In what will go down in history as one of its most landmark verdicts, the Supreme Court on Saturday granted the ownership of the 2.77 acres of disputed site in Ayodhya to the Hindus, paving the way for the construction of a Ram Temple, and ruled that the Muslims will get five acres of land at an alternative site.
A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi unanimously decided that the disputed land must be given to Hindus and ordered the central government to form a trust for the construction of a temple, bringing to a close the longest-drawn controversy in the country’s history that has become one of the most defining aspects of its polity.
Here are the salient points from the verdict:
1. The apex court ruled that Hindus will get land subject to conditions. The 2.77 acre complex will be handed over to the trust, which has to be formed in three months. The management of construction of the temple will be monitored by the trust. The Centre must appoint board of trustees within three months.
2. Muslims will get alternative land of five acres for the construction of a mosque. The apex court ruled that Muslims couldn’t prove exclusive possession of the inner structure, which was in contention, while the outer courtyard was in exclusive possession of the Hindus.
3. The SC held that the Allahabad High Court was wrong to divide the land between the three main parties – Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board – as the complex was a composite whole.
4. The landmark verdict was read out by a five-judge constitution bench led by CJI Gogoi and also comprising CJI-designate SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
5. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who retires on November 17, decided the date of the verdict in consultation with four other judges after 40 days of daily hearing, making it the second longest hearing in the top court.
6. Under Article 142, the SC directed, in the scheme to be framed, Nirmohi Akhara, an order of ascetics, will also get representation. The Akhara’s suit, one of the main parties in the case, was dismissed as the bench held that it was barred by limitation. The Supreme Court also rejected that Nirmohi Akhara is a shebait (manager) of the complex. “Land to remain vested in statutory receiver till trust is formed,” ruled the Court.
7. The five-judge bench unanimously rejected the Shia Waqf Board petition, claiming rights on the Babri mosque on the disputed land in Ayodhya over that of the Sunni Waqf Board.
8. The Supreme Court said that the 2003 Archaeology Survey of India’s report can’t be dismissed as conjecture or just a guess work and junked the theory of pre-existence of an Idgah at the disputed site. “Babri mosque wasn’t constructed on a vacant land. An underlying structure did exist.”
9. The Apex Court also said that the underlying structure was not of Islamic religion. Artefacts, architectural evidence had distinct non-Islamic nature, read out the Justice Gogoi. The Apex Court at the same time also said, “But ASI report hasn’t said the underlying structure was a specific temple.
10. Hindus consider Ayodhya as birthplace of Lord Ram. Faith and belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born under the inner dome. Faith of Hindus is undisputed that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya,” ruled the court. Faith, the judgement read, is a matter of individual believer.