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Govt trust to get disputed Ayodhya site for Ram Mandir, Muslims to get another plot: SC

Possession of inner and outer courtyard will be handed over to the trustees. Muslim parties to be given a 5-acre plot in Ayodhya, says 5-judge Supreme Court bench.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court in an unanimous verdict Saturday said a trust should be set up by the central government within three months to help build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The Muslims, the court said, should be given 5 acres of land elsewhere in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.

A five-judge bench, headed by Chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, also indicated that the disputed site is for the Hindu parties.

“Possession of inner and outer courtyard will be handed over to the trustees,” the bench said.

The 5-acre plot should be given to the Muslims either by the central or state governments, the court said.

The dispute over the ownership of the 2.77 acres of land in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya — claimed by both Hindus and Muslims — has dominated India’s political discourse since the 1980s. The case reached a boiling point on 6 December 1992, when Right-wing ‘karsevaks’ demolished the 16th-century Babri Masjid they believed was built on the ruins of an ancient massive structure (temple) which essentially signified the birthplace of Lord Ram.

In the riots that followed across the country, over 3,000 people were killed.

The verdict of the constitution bench of the Supreme Court comes on an appeal against the September 2010 ruling of the Allahabad High Court which had trifurcated the disputed site between two Hindu parties — the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla Virajman, the deity installed at the site and seen as a juristic entity — and the Sunni Waqf Board.

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All the parties moved the Supreme Court, stating that equal division of land was not something they had prayed for.

After facing challenges like bench formation and translation of manuscripts in English for over eight years, the SC began began continuous hearings in the matter on 6 August this year.

Also read: Memory, travelogues & faith — how Ram Lalla, waqf board & seers claimed Ayodhya land in SC

What Hindu litigants said during the hearings

During the 40-day hearing in the Supreme Court, the Hindu parties argued that the disputed land was itself a juristic entity since it belonged to Lord Ram as his birthplace and the exact spot of his birth didn’t matter.

It was also argued that the mosque which once stood at the site was not an Islamic mosque as prayers weren’t offered there, and it had inscriptions of animals and humans which are strictly prohibited inside Islamic prayer sites.

The Nirmohi Akhara, which is a body of seers, claims to be worshippers and devotees of Lord Ram for over seven centuries. It, thus, stakes claim to “shebait” rights over the disputed site.

Shebaitship is a legal concept deriving from Hindu law where devotees are considered guardians of a deity’s daily affairs and associated property. It is not simply an office, but also carries certain rights.

The Akhara, which was founded by poet-seer Ramanand, operates on the collective memory of the sect — there is no written text, just oral traditions.

The Muslim litigants’ arguments

Appearing for the key Muslim litigant Sunni Waqf Board during the hearings, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said the word “Allah” was found inscribed at the entrance of the mosque, which he argued was clear proof that it was indeed an Islamic structure used for prayers.

He submitted a set of reports by historians to claim that Babri Masjid was never built by demolishing a temple.

The primary contention of the Muslim side has been that mere belief that Lord Ram was born exactly under the central dome of the Babri Masjid or the ‘Ram Chabutra‘ (inside the premises) does not give Hindus ownership of the disputed land.

The senior lawyer said there was no evidence of any title they held over the land, or to prove Ram was born under the inner dome as there “is no physical manifestation of the belief of Hindus”.

Also read: The unusual and quirky questions Supreme Court asked during Ayodhya hearing

The failed mediation

Before the continuous hearings began in the Ayodhya case, a mediation effort by a court-appointed panel was also undertaken. Led by Justice (retd) Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, the panel informed the top court in July that the process was unsuccessful.

However, it mediation was later resumed in September after interested parties expressed willingness for it.

On the last day of the hearing last month, a mediation report was submitted, but key Hindu and Muslim parties later said they were not a part of it.

There had been at least nine failed prior attempts at mediation in the past 160 years.

Appeal for calm

Ahead of the Ayodhya verdict, senior leaders across party lines, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra appealed for peace.

On Tuesday, senior RSS and BJP leaders also held a meeting with prominent Muslim clerics and intellectuals at the residence of Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in Delhi. They stressed that irrespective of the nature of the top court’s ruling, there should neither be “junooni jashn” (excessive celebration) nor “haar ka hungama” (brouhaha over defeat).

Former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, who attended the meeting, said it was unanimously agreed that the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya will be acceptable to all.


Also read: Ayodhya trial fallout: Lord Ram’s growing ‘descendants’ — Congress & BJP leaders, hotelier


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  1. In a layman’s eye, this judgement is not worthy of the respect we normally accord (or are expected to accord) to a Supreme Court judgement.
    How did the court manage to…” The court upheld the belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site in Ayodhya.” My father was born only 100 years ago, and not 5000 years ago. Yet, if I go to his village, who will be there from my grandfather’s time to tell me where that family lived when my father was born?
    The SC..” also upheld that the mosque was neither abandoned nor seceded by the Muslims.”
    Also,… “The fact that there lied a structure beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the ASI. ASI had not established whether temple was demolished to build the mosque.”
    In the light of the above, I don’t know how the court could decide that the Central government should build a temple there. Just because the Muslim waqf board has not been able to prove its right over the land does not mean that a Muslim structure did not stand there. We all have seen the photos of a mosque standing there.
    If this decision is taken in the interest of peace even if at the cost of Fairplay, then it is a welcome decision. Human lives are more precious than bricks.


  2. A Mosque was demolished by Hindu terrorists. A Hindu Supreme Court gives verdict endorsing those terrorists & gives the land to Hindus.
    Wow !!!

  3. Not shocked or dejected.
    Muslims never were/are/will be considered Indian.
    Accepting this truth will liberate you from all the sorrow that you might put yourself through.

  4. Muslims are officially the second class citizens. Congratulations on your new found citizenship.
    Cheer up. Atleast you are better than those locked up in detention camps in Assam.

    This is a disgraceful verdict, the ASI verdict this judgement was based on was dubious.
    In any case, it’s like saying those who destroyed Buddhist temples thousands of years ago should be given back the land.
    The ARAYAN s who took land from the Dravidians should give it back.
    Tribal people who are true indigenous people should get back all of India.
    This is a ridiculous judgement, made by Hindu judges. It cannot even be proved that there was a RAM temple on the site. The ASI report says it only found evidence of a structure.
    Once 170 million lose faith in justice, then there is only one alternative course.

  6. Three issues not clear from this historic judgement.
    1. Does the judgment has any bearing on trial of accused in babri masjid demolition… Are they continue to stand for trial?
    2. The judgment says that the land will be given to trust (which is a Govt trust) and that means is the Govt is going to build a place of worship with public money?
    3. What is the stand of the court if a litigation is filed for pocession of land on which Mathura temple and a masjid co located?

    I feel the court has left many open ends in it judgment…. It has not given the decision on totality of the aspect of the Hindu Muslim dispute regarding the ownership of the lands of place of worship… it only help as a tool future communal politics in the country. Since Independence the national politics and the government at large failed to remain neutral to religion and failed to liveup to the constitutionalism of the country. The Supreme Court of India could have addressed this aspect too.

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