Ayodhya, a city in district Faizabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, located on the banks of river Sarayu. here is a Hindus-Muslims dispute over the birthplace of Lord Rama and Babri Masjid, which is called ‘The Ayodhya Dispute’. The dispute is over the piece of land of 2.77 acres (1500 sq. yards).
Historical Background of Ayodhya Verdict
The dispute is between two religious communities, i.e, the Hindus, who claim it to be the spot for the birthplace of Lord Rama, and the Muslims, who claim that there was a mosque named ‘Babri masjid’ at that spot which was built by Mir Baqi, on the orders of first Mughal emperor, Babur.
First instances of Dispute -Ayodhya Verdict
However, In 1855, the main disputes started when a riot took place between Hindus and Muslims. There was a temple named ‘Hanuman Garhi’ near the courtyard land. At that time Certain Sunni Muslims believed that Hanumangarhi had been built on by destroying a mosque that was situated at that temple’s land. Muslims charged on Hanumangarhi but were repelled and they hid inside the Babri mosque, which was about a kilometre away from Hanumangarhi. Hindus attacked at that Babri mosque in order to attack those Sunni Muslims. Certain Muslims died in the process and they were buried near the place.
Separation of the land
In 1857, there was a bifurcation of the place by placing a brick and grill wall (railing) of 8 feet height dividing the land between two parts separated for Hindus and Muslims. Muslims worshipped inside of the place and Hindus worshipped their idols outside on the courtyard.
Legal battles since 1885
- Suit no. 61/280 of 1885
This suit was filed by Mahanth Raghubar Das, who was Mahanth at Janam Asthan at Ayodhya against Secretary of state of India in Council.
A suit was filed to grant permission to construct the temple over ‘Chabutra’ Janam asthan measuring 17’ x 21’ (39.6 yards)1. Also, to restrain the defendants from interfering in the said construction of the temple.
Observations of the court-
The sub-judge concluded that it would be against public policy to allow the construction of the temple as there will be sounds of bells and shankhs by Hindus and Muslims also passing by the same wall, which could lead to the massacre of thousands of people.
Ultimately, the trial court dismissed the petition saying that the construction of the temple would be completely inappropriate and against public policy.
- Civil appeal no. 27 of 1886
Against the above decision, a civil appeal was filed in the district court of Faizabad. Learned district judge visited the spot himself on 17.03.1886 and found that the masjid built by emperor Babur, stood on the border of the town of Ayodhya.
The learned judge struck out the words ‘ownership of chabutra by Hindus’ from the judgment given by Sub-judge in the suit 61/280 and dismissed the appeal.
- Second civil appeal no. 122 of 1886
It was dismissed by the judicial commissioner, Oudh on 01.11.1886 on the view that there is nothing to show that the plaintiff was the owner of the said land (Chabootra).
This position continued till 23.12.1949 and no further incidents happened as locks were put on the railings.
Incident of 23.12.1949
On the evening of 23.12.1949, Pandit Sri Ram Deo Dubey, Sub-Inspector Incharge Thana Ayodhya lodged FIR that certain persons had broken the locks, which were put on the compound of the Babri mosque and climbed ladders in the disputed land. They illegally interfered and placed idols of Shri Ram and had written Sita Ram Ji etc. on the walls in red and yellow.
Police constables tried to restrain them but they did not pay attention and afterwards, a crowd of 5000 people gathered and raised religious slogans and performed kirtan.
Faizabad district magistrate, K.K. Nayar informed UP chief minister Govind Ballabh Pant about the incident.
On December 29, 1949, the city magistrate passed an order under section 145 of CrPC to attach the entire property to the receivership of Priya Datt ram, president of Nagar Mahapalika.
Opening of locks of disputed land- The Turning Point
Until 31.01.1986, The position which was brought on 23.12.1949 was continued, i.e, locks were put only two or three pandits were allowed inside the temple to offer puja and darshan, and the rest of the general public was allowed beyond the brick and grill wall.
One Umesh Chand Pandey, an advocate, filed an application on 25.01.1986 that locks should be opened, the public must be permitted to have darshan from inside, and locks placed on brick-grill wall should be removed.
The munsif magistrate rejected the application saying that the files related to the matter are before the high court and ultra vires of their jurisdiction.
Appeal to the Faizabad District court
Further, the appeal was filed before the Faizabad district court and it was allowed on the same date, i.e, on 01.02.1986.
The learned district judge observed that both district magistrate and SP of Faizabad were present in the court and they both admitted that if locks will be opened of the disputed land, there will be no difficulty in maintaining peace and security.
Ultimately, the appeal was allowed and locks were opened of the brick-grill railing on the disputed land.
Acquisition of land by the U.P. government
In 1991, The State of U.P. acquired the disputed land and some adjoining area, total area covering 2.77 acres for ‘development of tourism and providing amenities to Pilgrims in Ayodhya’ through notifications under Sections 42 & 63 of Act dated 07.10.1991 and 10.10.1991 respectively.
