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Analysis of “Ayodhya Verdict: Ram Mandir – Babri Masjid case”

                                                                                                                                  –Sneha Mahawar

                                                    

Questions on the Ayodhya Dispute

The first question which arises when the topic ‘Ayodhya’ is introduced is that – ‘Was there a Mandir before or was there a Masjid before?’ The second question is to find out the ownership of the property, which is who the actual owner of the Ayodhya land is? Thirdly, why is this dispute so complicated? The fourth question brings into the picture the verdict of Allahabad High Court, and what was the verdict of the Allahabad High Court, and why was it discarded and not implemented? The fifth question is to know about the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report, which is What was the release of the Archaeological Survey of India? The sixth question is the real deal; that is what the demands of the parties of the matter of dispute are? The seventh question is, why did mediation fail? Lastly, what impact would the Supreme Court’s verdict create on the public? 

Introduction and Background of the Ayodhya Dispute

The Hindus considered Ayodhya as the birthplace of Lord Ram, the Hindu deity whereas, the Muslims considered as a place where there was a Mosque named Babri Masjid built as a tribute towards a Mughal Emperor, Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur (often called as Babur), by his commander Mir Baqi. The dispute began when the locals said that the Babri Masjid was constructed after demolishing a temple of Lord Ram. This led to a series of events that included violence, riots, massacre, demolition of the Babri Masjid, placing the idol of Lord Ram inside the mosque in the middle of the night, and many other illegal acts which increased the differences between the Hindu-Muslim community. Civil suits were filed in Courts, and many efforts were put in to resolve the dispute outside the Court, but all the settlements failed. High Courts decision of Faizabad and Allahabad were considered unsustainable, and a ‘stay’ was put on those judgements. Finally, the Supreme Court of India had to interfere with bringing the parties to a settlement. It suggested the settlement via a mediation panel, but that failed too. Lastly, after a hearing of 40 long days, the Supreme Court of India delivered its verdict. 

Timeline of the Ayodhya Dispute

1528 → Babri Masjid was constructed

1853 – 1859 → Hindu-Muslim riots began

1885 → First time Hindu-Muslim Ayodhya dispute case reaches Court

1949 → Idol of Lord Ram was placed inside the Babri Masjid.

1950 → A case was filed by Mahanta Ram Chandra Das on the grounds of ‘Right to Worship.’

1959 → A case was filed by the Nirmohi Akhara, stating the right to possess the entire area of the disputed property.

1961 → A case was filed by the Sunni Waqf Board asking for the right of possession of the Babri Masjid area.

1986 → Faizabad Court delivered a judgement that gave Hindus the right to worship in this area.

1989 → A case was filed under the name ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’. They also demanded possession over the entire area of the Ayodhya disputed property.

1990 → BJP Minister Lal Krishna Advani takes out a procession of Rath Yatra (chariot journey) from Somnath, Gujrat to Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

1991 → To control tension and rage in the country, the Government of Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh takes over the entire area of Ayodhya disputed land under its control.

1992 → Babri Masjid was demolished. (6th December 1992)

1992 → A Liberhan Commission was appointed to investigate the destruction of the Babri Masjid and people to be held responsible. (16th December 1992)

1993 → The Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act was passed due to the acquisition of land in the disputed area. Ismail Faruqui, along with others, filed a petition challenging some aspects of the Act.

1994 → The Supreme Court in the Ismail Faruqui case held that mosque is not integral to Islam as namaz can be offered anywhere.

2002 → ‘Ayodhya Vibhag’ was formed to resolve the differences between the Hindu-Muslim community and to reach a permanent solution that shall benefit both the committees with mere talking and without any violence.

2002 → A three-judge bench was constituted in the Allahabad High Court to decide the possession or ownership of the disputed Ayodhya area. It asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to submit its report. (April)

2010 → The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court delivered a historical judgement. (30th September 2010)

2011 → The Supreme Court of India put a ‘stay’ order on the judgement delivered by the Allahabad High Court. (9th May 2011)

2016 → A case was filed by Subramaniam Swamy in the Supreme Court for the construction of Ram Mandir on the disputed land. (February)

2017 → Then the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Supreme Court, Justice Jadish Singh Khehar, suggested resolving the whole Ayodhya dispute outside the Court with a settlement. (March)

2017 → Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Lal Krishna Advani, Vinay Katiyar were accused of criminal conspiracy for the demolition of Babri Masjid. (May)

2017 → Against the judgement delivered by the Allahabad High Court, there were 32 appeals in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of India stated that the hearing on this matter of Ayodhya dispute would begin from January 2019. (December)

2019 → A mediation panel was made by the Supreme Court of India. (8th March 2019)

2019 → The mediation panel submits the final report to the Supreme Court of India. (May)

2019 → Hearing of 40 long days at the Supreme Court. (6th August 2019 – 14th October 2019 → The Supreme Court gave its verdict on Ayodhya Dispute. (9th November 2019)

2020 → The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Ram Mandir Bhoomi puja ceremony. (5th August 2020)

Analysis of the anecdote: The Ayodhya Dispute

Both the Hindus and the Muslims have different stories on the Ayodhya Dispute. The story that lives finally is that in the year 1528, during the reign of Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur (often called as Babur), a Mughal Emperor the Babri Majid was constructed by the commander of Babur, Mir Baqi as a tribute towards Babur. The locals of the area believed that the Masjid was built by demolishing a Mandir of Lord Ram. This led to the beginning of riots between the community of Muslims and Hindus during the years 1853 – 1859. To put a stop on these riots between the community of Hindus and Muslims, the British Government intruded and divided the entire area into two parts. The division was such that the inner area would be given to the Muslims, and the outer area will be given to the Hindus.

In the year 1885, the matter of Hindu-Muslim rage of Ayodhya reaches the Court for the first time when Mahanta Raghubir Das filed a case to obtain permission for constructing a chat (roof) in the outer area to worship. This plea was dismissed.

In the year 1949, an idol of Lord Ram was placed in the central part of the Masjid which was considered as an actual place of birth of Lord Ram. After the idol was placed in the Masjid’s central part, Hindus started worshipping that part as well. The agitation and rage between the communities increased at an increasing pace. To control the Hindu-Muslim situation, the Government banned the entry and exit in the entire area of dispute. The whole area was sealed and closed for the public either be a Hindu or a Muslim. Many civil cases were filed to remove the ban imposed by the Government on the disputed property of Ayodhya. The cases were, In the year 1950, Mahanta Ram Chandra Das filed a lawsuit on the grounds of ‘Right to worship’. In the year 1959, a case was filed by the Nirmohi Akhara, stating the right to possess the entire area of the disputed property. In the year 1961, a lawsuit was filed by the Sunni Waqf Board asking for the right of possession of the Babri Masjid area. The Faizabad Court delivered a verdict in the year 1986, which gave Hindus the right to worship in this area. The Muslim community got agitated at this verdict. It formed a committee ‘Babri Masjid Action Committee’ along with which to stay upfront Hindus formed a committee named ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ for the formation of Ram Mandir.

Then in the year 1989, another case was filed under the name ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’. They also demanded possession over the entire area of the Ayodhya disputed property.

In the year 1990, then the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Minister Lal Krishna Advani took out a procession of Rath Yatra (chariot journey) from Somnath, Gujrat to Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. This procession triggered religious violence, and as a result, Lal Krishna Advani was arrested in Bihar. The situation led to the killings of thousands of people due to the violence in the country. At that time, Lal Krishna Advani was the Senior Minister of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and then the Government in power was of Vishwanath Pratap Singh. As Lal Krishna Advani was arrested, to revoke his arrest orders Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled its support from the government of Vishwanath Pratap Singh. This led to early elections, which were beneficial for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the year 1991, to control tension and rage in the country, the Government of Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh took over the entire area of Ayodhya disputed land under its control.

