Ayodhya verdict: Understanding the Supreme Court judgment

The Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque. Here’s a look at the important aspects of the landmark judgment that analysed the claims in the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid case.

1. Paving the way for the Ram temple, the SC directed that the possession of the disputed 2.77-acre land was Ram Lalla Virajman’s (the personification of the Hindu God), whom it identified as a juristic person. The Centre must within three months formulate a scheme to set up a trust and hand the land to it. “[It] shall make necessary provisions in regard to the functioning of the trust or body including… the construction of a temple and all necessary… matters,” the apex court said.

2. The court directed the Centre and UP government to allot 5 acres of land at an alternative site in Ayodhya within three months to the Sunni Central Waqf Board to construct a mosque. “The land shall be allotted either by the Central government out of the land acquired under the Ayodhya Act 1993 or the state govt (UP) at a suitable prominent place in Ayodhya… The Sunni Central Waqf Board would be at liberty… to take all necessary steps for the construction of a mosque,” the court said.

3. The decision relied on evidence of possession of the disputed land. “Hindu worship at Ramchabutra, Sita Rasoi and at other religious places… clearly indicated their open, exclusive and unimpeded possession of the outer courtyard,” it said. The SC also went by its understanding that namaz was not offered continuously in the inner section before 1857. In contrast, evidence points to continuous worship by the Hindus. Thus, it found Ram Lalla as having a better claim to possession than Sunni Waqf Board.

4. The SC said the land being given to Muslims was because of the illegal demolition of the mosque. It said: “The Muslims were dispossessed upon the desecration of the mosque on Dec 22-23, 1949 which was ultimately destroyed on 6 Dec 1992… This court… must ensure that a wrong committed is remedied. Justice would not prevail if the court were to overlook the entitlement of Muslims who’ve been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed.”

5. Setting aside the 2010 Allahabad high court verdict that trifurcated the disputed site among the Sunni Waqf Board, Ram Lalla Virajman and Nirmohi Akhara, the SC said the ruling “defies logic and is contrary to settled principles of law.” The apex court said that the “three-way bifurcation by the HC was legally unsustainable”. It held that “the high court was called upon to decide the question of title, particularly in the suits… But the high court adopted a path not open to it.”

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