New Delhi (IANS): In a historic judgement in the sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, the Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Centre to form within three months a trust which will build a temple at the disputed site.
The Sunni Waqf Board, which was a party to the seven-decade-old title suit, should be given an alternate five-acre land at some other suitable place for construction of a mosque, a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said in a unanimous judgement.
The Centre shall make suitable provisions by handing over the land to the trust, said the bench, which also comprised Chief Justice-designate Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
The court said the title of the land can be decided only on legal advice.
The top court ruled that the Allahabad High Court verdict of 2010, giving land to the Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara, was wrong.
It rejected the claim of Nirmohi Akhara of being a ‘shebait’ (a devotee who serves the deity).
The Supreme Court, however, said that in the board of trustees, appropriate representation should be accorded to Nirmohi Akhara, even though its suit was dismissed.
The bench upheld the report of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which concluded that a temple existed at the disputed site.
There is clear evidence the Hindus believed Ram was born at the disputed site, it said.
There is evidence that ‘Ram Chabutra’ and ‘Sita Rasoi’ were worshipped by Hindus before the British came, the judgement said.
The court said travelogue and gazetteers cannot be the basis of adjudication of the title and that the nature of worship offered by Hindus over the years proves that they had always believed that Lord Ram was at the site.
Documents of 1856-57 show that Hindus were not obstructed from worshipping there, it said. Outer courtyard has been under exclusive possession of Hindus over the years, the court said.
The bench said Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and this belief is beyond judicial scrutiny.
One of the five judges on the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya bench has offered a different perspective on the question of birth of Lord Ram. However, the judgement does not name the judge, but his observation has included as addendum. The judge felt Hindu’s faith is important.
“…the conclusion that faith and belief of Hindus since prior to construction of mosque and subsequent thereto has always been that Janmasthan of Lord Ram is the place where Babri Mosque has been constructed which faith and belief is proved by documentary and oral evidence discussed…,” the judge concluded.
This judge observed that evidence on record clearly establishes that the Hindus’ faith and belief that the mosque was constructed at the birth place of Lord Ram, and the three-dome structure was the birth place of the deity.
The fact that Hindus were, by constructing iron wall dividing the mosque premises, kept outside the three-dome structure cannot be said to alter their faith and belief regarding the birth place of Lord Ram. “The worship on the Ram Chabutra in the outer courtyard was symbolic worship of Lord Ram who was believed to be born in the premises,” said the judge.
The judge observed that it was only during the British period that a grille was constructed dividing the walled premises of the mosque into an inner courtyard and outer courtyard.
“Grilled iron wall was constructed to keep Hindus outside the grilled iron wall in the outer courtyard. In view of the construction of the iron wall, the worship and puja started in Ram Chabutra in the outer courtyard. Suit of 1885 was filed seeking permission to construct temple on the said Chabutra where worship was permitted by the British Authority,” said the judge.
Sunni Waqf Board lawyer Zafaryab Jilani on Saturday said they are not satisfied with the Supreme Court verdict and will file a review petition.
“We respect the judgement but we are not satisfied. The judgement is not as per our expectations,” he said. “After today’s order, it looks we will file a review petition. But a final decision will be taken only after consultation with our legal team,” he added
“Today’s observation by the Chief Justice of India will go a long way in the nation’s welfare,” Jilani further said.
However Rajiv Dhawan, the other lawyer who represented the Muslims or the Sunni Waqf Board, evaded a reply.
“A historical wrong has been corrected”, said a senior lawyer of the Hindu side after the Supreme Court on Saturday ruled in favour of a temple in the Ayodhya title dispute case.
Speaking to IANS, senior advocate P S Narasimha, who represented Ram Lalla Virajman, said: “Hindus were praying at the Ram Janambhoomi before the mosque was constructed. And after the mosque was constructed, they continue to pray till date. This is a great judgement…A historical wrong has been corrected.”
Heavy restrictions in the holy town of Ayodhya may not have allowed celebrations for the Supreme Court verdict that clears the way for the construction of the Ram temple but a subdued sense of relief and happiness was palpable.
A few people did burst crackers but the police immediately stopped them and that put an end to jubilation.
An unusually heavy deployment of forces in Ayodhya also restricted the number of devotees visiting the Ram Janambhoomi complex. The local people and other devotees were asked to show their Aadhaar cards before they were allowed to enter the temple complex.
“We are happy that the Ram temple will finally be built and there is no need to make a loud expression of our happiness. We are happy and we do not need to prove it,” said Ram Kumar, a ‘prasad’ seller at the famous Hanuman Garhi temple.
Shalini Kumari, a devotee from Ambedkar Nagar, said that she would now see the Ram temple in her lifetime. “My cousin Ravi was among those died in the 1992 riots after the demolition and the verdict will make his soul rest in peace.”
A huge contingent from the media thronged the residence of Iqbal Ansari, the plaintiff in the title suit case but the police stationed outside his house prevented a prolonged interaction.
Ansari simply said that he was glad that the battle that stretched over decades was finally over.
There was jubilation, however, in Karsevakpuram where the local people exchanged sweets. “It is a moment of triumph for everyone who participated in the temple movement. Our stand has been vindicated,” said VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma.