The first suit regarding the structure was filed in 1885, when the Faizabad Deputy Commissioner refused to let Mahant Raghubar Das build a temple on land adjoining the mosque. Das then filed a title suit in a Faizabad court against the Secretary of State for India, seeking permission to build a temple on the Chabutra on the outer courtyard of the Babri Masjid. The legal battle over the title has gone on for over a century.
The case timeline
1949: Idols of Ram Lalla are placed surreptitiously under the central dome.
1950: Gopal Simla Visharad files first suit in Faizabad civil court for rights to perform pooja to Ram Lalla.
1950: Paramahansa Ramachandra Das files a suit for continuation of pooja and keeping idols in the structure.
1959: Nirmohi Akhara files third suit, seeking direction to hand over charge of the disputed site. U.P. Sunni Central Wakf Board files fourth suit in 1961 for declaration and possession and fifth in 1989 in the name of Ram Lalla Virajman for declaration and possession.
1986: District judge orderes locks be removed. Site opened for Hindu worshippers.
1989: The four suits pending were transferred to the High Court.
1991: U.P. govt. acquires land around the structure for convenience of devotees who attend Ram Lalla darshan.
December 1992: Babri Masjid demolished by a frenzied mob of karsevaks. Two FIRs filed in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Crime no. 197 deals with actual “demolition of the mosque by karsevaks.” Crime no. 198 named L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others for ‘communal’ speeches before the demolition.
1993: Govt. takes over 67 acres of land around the area, seeks SC’s opinion on whether there existed a Hindu place of worship before the structure was built.
October, 1993: CBI files a composite charge sheet and accuses Advani and other leaders of ‘conspiracy’
1994: Case goes back to Lucknow Bench of HC, suits heard again from 1996.
May 4, 2001: Special Judge S.K. Shukla drops conspiracy charge against 13 accused, including Mr. Advani and Kalyan Singh. Bifurcates Crimes 197 and 198.
May 20, 2010:Advani, others absolved of conspiracy charges
Allahabad HC upholds May 4, 2001 special court order, dismisses the CBI’s revision petition for a direction to proceed with the conspiracy charge against Mr. Advani and others.
September 30, 2010: Allahabad HC awards two-thirds of Ayodhya site to Hindu parties, one-third to Waqf Board.
Also read: Disputed structure built against Islamic tenets: Justice D.V. Sharma | Judges were required to clear the “innumerable landmines...where angels fear to tread” : Justice S.U. Khan | Highlights of the judgments
February, 2011: CBI moves Supreme Court. Argues that “the actual demolition of the Babri Masjid and the continuous assault on media persons form a single connected transaction and can well be a concerted conspiracy”.
May 9, 2011: Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute.
December 25, 2014:Oldest litigant in Babri Masjid case passes away
Mohammad Farooq, a resident of Ayodhya, was one of the seven main litigants from Muslim side in the 1949 Babri Masjid case.
March 6, 2017: SC indicates it may revive conspiracy charge and order a joint trial of crimes 197 and 198.
March 21, 2017: Suggesting an out-of-court rapprochement among rival parties in the 68-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute , Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar advised peace negotiations instead of a pitched court battle, even offering help to settle the fight amicably.
March 23, 2017: A Supreme Court Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Rohinton Nariman posted for detailed hearing the CBI appeal against the dropping of the criminal conspiracy charge against veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani and other top party leaders after two weeks.
April 6, 2017: The Supreme Court indicated that it will use its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to transfer the Babri Masjid demolition related trial in Rae Bareilly against top BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to Lucknow, where a CBI court is hearing conspiracy and other serious criminal charges against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” for the actual act of razing down the 15th century mosque.
April 19, 2017 : The Supreme Court revived conspiracy charges against L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and 13 others in the 25-year-old Babri Masjid demolition cases.
May 30, 2017: L.K. Advani Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar charged with criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
August 8, 2017: Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board tells Supreme Court that they would settle for a masjid located in a “Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Sri Ram .” They tell the Court that the Babri Masjid was a Shia waqf (endowment) and their Sunni counterpart, who have been at the frontline of the 70-year-old title dispute, were mere interlopers led by “hardliners, fanatics and non-believers” who do not want an amicable settlement with the Hindu sects involved.