The next most significant event took place on the 6th of December 1992. On this date, thousands of kar sevaks reached Ayodhya and demolished the Babri Masjid. In the same place, the kar sevaks constructed a temporary Ram Mandir. After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the riots were at its peak in the country.

On 16th December 1992, a Liberhan Commission was appointed to investigate the destruction of the Babri Masjid and people to be held responsible. The government in power was the Congress government under Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. The Congress Government proposed that a Mandir of Lord Ram, a Masjid, a library, a museum along with other facilities shall be constructed in the disputed area of Ayodhya. This proposal made by the Congress government was vehemently opposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the year 2002, the government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, and our former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, started ‘Ayodhya Vibhag’. The main motive, objective, and purpose of forming ‘Ayodhya Vibhag’ were to resolve the differences between the Hindu-Muslim community and to reach a permanent solution that shall benefit both the committees with mere talking and without any violence.

In April 2002, a three-judge bench was constituted in the Allahabad High Court to decide the possession or ownership of the disputed Ayodhya area. The three judges appointed were Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Justice Sibghat Ullah Khan, and Justice Dharam Veer Sharma. The Allahabad High Court asks the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to submit a report on the investigation of the Ayodhya-Babri disputed area for the Court hearing. The report provided by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) forms a timeline stating that in the 12th century there was a mandir in the disputed area and in the year 1528, in the same area a masjid was constructed. It also stated that the duration between the 12th century and the year 1528 that is approximately 300 years, has no evidence of a standing mandir or a masjid on the disputed land. Hence, the final report stated that after connecting the dots and the interaction with the local public, it could be concluded that the Babri Masjid was constructed after demolishing the Mandir.

On 30th September 2010, after taking into consideration all the reports and evidence, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court delivered a historical judgement. The verdict delivered by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court was that the entire disputed area should be divided into three parts. The first part of ‘Ram Murti’ was given to ‘Ram Lalla Virajman.’ The second part of ‘Sita Rasoi, Bhandara and Ram Chabutra’ was given to ‘Nirmohi Akhara.’ The remaining portion was given to the ‘Sunni Waqf Board’.

On 9th May 2011, the Supreme Court of India put a stay on the judgemnt delivered by the Allahabad High Court. In February 2016, Subramaniam Swamy filed a case in the Supreme Court for the construction of Ram Mandir on the disputed land.

In March 2017, then the Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Justice Jadish Singh Khehar, suggested resolving the whole Ayodhya dispute outside the Court with a settlement. Against the judgement delivered by the Allahabad High Court, there were 32 appeals in the Supreme Court by December 2017. The Supreme Court of India stated that the hearing on this matter of Ayodhya dispute would begin from January 2019. The Supreme Court of India composed a five-judge bench for the hearing of this case. The judges appointed were Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhusan, and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.

On the 8th of March, 2019 the Supreme Court of India made a mediation panel of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sr. Adv. Sriram Panchu, and Retd. J. FMI Kalifulla and asks to settle the matter via a Court regulated mediation.

In May 2019, the mediation panel submitted the final report to the Supreme Court of India. After the submission of the report by the mediation panel, there was a hearing of 40 days at the Supreme Court regarding the Ayodhya dispute. The dates were 6th August 2019 – 14th October 2019 of the hearing. After the hearing was completed, the Supreme Court reserves its verdict and asks the parties to submit ‘Moulding of Reli.’’. ‘Moulding of Relief’ means that in case the Court cannot provide the party with what it prays for, then what is the alternative or prayer or remedy they desire. Here, the Nirmohi Akhara was represented by Sunil Kumar Jain, Rajeev Dhawan represented the Sunni Waqf, and C.S. Vaidyanathan represented Ram Lalla Virajman.

