Ayodhya verdict: SC directs centre to form trust for temple construction

Ayodhya case verdict
Ayodhya: Police and RAF personnel patrol near the Hanumagarhi temple in Ayodhya, Saturday. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court on Saturday paved the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot an alternative 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at a "prominent" place in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh.

In one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India's history, a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.

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"The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed," the court said in its 1,045-page verdict in the politically-sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Saturday evening after the historic Ayodhya verdict. He said the the Supreme Court had heard all the parties and the fact that the judgement was a unanimous one was a matter of happiness. India's credo of unity in diversity is today visible in its totality, Modi added.

Modi also pointed out the way each section of the society welcomed the apex court verdict and said it reflected India'a ancient traditions.

Modi had earlier tweeted that the Ayodhya land dispute should not be seen as win or loss for anybody. He appealed to countrymen to maintain peace and harmony. Modi also asserted that the judgment clearly illustrates that everybody is equal before the law.

Noting that the temple of justice (the apex court) has amicably concluded a matter going on for decades, he said the SC verdict will further strengthen people's faith in the judicial system.

"The calm and peace maintained by 130 crore Indians in the run-up to today's verdict manifests India's inherent commitment to peaceful coexistence. May this very spirit of unity and togetherness power the development trajectory of our nation. May every Indian be empowered," he said.

Click here for a timeline of the Ayodhya case

The disputed site in Ayodhya was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992. The demolition had triggered communal riots.

The court said the new mosque should be constructed at a "prominent site" and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who is one of the three litigants in the case. The possession, however, will remain with a central government receiver.

The verdict was pronounced on 14 appeals filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

The bench said the high court wrongly decided the title suit by resorting to partitioning of the disputed land in three parts.

"The verdict is very balanced and it is a victory of people," said C S Vaidyanathan, lawyer for deity 'Ram Lalla'. But, the Sunni Waqf Board, one of the main parties, said it was not satisfied and will seek a review.

"The verdict holds no value for us, It has lot of contradictions," Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Board, told reporters.

The Nirmohi Akhara said it has no "regrets" regarding the verdict.

Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to all communities to accept the verdict and maintain peace and remain committed for 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat' while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh urged everyone to take the verdict with equanimity and magnanimity. The Congress said it respects the verdict and is in favour of construction of Ram temple.

Former VHP president Praveen Togadia said giving Ram Lalla's birth land for Ram Temple is a salute to the sacrifice of lakhs of workers.

Prominent Muslim leaders appealed for peace and harmony even as they expressed surprise.

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    No regret over SC saying Nirmohi Akhara not 'shebait' of deity Ram Lalla: Outfit

    The Nirmohi Akhara has no regrets over the Supreme Court saying that it is not a 'shebait' of deity Ram Lalla, a member of the outfit said after the Ayodhya verdict on Saturday.

    "We have no regrets on this because we were batting for Ram Lalla. The court has accepted Ram Lalla's side and with this, our motive was fufilled," Nirmohi Akhara member Mahant Dharmdas told PTI.

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    Union minister Nitin Gadkari appealed to people to accept the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya issue as India is a democratic country.

    "As people of this democratic country all should accept the decision taken by the supreme court on Ayodhya. We all have faith in the judiciary. People should maintain peace and harmony," he told reporters.

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    The All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Indian Union Muslim League also accepted the verdict.

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    The Sunni Waqf Board said it was not satisfied with the judgement but it accepted the decision. It would decide on filing a review petition soon.

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    The spiritual head of Ajmer dargah on Saturday welcomed the decision of Supreme Court on Ayodhya case and appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony.

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    "We respect and accept the verdict. I appeal to the people of the country to maintain harmony and peace. This is the victory of the judiciary and the message should be loud and clear that how much the judiciary is important for us and people of the country are peace loving, he told PTI.

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    The disputed land should be given to a government trust and the centre should form the trust within three months, SC ruled.

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    The constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Saturday ruled that the Hindu claimants be given the disputed land in Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit and Muslim bodies be given five acre land to build a mosque.

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    SC lends credence to the archeological evidence on the disputed site. The fact that there lied a temple beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the ASI, reports PTI.

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    SC says that the disputed land was government land in the revenue records- PTI reports

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    5-judge constitution bench assembles in SC to pronounce judgement in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya.

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    Senior advocates K Parasaran, CS Vaidyanathan, Rajeev Dhawan, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and other lawyers representing different parties in the case arrive in courtroom.

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    CJI's courtroom opens, proceedings to begin soon.

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    Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi arrives at Supreme Court

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    Ayodhya judgment: Everyone's responsibility to maintain unity, social harmony, says Priyanka

    Ahead of the Ayodhya verdict, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday said irrespective of the decision, it is everyone's responsibility to maintain the country's tradition of unity and social harmony.

    "Whatever the decision of the court, in this hour, the responsibility of maintaining the country's thousands of years old tradition of unity and social harmony is on all of us," she said in a tweet.

    This is Mahatma Gandhi's country. It is our duty to abide by the message of peace and non-violence," the Congress general secretary said.

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"I was surprised to see the ruling and it's beyond my understanding. I feel there were enough evidences in favour of the mosque but these were not taken into consideration," Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, the current Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) of the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, told PTI.

Security was tightened at communally sensitive places across the country with policemen keeping a hawk's vigil.

Prohibitory orders were issued across the national capital to maintain public order, according to Delhi Police while an emergency Operations Centre was set up in Lucknow to keep an eye on reports from media, social media and other sources on the verdict.

As Justice Gogoi read out the operative part of the verdict for 45 minutes, people belonging to both Hindu and Muslim communities in Ayodhya sat glued before Television sets, while the tech-savvy youth kept a tab on their mobiles phones.

Directing allotment of alternative land to Muslims to build a new mosque, the court said the Hindus have established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case.

The court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there, and the evidence suggests the Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates that they had not lost possession of the site.

It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at Mosque, the evidences suggest that there was no abandonment in offering prayers.

The court further said the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.

It said that terming the archaeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the ASI.

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place.

The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place.

The court further said however that the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute.

(With inputs from PTI)

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