August 11, 2017: Supreme Court schedules hearing of 13 appeals in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute on December 5, 2017, the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 15th century mosque.
December 5, 2017: The Supreme Court refuses requests by appellant parties belonging to the minority community to defer the hearing in the Ramjanmabhoomi–Babri Masjid land dispute till after July 15, 2019 — that is, post the next general elections.
February 8, 2018: The Supreme Court conveys its clinical approach to the 70-year-old dispute, exhorting the parties on either side of the fence to treat it merely as a “land issue” .
March 23, 2018: Almost 24 years after the Supreme Court said a mosque has no “unique or special status” and is not an essential part of the practice of Islam and namaz , Muslim parties involved in the Ramjanmabhoomi title dispute wants the apex court to first re-consider its stand before going ahead with the hearing in the Babri Masjid case. In 1994, the Supreme Court observed that “Muslims can offer prayer anywhere, even in open”.
July 6, 2018: Uttar Pradesh government accuses Muslim appellants of trying to “delay” the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute hearing in the Supreme Court, saying religious sentiments of a large population are involved in the case.
September 27, 2018: A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority opinion of 2:1, declines to refer the question if a “mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam” in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid appeals to a seven-judge Bench.
October 29, 2018: A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, orders the Ayodhya dispute appeals to be listed in January 2019 before an appropriate Bench to fix a date for hearing. When parties sought an early hearing, the court says the decision when to start hearing the appeals would be in the realm of discretion of the “appropriate Bench” before which the matter would come up in January.
January 4: The Supreme Court says that an appropriate bench constituted by it will pass an order on January 10 for fixing the date of hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute title case at Ayodhya.
January 10:Justice U.U. Lalit recuses himself , Bench to fix time of hearings on January 29; Justice Lalit chooses to bow out after senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the U.P. Central Sunni Waqf Board, points out that the judge had appeared for the Kalyan Singh government in a criminal contempt case linked to the dispute sometime in 1997.
January 25: Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reconstitutes five-judge Constitution Bench.
January 27: The Supreme Court cancels hearing scheduled for January 29 as one of the judges, Justice S.A. Bobde, is not available on the day.
February 20: Supreme Court decides to hear the Ayodhya appeals on February 26 .
February 26: Five-judge Constitution Bench proposes sending the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid legal battle to mediation for a period of eight weeks.
March 6: Five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi reserves orders on the question whether the decades-old dispute, primarily between the Hindu and Muslim communities, should be sent for mediation.
March 7: Supreme Court to rule on mediation on March 8.
March 8: Supreme Court sends Ayodhya dispute for mediation in camera, appoints a panel of mediators, comprising former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla as chairman, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Sriram Panchu, a senior advocate with experience in alternative dispute resolution.
August 2: Efforts to mediate a final settlement between rival Hindu and Muslim parties in the Ayodhya title dispute cases had failed, a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi says; Court to hear appeals from August 6 on a day-to-day basis. | Ayodhya mediation was close to a settlement
August 6: Constitution Bench begins hearing 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; Nirmohi Akhara lays claim to Ram Janmabhoomi
August 7: “Whether Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem... Has such a question ever arisen in any court,” Justice S.A. Bobde asks; Unshakeable faith is proof of Rama’s birthplace , says Ram Lalla‘s lawyer.
August 8: Can birthplace be considered a ‘juristic person’ , asks Supreme Court.
August 9: Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, said he will “not be able to assist” the court if the hearing is “rushed through” .
August 13:We’re in no hurry to finish Ayodhya hearing , says Supreme Court.
August 14: Supreme Court poses queries to Hindu parties’ counsel.
August 16:Prove that Babri Masjid was built over a temple , Supreme Court tells Hindu parties.
August 19: No hearing as Constitution bench judge unavailable.
August 20: Inscription on mosque slab spoke of Vishnu temple , Supreme Court told.
August 21: Present evidence on temple claim, Supreme Court tells lawyers .