Nirmohi Akhara stated that since 1934 the possession of the inner courtyard should be given to them, but they had no documentation for stating their claim. Sunni Waqf Board said that till the 6th of December, 1992 the disputed area had a Masjid, which shall be taken into consideration. It further stated that in the year 1949, in the middle of the night, the idol of Lord Ram was illegally placed inside the Masjid. The Sunni Waqf also stated that ‘Ram Chabutara’ is worshipped by the Hindus, which is the actual birthplace of Lord Ram, and they have no objections, but the inner courtyard shall be given to the Sunni Waqf Board. Ram Lalla Virajman stated that the disputed land also constituted Ram Mandir, which was demolished for constructing Babri Masjid. Moreover, they said that since 1949, when the idol of Lord Ram was placed in the Masjid, the Hindus have a right over the area. They further state that as per the report submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), it shows that the pillars, slabs of Babri Masjid had sculptures of Hindu.

Hence, the Supreme Court of India stated that the possession or ownership of the land could not be decided based on hearsay or a mere report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The actual ownership of the property can only be determined based on evidence and legal principles. And evidence shows that even when there was a Masjid, no Hindu was stopped from worshipping in that area. The Supreme Court stated that the stay order was put on the judgement of Allahabad High Court as it was ‘unsustainable’ because no party asked for the relief which was provided by the Allahabad High Court. The Supreme Court declared that as the majority of the case is based on historical facts and figures, so relying on the probabilities, and it was settled that the Hindus have been worshipping in the outer area since 1857. The Court also declared that the stop on the Muslim reading namaz in the disputed territory had been imposed from the year 1949, which is deprivation of the right to worship.

Thus, the Supreme Court uses the power confided in it by Article 142 of the Constitution of India. It was held that the area of about 2.77 acres on which Babri Masjid was built would be given to Ram Lalla Virajman for constructing Ram Mandir, and the Sunni Waqf Board will be given an alternate land of 5 acres for constructing mosque through the Central or the State government. Both parties shall receive the allotted area on the same day. On 5th August 2020, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Ram Mandir Bhoomi puja ceremony.
Ayodhya Verdict

The Ayodhya dispute arises from the year 1528, which falls more than 500 years back in time. This is the second-longest case of the Supreme Court of India, which stretched its hearing for 40 days.

The Supreme Court of India stated the ratio-decidendi (the reason for deciding) for delivering such a verdict. Firstly, the possession or ownership of any land cannot be determined based on hearsay or a mere report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The actual ownership of the property can only be decided based on evidence and legal principles. Secondly, the evidence shows that even when there was a Masjid on the disputed land no Hindu was ever stopped from worshipping in that area. Thirdly, the Supreme Court declared that as the majority of the case is based on historical facts and figures so relying on the probabilities, it is settled that the Hindus have been worshipping in the outer area since 1857. Lastly, Muslims also have a Right to worship, which was illegally deprived in the year 1949 when they were asked not to read namaz in the disputed area. Lastly, after taking into consideration the ‘Moulding of Relief’ as stated by the parties and other legal obligations, this was the kind of relief which the parties prayed for and was within the legal boundaries of the law. The judgement delivered by the Supreme Court of India holds historical importance.

The Supreme Court of India held that an area of disputed land of about 2.77 acres would be given to the Ram Lalla Virajman (Hindus) for constructing a temple of Lord Ram and an area of about 5 acres of another land will be given to the Sunni Waqf Board (Muslims) through the Central or the State government for constructing a mosque. It further stated that both the parties would receive the allotted land on the same day to avoid any kind of conflict.

To implement its verdict, the Supreme Court of India uses its power vested in it by Article 142 of the Constitution of India, which states the power of the Supreme Court to pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice.
Conclusion

Hence, the “Ayodhya Verdict” is the second-longest case in history between the Hindu-Muslim community, which led to disputes, violence, and riots for over 500 years. The debate was for the ownership of a piece of land where Lord Ram was born, and Babri Masjid was constructed. After struggling through various reforms, the Supreme Court has delivered its final verdict, and the ‘Ayodhya Dispute’ has finally reached a conclusion. 

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