site. “Babri mosque wasn't constructed on a vacant land. An underlying structure did exist,” the Supreme Court stated.
“Sri Ram Lala Virajman is a juristic entity, but Sri Ram Janmasthan isn't and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report can't be dismissed as a conjecture or just a guess work,” the Supreme Court stated.
Regarding Gopal Singh Visharad's suit, the Supreme Court ruled that the right asserted to worship at the disputed property can be pursued by others even if the original plaintiff died.
EXPERT REACTION TO THE VERDICT:
“The Supreme Court has done justice. The verdict is based on legal provisions and evidence. We should all respect it and move on with life towards progress. The media and politicians should play a positive role in implementing the verdict and maintain harmony”.