The disputed land in Ayodhya will be given to a government-run trust for a temple and a “prominent site” in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh will be allotted for a mosque, The Supreme Court announced today in a landmark verdict in India’s most divisive case dating back decades.
The court said it had been tasked with the resolution of a dispute “whose origins were as old as the idea of India itself”. The deity Ram Lalla, or infant Ram, one of the litigants in the case, has been given the ownership of the 2.77-acre disputed land. But “the right of Ram Lalla to the disputed property is subject to the maintenance of peace and law and order and tranquility,” said five judges led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a unanimous verdict.
The Sunni Waqf Board will be given a five-acre “suitable” plot to build a new mosque. This was necessary because the court “must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied,” The judges said, adding that “tolerance and mutual co-existence nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people”. A trust or board run by the government should be formed within three months for the building of a temple, said the court.
The Ayodhya verdict comes after a century-old legal wrangle over the land where the 16th century Babri mosque stood before it was razed by Hindu activists who believe it is the birthplace of Lord Ram.The mosque demolition was a violation of the law,The Supreme Court said.
However,Hindu petitioners had established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard at the site and the Sunni Waqf Board had failed to establish its case,The judges ruled.
The faith of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the site of the demolished structure is undisputed,The court said, and the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are testimony to the religious fact of the place.However, the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute, said the five judges.
While delivering the Ayodhya verdict, the judges referred to a report by The Archeological Survey of India,which they said confirmed that a structure existed underneath the mosque but did not specify whether it was a temple.
There have been appeals for peace and heightened security across the country because of the verdict, which had to be delivered before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17.
The five-judge constitution bench heard the case for 40 days.The other members of the bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer