The Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya title suit comes nine years after the 2:1 judgement of the Allahabad High Court that ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of land between the three parties -- Ram Lalla, Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara.
The Lucknow Bench of the High Court, on September 30, 2010, held that Hindus and Muslims as joint title holders of the disputed land.
The High Court held that the land below the central dome, where idols of Lord Ram and other gods have been placed in a makeshift temple, belongs to Hindus.
The three judges agreed that Hindus should get the portion under the central dome.
The Allahabad High Court judgement ran into excess of 6,000 pages.
The High Court verdict was challenged in the Supreme Court, which ordered a stay on it on May 9, 2011.
Advancing their arguments in Supreme Court, the Hindus parties have told the apex court that the faith of Hindus cannot be partitioned and claimed possession over the entire dispute site.
Nirmohi Akhara, which claims to be 'Shebait' (a devotee who serves the deity), has contested the maintainability of the Ram Lalla lawsuit.
Akhara has told the apex court that the piece of land is the birthplace of Lord Ram and it belongs to it.
"It (the place) is in possession of the Akhara which was also acting as its Manager through its Mahant and Sarbrahkar who had been managing and receiving offering, " said Akhara in its pleadings.
Ram Lalla counsels argued that Shebait for the time being is the only person competent to safeguard the interests of the idol, his possession of the dedicated property is the possession of the idol.
"And, no dealing of his (Shebait) with the property dedicated to the idol could afford the basis of a claim by him for adverse possession of the property against the idol," claimed Ram Lalla counsels while vehemently stating that the land under the central dome of the disputed site is a juristic entity, which is subject to law; and it is revered among Hindus for its divinity.
The Muslim parties' counsel have majorly argued in reply to Hindu parties' lawsuits.
"The present suits concerning the disputed structure along with the inner and outer courtyard were all filed with different prayers. While Suit 1 was filed solely for claiming right to worship, Suit 3 (Nirmohi Akhara) was filed for emanagement & charge' of the alleged temple. It is only in Suit 4 (Sunni Waqf Board) and Suit 5 (Ram Lalla) that the parties claimed title of the disputed property", claimed the Muslim side.
Sunni Waqf Board expressed its dissatisfaction with High Court judgement.
It claimed that the title of the mosque vests with the almighty, and the mosque being a Sunni Waqf is covered within the supervisory sphere of the board.
The Sunni Waqf Board in its suit prayed for a declaration that the disputed site was a public mosque.
Earlier, the Supreme Court ordered mediation to resolve the vexed issue but it failed. Finally in August, the top court began hearing in the case.
This politically-sensitive matter has already been the second-longest case heard by the apex court in its history.
Hindus' evidence on better footing than Muslims, says SC
The Supreme Court on Saturday held that the "possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence from the Muslims," while emphasising on tolerance and mutual co-existence, which play a crucial role to nourish the secular commitment of the country and its people.
The apex court ordered the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site by setting up a trust, while ordering five acres be given to Muslims in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.
The five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, observed the allotment of land to the Muslims is necessary "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 Supreme Court, in its ruling on Ayodhya, took account the balance of probabilities, where it saw clear evidence the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard continued unimpeded in spite of the setting up of a grille-brick wall in 1857.
"The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure (the birthplace of Lord Ram) prior to 1857 since the date of the construction in the sixteenth century," observed the court.
The Hindus' possession of the outer courtyard stands established together with the incidents attaching to their control over it, it said.
The court observed in connection with the inner courtyard, there is evidence on a preponderance of probabilities to establish worship by the Hindus prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British in 1857.
The bench admitted that it is "is tasked with an adjudicatory task of unique dimension" and that the current dispute is over immovable property, and it 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. In deciding title to the disputed property, the court applies settled principles of evidence to adjudicate upon which party has established a claim to the immovable property," it observed.
While awarding relief to the Muslim side, the court exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, as it admitted its responsibility to ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied.
