After hearing the long drawn out Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case the Supreme Court on Saturday ordered that a government appointed trust would get the disputed land in Ayodhya and Muslims would be given alternate site to build the mosque.
A five-judge Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and included Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer had reserved the judgment on October 16 after a daily hearing that lasted 40 days.
The court challenged the Allahabad High Court’s decision that the mosque was not abandoned by Muslims. ‘Mere cessation of namaz by Muslims cannot lead to the inference that the mosque was abandoned. They still continued to offer namaz inside the inner courtyard. So, Muslims had not abandoned the mosque.’
The court also said that the mere existence of a structure under a mosque cannot lead to a title case today even if the courts find that it was a Hindu temple. It was clear that namaz was offered inside the inner court yard, while prayers were being offered in the outer courtyard.
The Court said the only proof is regular daily namaz and there was proof of continuous namaz till 1856. It however upheld the Sunni Waqf Board's suit to be within limitation stating that it had challenged the act of placing idols inside the central dome in December 1949. It had thus the authority to initiate legal proceedings.
The court said, ‘Hindus consider Ayodhya as the birthplace of Lord Ram, they have religious sentiments, while Muslims call it Babri mosque. The Hindus believe that Lord Ram was born under the dome and that faith is a matter of individual belief.’
While the faith and belief of Ayodhya being the birthplace of Lord Ram is undisputed, so is that of the Muslims to worship at that mosque. 'Whether belief and faith are justified is beyond the ken of judicial scrutiny.’ According to archaeological evidence Babri masjid was constructed on vacant land and there was a structure underlying the disputed structure. And that underlying structure was not Islamic. This has been established by the Archaeological Survey of India, the court noted.
So the title of land can be decided only on legal principles while adding that Hindus consider Ayodhya as the birthplace of Ram. ‘Millions of Hindus believe and their faith is undisputed There is the belief of the existence of the garbagriha also.’
The court said the suit filed by Nirmohi Akhara has been barred by imitation while adding that it is seeking managerial and Sheriat rights. It said that the Babri mosque was built by Mir Baqi and it is inappropriate for the court to get into the area of theology.
The court said the judgement was unanimous and there were no dissenting judges in the five-member bench and the Chief Justice took 30 minutes to read out the operative parts of the judgment going through the genesis of the case.
The courts said that Nirmohi Akhara, whose suit has been barred by limitation, be given a place in the trust to be formed by the Central Government to sort out the issue. It said 5 acres of land be allotted the Sunni Waqf Board in Ayodya and it asked the Centre to formulate a scheme, set up a board of trustees and hand over the inner and out courtyard to the trust.
The court also observed that the Allahabad High Court verdict giving land to the Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara was wrong and said the disputed area was a composite site. It said while Muslims have not been able to establish their exclusive rights over the dispute site, prior to 1856 there was no bar on Hindus worshiping in the inner courtyard. And there was evidence that Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi were worshiped before the British arrived. But travelogues and gazateers cannot be the basis for adjudication of title suits.
While the Solicitor general Tushar Mehta thanked the court for having solved a vexatious issue and lawyers of the Hindu parties congratulated each other, Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for the other side said he had no comment. ‘Only Gilani can comment’ he said. The court said a mediation team led by Justice Khlifullah had come very near a solution but could not solve it but appreciated their efforts.