SC paves way for temple at disputed site at Ayodhya

Alternative land for mosque

The Supreme Court on Saturday paved the way for the construction of a Ram Temple by a Trust 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 a bid to put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation, the court in a unanimous 5-0 verdict ruled that the 2.77 acres of disputed land where the demolished Babri Masjid once stood will remain with a Central government receiver and be handed over to a Trust within three months for the construction of the temple.

“The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed,” ruled a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi weeks after a marathon 40-day hearing– the second longest in the history of apex court. Justice Gogoi is due to retire on November 17.

The verdict in the politically-sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India’s history, runs into 1,045-page pages.

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 apex court 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.

It 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.

As security remained tightened at communally sensitive places across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a host of leaders who appealed for peace, unity and amity. He said the verdict should not be seen as anybody’s win or loss.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the verdict should not be seen as anybody’s victory or defeat. The building of a Ram temple is a long-held objective of the BJP.

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 disputed site was government land in the revenue records,” the court said adding,” The fact that there lay a temple beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) and the underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”

“The history and culture of this country have been home to quests for truth, through the material, the political, and the spiritual. This Court is called upon to fulfil its adjudicatory function where it is claimed the two quests for the truth impinge on the freedoms of the other or violate the rule of law,” it added.

C S Vaidyanathan, lawyer for deity ‘Ram Lalla’, said the verdict is very balanced and it is a victory of people. 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.

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