"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," said the court citing the Muslims were dispossessed upon the desecration of the mosque on December 22/23 1949 and it was ultimately destroyed on December 6, 1992.
The court observed it is necessary to provide restitution to the Muslim community for the unlawful destruction of their place of worship, and the court directed land measuring 5 acres be allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board either by the Central Government out of the acquired land or by the Government of Uttar Pradesh within the city of Ayodhya.
New dawn for country, says Modi on Ayodhya verdict
Hailing the Supreme Court verdict in Ayodhya title dispute case, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it marks a "new dawn" for the country where "fear, bitterness and negativity" should have no place.
In a televised address to the nation, he highlighted the date - November 9 - on which the historic judgement came, and noted it was on this day that the Berlin Wall had been brought down 30 years back and it is on this day that Kartarpur corridor was opened with Pakistan.
Noting that it had taken so long to resolve the Ayodhya dispute, the Prime Minister said it is time to think about the future now as the country has a lot of milestones to achieve.
#सर्वोच्चअदालत का ये फैसला हमारे लिए एक नया सवेरा लेकर आया है। इस विवाद का भले ही कई पीढ़ियों पर असर पड़ा हो, लेकिन इस फैसले के बाद हमें ये संकल्प करना होगा कि अब नई पीढ़ी, नए सिरे से न्यू इंडिया के निर्माण में जुटेगी: PM @narendramodi— IANS Tweets (@ians_india) November 9, 2019
Photo: PMO India pic.twitter.com/XTMCq5RWUb
"This controversy may have affected many generations, but after this decision, we have to make a resolution that now a new generation will start building a new India... This decision of the Supreme Court has brought a new dawn for us," he said.
"Now as a society, every Indian has to work by giving priority to his duty. Harmony, unity and peace are very important for the development of the country," Modi emphasised.
Speaking about the Kartarpur corridor which was inaugurated earlier in the day, the Prime Minister compared it to bringing down of the iconic Berlin Wall.
आज #सुप्रीमकोर्ट ने एक ऐसे महत्वपूर्ण मामले पर फैसला सुनाया है, जिसके पीछे सैकड़ों वर्षों का एक इतिहास है।पूरे देश की ये इच्छा थी कि इस मामले की अदालत में हर रोज़ सुनवाई हो, जो हुई, और आज निर्णय आ चुका है: पीएम #मोदी#AYODHYAVERDICT— IANS Tweets (@ians_india) November 9, 2019
Photo: PIB India pic.twitter.com/PtfzhCIVIr
"November 9 was the date when the Berlin Wall fell in Germany. It marked the merging of two different ideologies. On November 9 today, the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was also opened which marked an understanding between India and Pakistan. The verdict of the Supreme Court on 9 November gives the lesson to move united on the path of progress," said Modi.
Peace is possible at the hands of leaders and politicians; it is them who have responsibility to lead way and educate nations. PM @ImranKhanPTI today leads from front as Pakistan spreads the message of peace and religious tolerance🇵🇰#KartarpurCorridor #PakistanOpensKartarpur pic.twitter.com/0tnOzHiacM— PTI (@PTIofficial) November 9, 2019
Everyone should work together to build Ram Temple: RSS chief
RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat on Saturday said that everyone should work together for construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya now that the Supreme Court has delivered its verdict in favour of the Hindus.
He was addressing the media here after the the historic verdict by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court that directed the Central government to form, within three months, a trust which will build a temple at the disputed site.
Bhagwat further said that it is for the government to decide the location where the Sunni Waqf Board will be provided five acres of land for construction of the mosque, as per the order of the Supreme Court.
"Don't look at this verdict through the prism of victory or defeat. The solution arrived at through the churning of truth and justice should be looked at as a decision that will bring about unity and friendship of the entire Indian society," he said.
Bhagwat also said that he hopes the government will soon initiate action to implement the decision of the Supreme Court.
"We believe the verdict passed by the Supreme Court in the direction of ending the dispute will be implemented by the government on an urgent basis," he said.