August 22:Hindus have an “unfettered” right to worship at a site believed for centuries to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, appellant Gopal Singh Visharad tells court.
August 27: Nirmohi Akhara drops objection to a separate suit for title filed by the Ayodhya deity .
August 28: Babur may not have built Babri Masjid , Supreme Court told.
August 30: Emperor Babur was an invader and law could not be used to “institutionalise” the rights of an invader, the Hindu Mahasabha argues ; Shia Waqf Board questions claim of Sunni section over the disputed land.
September 3: Installation of idols inside Babri Masjid in the intervening night of December 22-23 of 1949, which marked the beginning of heightened tensions and legal battle, was a “surreptitious attack” , senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan claims. | SC notice to Chennai man for allegedly intimidating Rajeev Dhavan
September 4:Hindus and Muslims “alike used to worship in the mosque-temple” , Rajeev Dhavan tells Supreme Court. | SC to look into litigant’s complaint of intimidation
September 14:A devotee’s faith cannot be questioned , says Supreme Court
September 16: Ayodhya parties want talks to resume , mediation panel tells Supreme Court
September 17: Hindu parties’ arguments based on theology rather than legality and concrete proof , says Rajeev Dhavan
September 20: Bench decides to hear the case after regular court hours, till 5 p.m. , on September 23.
September 23: The Bench says the faith of Hindus in the Ram Janmabhoomi had been a constant and it would be hard to rebut their belief , while questioning senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Muslim parties, on whether the divinity and the “exact form” of an idol or a deity were necessary to hold that they had a “juristic personality”.
September 24: The Muslim side in the title dispute case says Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya and accepts that Ram Chabutra (a platform) is his exact birth spot.
September 25: The Muslim parties argue that the 2003 Archaeological Study of India (ASI) report on the excavations at the Babri Masjid site, which reported traces of a large structure pre-existing the Babri Masjid, is filled with “palpable and inherent” infirmities and inconsistencies. But the Bench says the ASI report can’t be contested now and should have been objected to in the Allahabad High Court, which had commissioned the excavations.
September 26: Supreme Court judge, Justice S.A. Bobde, said the court cannot be expected to re-construct the history of the Babri Masjid site from ruins, and dropped the penny that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) findings may not be “authoritative”.
September 30: The Supreme Court asked the Ayodhya deity’s lawyer why the Hindus insist the disputed land is divine. The court questioned why the Hindu parties want the disputed land to be recognised not only as a separate juristic person but also as a divinity.
October 14: Sheer belief that Lord Ram was born exactly under the central dome of Babri Masjid, demolished in 1992 by kar sevaks, does not give the Hindus the title or ownership of the disputed land, senior advocate Rajeev Djavan submitted before the Ayodhya Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday.
October 16: Supreme Court reserves verdict after 40-day marathon hearing | Ayodhya mediation panel files settlement document in Supreme Court
November 8:Supreme Court to pronounce verdict in the Ayodhya appeals case on November 9.
November 9:Temple at disputed site, alternative land for mosque , rules Supreme Court; Centre told to formulate a scheme within three months and set up a trust to manage the property and construct a temple. | Ayodhya verdict: All you need to know
February 5, 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tells Lok Sabha that the Cabinet had approved a scheme for the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya by setting up an autonomous trust, Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, to take forward the process as per the Supreme Court’s orders. | Ministry of Home Affairs notifies Ram temple trust | 5 acres given for building mosque in Ayodhya’s Dhannipur village
February 24, 2020: The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board decides to accept the five acres of land allotted to it by the State government for building a mosque in Dhannipur village in Sohawal tehsil of Ayodhya, around 25 km from the site where the Babri Masjid stood.
July 30, 2020: The Trust to build a mosque in Ayodhya, following the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit, would have a maximum of 15 members, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board announces as it constitutes the body.
August 5, 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone of the Ram temple to launch the construction of the temple in Ayodhya.
October 25, 2023: Office bearers of the Shri Ram Janma Bhoomi Tirtha Kshetra along with religious leaders invite PM Modi to attend inauguration of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024
(With inputs from Krishnadas Rajagopal and PTI)
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