Supreme Court of India delivers judgment of Babri Masjid case

Staff Correspondent,, Dhaka
photo: collected

photo: collected

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The 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6 of 1992. The case of Babri Masjid which has been running for last 27 years came to a halt through legal battle when the top court of India delivered its verdict on Saturday [Nov. 9] at Bangladesh time 11 a.m. The 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya has gone entirely to the Hindus, and Muslims will have to be given an alternative piece of 5 acres in Ayodhya to build a mosque, the Supreme Court has concluded in a unanimous judgment.

The "malikana haq" or the ownership right of the disputed land has gone to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas.

The court has said the central government should within three months formulate a scheme to set up a trust for possession of the inner and outer courtyards of the disputed site. Till such a trust is formed, the government will hold the land, the Supreme Court has said.

The trust will have, among others, the Nirmohi Akhara, whose claim to ownership of the land was dismissed today.

At the heart of the case was a property dispute dealing with the 2.77 acres. The Supreme Court had to decide who owned this land. But this piece of real estate has become the most divisive political weapon in modern India.

In 1992, a Hindu mob gathered in Ayodhya, and in the presence of BJP and other Hindutva leaders it demolished much of the Babri Masjid that was built in the 16th century and named after Babur, the first Mughal ruler.

The demolition triggered riots across the country that took 2,000 lives, mostly of Muslims. On March 12, 1993, in a devastating retaliation to the demolition, an organized crime syndicate led by Tiger Memon triggered 12 coordinated blasts in Bombay that killed 250 people.

In 2010, an Allahabad High Court judgment divided the 2.77 acres into three equal parts. Two portions went to Hindu parties -- the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla Virajmaan -- and one portion to the Uttar Pradesh Central Sunni Wakf Board. The two Hindu parties and the Muslim side contested this judgment and moved the country’s top court.

The Supreme Court heard the matter for 40 days and concluded the hearing on October 16, 2019. It ended on an ominous note when a map on the purported birthplace of Lord Ram was torn up in court. That day, a rumor raged outside the courtroom that the Sunni Wakf Board had withdrawn its claim to the land.

The apex court bench was led by the soon-to-retire Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. The other judges were Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S.A. Nazeer.

During the hearings, Rajiv Dhavan, the lawyer for the Muslim parties, told the bench he had noticed that the judges' "questions have been directed at me", not the Hindu parties.

On the other side, C.S. Vaidynathan, the lawyer for Ram Lalla – the deity of the child Lord Ram – told the court that it was the "belief of Hindus” that Lord Ram's birthplace is Ayodhya and “the court should not go beyond to see how rational (it is)".

The case was unusual in the way that Lord Ram and the Ram Janmabhoomi were also parties in it.

Before the hearings, the top court also tried the mediation route. It set up a panel of three – retired judge Ibrahim Kalifullah, art of living guru Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The committee, set up in March, failed to find a solution, and the matter returned to the court.

The BJP, the RSS and its affiliate organizations have always wanted a temple of Lord Ram to be built where the mosque once stood. “Mandir yahin banayenge (we will make the temple right here)” became an oft-heard slogan at political meetings under Narendra Modi’s rule.

On the eve of the judgment, though, Prime Minister Modi appealed for calm. “The Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya would not be a matter of victory or loss. I appeal to countrymen that it should be our priority to strengthen our tradition of maintaining peace and harmony after Ayodhya verdict,” he tweeted on Thursday[Nov.7] night, while several states announced police deployments to tackle any possible violence.

Section 144 was enforced in Ayodhya on October 12 and will be in force till December 10.

The Uttar Pradesh government ordered all educational and training institutes to stay shut till Monday after the court website informed around 9 pm on Friday that the verdict would be given at 10.30 am on Saturday, when courts normally don’t function.

Earlier about 500 suspected people were also arrested as preventive measures to check any outbreak of possible deterioration of law and order situation.

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