A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on November 9 delivered its judgment in the cross-appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim sides challenging the three-way partition of the disputed 2.77 acres of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board in September 2010.
In a unanimous judgment, the Bench has ordered that a temple must be constructed at the disputed site and the Muslims must be compensated with five acres of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya. The court also ordered the Central government to formulate a scheme within three months to implement this order.
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Click here to read/download the full text of the verdict as PDF.
The Supreme Court refers to Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, which prohibits conversion of any place of worship, to say that all religions are equal.
At the heart of the Constitution is the commitment to equality. Constitution does not distinguish between one faith and another, says the CJI.
On faith of Hindus
On the faith of Hindus, the Supreme Court observes: There is consistent proof that Hindus considered Ayodhya the birthplace of Ram. Hindus believed Ram was born under the central dome of the demolished mosque. Testimonies, even in cross examination, did not disprove Hindus' faith in birthplace as not genuine.
Once evidence is there of the belief/faith that Ramjanmabhoomi is the birthplace of Ram, court has to acknowledge it. Beyond the ken of the court to probe whether the belief is justified. Court cannot go by theology but only on evidence and balance of probabilities.
There is historical evidence to prove the presence of worshippers at Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi and offering of prayers. This was a practice even before the British came. The adjudication of title is based on evidence and not travelogues, gazette entries.
The construction of the railings on the premises was ostensibly to maintain peace. But the fact that Hindus leaned over the railings to offer worship at the direction of the mosque's central suggests their force of belief/faith that Ram was born there.
SC accepts ASI findings
Accepting the ASI's report, the Supreme Court states that the mosque was not constructed on vacant land. It observes, the pre-existing structure was large and Babri pillars prove a pre-existing structure. Pre-existing structure was not on Islamic and the artefacts collected show earlier structure was non-Islamic.
Balance of probabilities suggest pre-existence of temple. But the ASI has refrained from saying temple was demolished. It only says material was used for constructing mosque.
Both Hindus and Muslims cannot explain what the disputed land was used for from 12th to 16th century.
The Supreme Court Bench says the three-way partition of the Ramjanmabhoomi by the Allahabad High Court defies logic.
The Supreme Court says the damage caused to Babri Masjid in 1934 and the desecration in 1949 violates the rule of law. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 during the pendency of the suits is condemnable.
Muslims have not been able to prove their possession on the dispute property as a composite whole, the verdict says. No proof to show Muslim possession was exclusive.
The Sunni Waqf Board's claim that the disputed premises was a waqf is a mirror image of the Hindus' claim that the Ramjanmabhoomi is a legal personality. Both contentions have been rejected.
Prohibitory orders have been issued across Delhi to maintain public order.
Temple at disputed site, mosque at a prominent place
The demolition of mosque in 1992 was a violation of law, says the Bench. It orders government to provide alternative land for Muslims.
The Bench orders that a temple will be constructed on the disputed land. It orders the Centre to formulate a scheme within three months under the Ayodhya Act 1993. The scheme will have a Trust for management and construction of temple. Both the inner courtyard and the outer courtyard will be handed over to this Trust. The Centre will give the rest of the land to the Trust.
Muslims will be awarded five acre of alternative land in a suitable, prominent place.
Till the Trust is formed, the ownership of the site will rest with the Centre.
The suit filed by Nirmohi Akhara for sherbaiti rights has been time barred and hence dismissed.
Mumbai Police forbids unlawful assembly from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 11 a.m. on Sunday under provisions of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as a precautionary measure in light of Ayodhya verdict.
'Babri Masjid was not built on a vacant land'
Quoting the ASI report, the Bench says the underlying structure in the disputed site was not of Islamic origin, however the report does not support whether the temple was demolished, the Bench says.
The court also says the mosque was not built on a vacant land, as claimed by the Muslim parties.
There is clear evidence the Hindus believed Ram was born in the disputed site, the CJI says.
There is evidence that Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi was worshipped by the Hindus even before the British came. However, travelogues and gazetteers cannot be the basis of adjudication of title, the Bench says.
The mosque was neither abandoned nor seceded by the Muslims, the court observes.
However, the court says the Muslims could not prove exclusive possession of the property.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi while reading out judgment says, this court must accept faith and accept belief of worshippers. Court should preserve balance.
The CJI says Ramjanmabhoomi is not a legal personality. The deity is a juridical person.
The Bench rules that the Nirmohi Akhara is not a Shabait, the custodian of the deity. It was only of management, the court says.
The proceedings begin in Supreme Court. The five-judge Constitution Bench begins reading out the verdict.
The first one to be taken up is the dispute between Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards. Both of them claimed the Babri masjid that once stood in the disputed site belonged to them. The Shia Board was even ready to give up the land to the Hindus in lieu of another place, but the Sunnis were opposed to it.
The Allahabad High Court had award one-third of the land to the Sunni Wakf Board.
In a unanimous decision, Shia petition has been dismissed.
#HinduMuslimBhaiBhai trends on Twitter
As the nation awaits the Ayodhya verdict, #HinduMuslimBhaiBhai began trending on Twitter. The Twitteratti used the platform to spread love and harmony.
Images of Hindus and Muslims playing together were also being shared.
Security around Supreme Court beefed up
Security in and around the Supreme Court was increased on Saturday ahead of the judgment in the politically sensitive Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, with barricades being put on roads leading to the apex court’s premises.
The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce the judgment at 10:30 am.
A strong posse of security personnel have been deployed around the court complex and vehicles and pedestrians are being subjected to full checks.
Security outside the residences of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, who are part of the five-judge Constitution Bench, which will deliver the judgment, has also been beefed up by the Delhi Police.
Congress leaders to meet Saturday morning, ahead of Ayodhya verdict
Congress top brass would be meeting on Saturday morning to discuss its strategy in the wake of the Ayodhya verdict by the Supreme Court.
Congress general secretary organisation KC Venugopal said the meeting of the CWC would be held tomorrow morning. It was earlier to be held on Sunday.
“The CWC meeting has been rescheduled to tomorrow 09.11.19, 0945 am at 10 Janpath. CWC members, Permanent Invitees & Special invitees will be attending the meeting,” Mr. Venugopal tweeted.
Madhya Pradesh tightens inter-State border vigil
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bala Bachchan has directed the police to step up vigil along inter-State borders, regulate the social media and crackdown on rabble-rousers as part of a string of precautionary measures ahead of the Ayodhya case verdict.
“Shanti samiti meetings were organised at the mohalla-level to quell fear among people and foster a peaceful atmosphere,” said Director General of Police V.K. Singh.
All the vulnerable areas had been identified based on previous incidents of violence there and Section 144 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973, prohibiting unlawful assembly, had been imposed across the State, he added.
Meanwhile, the Bhopal district administration has constituted a six-member core group comprising government officials and college professors to monitor the social media in coordination with the cyber cell of the police. - Sidharth Yadav
Ayodhya gears up for the verdict
Amid heavy security presence, life kicked off at a slow pace in Ayodhya.
As most of the areas in the vicinity of the disputed site were barricaded and vehicle entry barred, the civilian presence was noticeably thin.
Several restrictions have been put in place and bylanes leading to mixed population areas such as Tedhi Bazar, were also barricaded.
Darshan at the Hanuman Garhi temple and the makeshift Ram temple went on as usual with pilgrims trickling in towards the sensitive area, marked as a high-security red zone by the administration. - Omar Rashid
Leaders appeal for calm
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took to Twitter to remind the nation of social harmony and love. "As you are all aware, the Supreme Court today is going to deliver its verdict on the Ayodha issue. No matter what the verdict is at this hour, all of us have a responsibility to uphold the age old tradition of country's unity, social harmony and love for one another.
"This is Mahatma Gandhi's country and it is our duty to send a message of peace and non violence," she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday appealed for calm and unity on the eve of the verdict of the Ayodhya land dispute case and said the judgement should not be seen either as victory or defeat for anyone.
Uttar Pradesh on high alert
Uttar Pradesh government has announced closure of all educational and training institutes till Monday.
Temporary jails in every district have been created while internet services may be banned in some places to check spread of rumours through social media.
The Union Home Ministry is in regular correspondence with the state government and has provided 4,000 central paramilitary personnel for deployment in Uttar Pradesh, a senior official said.
Special vigil is being maintained on more than 670 people on social media and if need arises internet can be stopped to check spread of rumours, an official said.
The state government has identified 31 districts as sensitive while Section 144 under CrPC, prohibiting gathering of five or more persons, has already been imposed across Uttar Pradesh. - PTI
U.P Police has cautioned its personnel in the wake of Ayodhya verdict. It has asked staff maintaining the official Twitter handles to only directly message anyone whose posts are objectionable and asked them to not take any action where users are merely expressing their views and emotions. - Vijaita Singh
The judgment comes after a marathon 40-day hearing . The five judges took less than a month to deliver the judgment. Chief Justice Gogoi is retiring on November 17.
The Bench, other than Chief Justice Gogoi, comprised Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.
Decoding Allahabad HC's nine-year-old majority judgment under challenge in SC
It is important to decipher the final conclusions of the high court and individual findings of each of the three judges on the Bench – Justices S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D.V. Sharma – to understand the issues at stake before the apex court in the nearly century-old dispute which has transgressed cultures, religions and faith of the people, namely the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Nine years ago, the high court had concluded that both Hindus and Muslims were joint title holders of the disputed property. It divided the property among the Hindus, Muslims and a religious sect called the Nirmohi Akhara, which claimed that it had been managing the worship at the site for time immemorial. The court had declared that Muslims should not receive a share less than one-third of the disputed premises.
The story so far
A Constitution Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India is set to deliver the verdict in the seven-decade-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case. A civil dispute on who owns the title of 67.703 acres of land in Ayodhya has, over the years, turned into a religious and political battle.
Though one of the first civil suits in this matter was filed in the 1950s, the legal battle can be traced back to the British era.