The acquisition was challenged by six different writ petitions with the leading petition being Mohd. Hashim vs. State of U.P. and others4. Ultimately, petitions were allowed and operations of the notifications (of acquisition) were quashed by the high court on 11 December 1992. (Ayodhya Verdict)
Demolition of Babri Masjid
On 6th December 1992, a very large crowd (around 2,00,000) of Hindus (Kar sevaks) gathered at the disputed spot and demolished the construction part, i.e, Boundary wall, Ram chabutra, etc. despite the interim orders passed by the Supreme court and the High court.
The demolition caused unprecedented disturbance and divide. The economy of the country almost shattered after the demolition.
More than 49 FIRs were registered in the demolition case against several people, including leaders of BJP like L.K. Advani, etc.
On 21 December 1992, a group of advocates leading Hari Shankar Jain filed a petition in Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court praying that it was their fundamental right* (Article 25) to worship Lord Rama at the place believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.
Acquisition of land by Central Government
After the demolition and lodging of FIRs, petitions, etc. the Central government tried to acquire the land to avoid further trouble. On January 7, 1993, they promulgated an ordinance for ‘Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya’5 and acquired 67 acres of the central area of disputed land under ‘THE ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN AREA AT AYODHYA ACT, 1993’.
Immediately after the acquisition, Mohd Ismail Farooqi filed a writ petition6 in the Supreme Court challenging it.
The President of India also made a reference to the Supreme Court under article 143 of the constitution to check whether there was a temple or not before the construction of ‘Babri mosque’ by emperor Babur in 1528.
The Supreme court struck down Section 4(3) of the Acquisition Act, 19937 as unconstitutional and invalid. It was also decided that the vesting of the disputed area in the Central Government would be as the statutory receiver with the duty for its management and administration requiring maintenance of the status quo.
Title cases – Ayodhya Verdict
- Other Original Suit (O.O.S.) no. 1 of 1989/ Regular suit no. 2 of 1950
Plaintiff, Gopal Singh Visharad of the Hindu Maha Sabha, filed the suit on 16.01.1950 claiming that he was worshipping Ram janmabhoomi, on which idols of Shri ram and charan-paduka were placed.
He also contended that the Deputy Commissioner, Additional City Magistrate, and S.P. of Faizabad, were unduly pressurizing the Hindu public to remove idols from the place.
The relief was claimed that the plaintiff was entitled to worship and darshan at the place of Ram Janmabhoomi, and none of the defendants has any right to interfere in their worship and darshan.
The Civil judge passed the order of injunction and allowed them the right to worship and darshan at the place.
- Other Original Suit (O.O.S.) no. 2 of 1989/ Regular suit no.25 of 1950
This suit has been filed by the plaintiff Pramahans Ramchandra Das against Zahoor Ahmad and others.
The plaint was almost verbatim reproduction of suit no. 18.
- Other original Suit (O.O.S.) No.3 of 1989/ Regular Suit No.26 of 1959
This suit was filed by Nirmohi Akhada through their mahant, mainly against the defendant Babu Priya Datt Ram, who was appointed as receiver under section 145 of CrPC on 29 December 1949.
They claimed to take over the management from Babu Priya Datt Ram as the janmabhoomi has always belonged to Nirmohi Akhara, who through its mahants were managing and receiving offerings made at the place. It was further stated that since 1934, no mohamadeen (Muslim) could ever enter the disputed place.
- Other Original Suit (O.O.S.) No.4 of 1989/ Regular Suit No.12 of 1961
The suit was filed by the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, U.P., and some other Muslims.
They stated that there is a historic mosque named Babri Masjid, built by the emperor Babur, map attached with it. They contended that the Babri mosque is of great importance to Muslims and they have been praying inside it since always. However, after the Shri Babu Priya Datt Ram was appointed as receiver, they were deprived of their praying rights in the mosque.
Also, after passing of the injunction order of the suit no. 1, Hindus were allowed to do puja and darshan inside the land, when Muslims were not even allowed to enter the land.
They prayed that Hindus worshipping idols should be removed and possession should be given to the Muslim community.
- Suit no. 5
A fifth suit was filed by former Allahabad High Court Judge Deoki Nandan Agarwal on July 1, 1989, as “next friend” of Ram Lala Virajman (the deity, deemed a minor legal person) before the civil judge in Faizabad.
They prayed that the land known as Ram janmabhoomi and the adjacent locality should be handed over to Ram Lala for the construction of a new temple.
Transfer of the Case Allahabad High Court
The whole thirteen years later, Allahabad high court took the case of the Ayodhya dispute under all five title cases mentioned above in March 2002. Hearings of the case began.
The most important point to be decided after the petition of M. Ismail Farooqui’s (1994) case* is of title and possession of the disputed land. There was a whole list of issues before the court9.(Ayodhya Verdict)
There were a total of 86 witnesses, broadly divided into three categories-
- Witnesses of facts
- Witnesses claimed to be historians
- Witnesses to the A.S.I10 report
In July 2003, Allahabad high court ordered the Archaeological Survey Of India to excavate the disputed land. A.S.I. submitted its report on 25th August 2003. In its report, it was mentioned that-
In order to get enough archaeological evidence of whether any temple was demolished to construct a Babri mosque or not,
There has been a massive structure below the land along with the yield of stone and bricks. There has also been a disrupted structure of the divine couple and some architectural remains like foliage patterns, amalaka, fifty pillar bases, etc, which were believed to be the artifacts of Hindu pilgrimage.
Finding by the court
Allahabad HC observed that-
- The structure which was disputed in the case was built on the orders of Mughal emperor Babur and it was named as Babri mosque.
Nevertheless, it was never proved whether that land belonged to Babur or not.
- Court also found that no temple was demolished to construct the Babri mosque, however, it was constructed over the decays of the temples which were lying there from the very long time before the construction of the mosque.
- Hindus were always in the belief that there existed a temple at the disputed land
But, after the construction of the mosque, they started identifying the premises as the exact birthplace of Lord Ram.
- The court observed that much before 1855, Ram Chabutra and Seeta Rasoi had come into existence, according to the A.S.I. report, and it was a very unique and absolutely extraordinary situation that inside the boundary wall and compound of the mosque Hindu religious places were there which were actually being worshipped along with offerings of Namaz by Muslims in the mosque.
Hence, it can be clarified that both the parties Muslims as well as Hindus were held to be in joint possession of the entire premises in dispute.
- Both the parties have failed to prove commencement of their title hence, by virtue of Section 110 Evidence Act12 both are held to be joint title holders on the basis of joint possession.
Order of the Court
On 30th September 2010, Allahabad high court finally pronounced its verdict,
That all three parties, i.e, Muslims, Hindus, and Nirmohi Akhara are declared joint title holders of the premises in dispute.
The portion below the central dome where the idol was kept in the makeshift temple was allotted to Hindus.
Nirmohi Akhara was allotted share including that part which was shown by the words Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi in the said map.
It was further clarified that all the three parties were declared to have one-third share each.
However, if while allotting exact portions some minor adjustment in the share was to be made then the same should be made and the affected party may be compensated by allotting some portion of the adjoining land which had been acquired by the Central Government.
Supreme Court – Ayodhya Verdict
In December 2010,
All three parties- Ram Lala Virajman (Hindus), Sunni Waqf Board(Muslims) and Nirmohi Akhada appealed in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court judgment(Ayodhya Verdict).
On 9 May 2011,
Supreme Court bench of Justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha, admitted the applications of appeals and stayed the judgment of the Lucknow Bench of the high court and directed the parties to maintain the status quo at the site.(Ayodhya Verdict).
On 6 August 2019,
The Supreme court set up a bench of five judges headed by Ranjan Gogoi, to begin the hearing of the case.(Ayodhya Verdict)
This five-judge bench gave its final verdict on 9 November, 2019.13
The court ordered the whole disputed area of land covering 2.77 acres was given to the central government for the construction of Ram mandir temple and alternative land covering 5 acres was allocated to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque. (Ayodhya Verdict).
The court further ordered that the Central government will create a trust to build the Ram mandir temple within three months.
On 12 December 2019
The Supreme court dismissed 18 petitions seeking reviews of the Ayodhya verdict.
On 5 February 2020
The Government of India made an announcement for a trust to build a Ram temple and allocated an alternative site in Dhannipur, Ayodhya to build a mosque to replace the demolished Babri Masjid.
Finally On 5 august, 2020,
The temple construction officially started after a ground-breaking ceremony.
Three-day long Vedic rituals were held ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony, which
revolved around the installation of a 40 kg silver brick as the foundation stone by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
- Suit No.61/280 of 1885
- Section 4 of Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act
- Section 6 of Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act
- W.P. no.3540 (MB)/1991
- Dr. M. Ismail Farooqi Vs. Union of India,1994 (6) SCC 360
- Section 4(3) of Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act
- O.O.S. no. 1 of 1989/ Regular suit no. 2 of 1950
- In the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad (Lucknow Bench)
- Archaeological Survey Of India
- In the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad (Lucknow Bench
- Section 110 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
- IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION Civil Appeal Nos 10866-10867 of 2010 M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs …App
Student, Punjabi University, Patiala
Anshika Singla is a researcher, writer and always a learner. She is from Punjab. She is immensely interested in Constitutional law and Criminal law. She believes that a perfectly written article can change perspectives of people. For any clarifications, suggestions and feedback, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org