Thursday, November 21, 2019

Posted at: Nov 9, 2019, 10:30 AM; last updated: Nov 10, 2019, 7:04 AM (IST)

Temple to come up at disputed Ayodhya site, alternative land for mosque, says SC

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 9

The Supreme Court on Saturday paved the way for construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya as a five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi unanimously decreed the decades-old title dispute in favour of Ram Lalla.

In a 1045-page historic verdict, the top court reversed the Allahabad High Court’s September 30, 2010 verdict equally dividing the disputed 2.77 acre land between Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Muslims, terming it “legally unsustainable”.

“Even as a matter of maintaining public peace and tranquility, the solution which commended itself to the High Court is not feasible. The disputed site admeasures all of 1,500 square yards. Dividing the land will not sub-serve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquility,” said the Bench – which also included Justice SA Bobde, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer.

The Hindus have been in exclusive and unimpeded possession of the outer courtyard where they have continued worship and the inner courtyard has been a contested site with conflicting claims of the Hindus and Muslims. The ASI report concluded that there is in existence a massive underlying structure, below the disputed structure even though it didn’t conclude that temple was demolished.

It held that Ram Lalla is a juristic person but Ram Janmsthan isn’t.

The Bench held that Sunni Central Wakf Board failed to establish its case of a dedication by user and the alternate plea of adverse possession.

While giving the decree in favour of Ram Lalla, the Bench said, Suit 4 filed by Sunni Central Wakf Board must also be partly decreed by directing the allotment of alternate land measuring 5 acre to the Muslims for the construction of a mosque and associated activities within the city of Ayodhya.

What the top court said

* A five-judge Bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi decrees Ayodhya title suit in favour of Ram Lalla

* In a unanimous verdict, it grants entire 2.77 acre disputed site at Ayodhya to Ram Lalla

* Rules that Ram Lalla is a juristic person; but Ram Janmabhoomi is not

* Notes that destruction of Babri mosque in 1992 constituted a serious violation of rule of law

* Orders Centre, UP govt to allot five-acre land to Muslims in Ayodhya for building a mosque

* Directs the Centre to set up in three months a trust which will build Ram Temple

* Nirmohi Akhara to be accommodated in the proposed trust by the Centre

* ASI could not give a conclusive finding as to demolition of a temple to build mosque

“While determining the area of land to be allotted, it is necessary to provide restitution to the Muslim community for the unlawful destruction of their place of worship,” it said using its extra-ordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

“This exercise, and the consequent handing over of the land to the Sunni Central Waqf Board, shall be conducted simultaneously with the handing over of the disputed site comprising of the inner and outer courtyards as a consequence of the decree in Suit 5 (of Ram Lalla),” the Bench said.

“The allotment of land to the Muslims is necessary because though on a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims, the Muslims were dispossessed upon the desecration of the mosque on December 22/23, 1949 which was ultimately destroyed on December 6, 1992,” it said.

“Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law. The Constitution postulates the equality of all faiths. Tolerance and mutual co-existence nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people,” the top court underlined.

“The verdict is very balanced and it is a victory of people,” said senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan who represented Ram Lalla during the marathon hearing that went on for 40 days.

The top court directed the Centre to set up a trust or any other appropriate mechanism to which the land would be handed over in terms of the decree that went in favour of Ram Lalla.

Referring to the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993 through which 67.7 acre land in and around the disputed site at Ayodhya was acquired, the Bench said the government was free to hand it over to any trust which is willing to comply with the terms and conditions as government may impose.

It means the both the disputed land of 2.77 acre and acquired land of 67.7 acre can go to the proposed trust for building of the temple at Ayodhya.

While rejecting Nirmohi Akhara‘s claim to be a shebait, the Bench asked the Centre to give it “an appropriate role in the management” of the temple having regard to its historical presence at the disputed site and their role to do complete justice.

Noting that the Constitution does not make a distinction between the faith and belief of one religion and another, the Bench said also commented on its own role as interpreter of law and Constitution.

It said, “The court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence. The law provides us with parameters as clear but as profound as ownership and possession… All forms of belief, worship and prayer are equal. Those whose duty it is to interpret the Constitution, enforce it and engage with it can ignore this only to the peril of our society and nation.”


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