Ayodhya (Babri Masjid/ Ram Janambhoomi)

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Significantly, Justice Sharma supports the claim in the deity's suit that the disputed property, Ram Janm Bhumi' is itself a juristic person capable of having rights and endowed with immunity from any challenge under the law to its ownership. He had observed that the "Asthan is personified as the spirit of the divine". The arguments in the Supreme Court were largely based on this claim.
Significantly, Justice Sharma supports the claim in the deity's suit that the disputed property, Ram Janm Bhumi' is itself a juristic person capable of having rights and endowed with immunity from any challenge under the law to its ownership. He had observed that the "Asthan is personified as the spirit of the divine". The arguments in the Supreme Court were largely based on this claim.
===Further details===
[https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/when-did-the-dispute-over-ram-janmabhoomi-start-and-why-did-it-take-so-long-for-a-resolution/article29933071.ece  November 10, 2019: ''The Hindu'']
[https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/when-did-the-dispute-over-ram-janmabhoomi-start-and-why-did-it-take-so-long-for-a-resolution/article29933071.ece  November 10, 2019: ''The Hindu'']

Revision as of 06:52, 10 November 2019

Babri Masjid - Ram Janmabhoomi dispute “India Today”
Babri Masjid - Ram Janmabhoomi dispute “India Today”

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


A timeline

The authors of this page are

Babri Masjid demolition: Timeline of events and aftermath | By Mid-day online correspondent | 06-Dec-2016 |Mid-day, which is almost identical to:

Timeline: Ayodhya holy site crisis 6 December 2012 | BBC

Complete Detailed Timeline, Chronology of Ayodhya Ram Mandir and Babri mosque Demolition | 18 SEPTEMBER 2010| Reality Views

Haider Abbas | Babri Masjid: The story of crime # 197/1992| The Milli Gazette 16-30 June 2012

With additional inputs from Q&A: The Ayodhya dispute |5 December 2012| BBC

Mid-day’s caption: Hindu youths clamour atop the 16th century Muslim Babri Mosque in this 06 December 1992 photo five hours before the structure was completely demolished by hundreds supporting Hindu fundamentalist activists.

History: 1527- 1992


The Indian city of Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, is located 550 km east of New Delhi. The name Ayodhya means, “Not to be warred against,” [Or ‘The land without war’] (Reality Views)

Here is a timeline.

1527 or 1528: A mosque is built on the site which some Hindus say marks the spot where Lord Ram was born. Some have claimed an old Hindu temple was demolished and a mosque constructed at the same place in Ayodhya and named after Babur and hence the name Babri Masjid.

According to Reality Views The date of the construction of the Babri Mosque is disputed. Before the 1940s, the Mosque was called "Masjid-i Janmasthan".

1853: First recorded incidents of communal clashes at the site.

1859: British colonial administration erected a fence to separate the places of worship, allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus. This stood for 90 years.

1855: Hindus and Muslims clash over possession of the mosque. There are claims that Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabootara were built around this time (Reality Views)

1885: Mahant Raghubar Das files a suit seeking permission to build a canopy on Ram Chabootra (Reality Views)

His plea is declined.

1528- Oct 19, 2019

Ayodhya (Babri Masjid/ Ram Janambhoomi)- A chronology of events on the protracted dispute from centuries past- 1528- 2019
From: November 10, 2019: The Hindu

See graphic:

Ayodhya (Babri Masjid/ Ram Janambhoomi)- A chronology of events on the protracted dispute from centuries past- 1528- 2019

The legal case: 1885- 9 Nov 2019

See graphic:

A timeline of the Babri Masjid/ Ram Janambhoomi case: Till Oct 2019

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Will SC verdict in Ayodhya case bury ‘more-than-century-old’ litigation?, January 7, 2019: The Times of India

Krishnadas Rajagopal |A chronology of the Ayodhya dispute | The Hindu

The juggernaut of litigation for ownership over 2.77 acres of Ayodhya land, where the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi disputed structure stood since 1528 till its demolition on December 6, 1992, is about to start rolling towards final destination in the Supreme Court.

But the question that stares the two communities — Hindus and Muslims — is whether the final adjudication on the title suits by the highest court of the land be able to bury the ‘more than century’ old dispute and bring peace between the communities? History has witnessed large-scale rioting and loss of lives because of polarisation over the issue in the last three decades.

Advocate Virag Gupta has published a compendium on Ayodhya case in courts giving insight to the birth of a small stream of litigation on Ayodhya land and how it grew into a big river over nearly two centuries. The strong undercurrents against the mosque was felt by the British in the 1850s and they fenced the structure in 1859.

In 1885, a suit seeking permission for constructing a Ram Temple at the disputed site was filed by Mahant Raghubar Das. The trial court rejected it fearing such permission could lead to riots. Appeals too were rejected. In 1934, a mob damaged parts of the disputed structure. The British repaired it. Muslims continued to offer prayer and Hindus worshipped at Ram-Chabutra and Kaushalya Rasoi.

On the intervening night of December 22-23, 1949, idol of Lord Ram was surreptitiously placed under the central dome of the disputed structure. Worship by devotees started in a big way from next morning. District authorities, fearing riots, sealed the premises immediately.

In 1950, two civil suits were filed — one by Gopal S Visharad of Hindu Mahasabha claiming right to worship and second by Paramhans Ramachandra Das seeking to restrain administration from removing the idols.And for permission to worship the idols The trial court allowed worship and restrained the district authorities from removing the idols. The Allahabad high court confirmed the trial court’s interim orders in 1955.

In 1959, Nirmohi Akhara files plea seeking possession of the disputed land. Nirmohi Akhara filed the third suit seeking right to worship idols under the central dome and handing over of management of the disputed structure to a Hindu Mahant.

1961: Central Sunni Waqf Board, U.P., moves court for declaration of title of the disputed land. Sunni Central Wakf Board filed the fourth suit in 1961 seeking removal of idols and possession of the disputed structure, but withdrew it in 1964. It was added as a defendant in the suit filed by Paramhans Ramchandra Das in 1989.

February 1986: Faizabad court allows Hindus to worship the idols. Another important turn to the roller-coaster journey of Ayodhya dispute took place in 1986, when the Faizabad district court ordered opening of the lock placed on the iron grill gate leading to the central dome of the disputed structure. Many believe the gates were opened at the behest of central government headed by Rajiv Gandhi.

August 1989: Allahabad High Court takes over the title dispute. Orders status quo.

November 1989: The Rajiv Gandhi government allows Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to perform puja near the disputed site.

September 1990: BJP leader L.K. Advani begins rath yatra

6 December 1992: Kar sevaks demolish Babri Masjid. Justice Liberhan Commission appointed to probe.

The White Paper on Ayodhya brought out by the Congress government led by P V Narasimha Rao in February 1993 said: “The Hindu idols thus continued inside the disputed structure since 1949. Worship of these idols by Hindus also continued without interruption since 1949 and the structure was not used by the Muslims for offering prayers since then.”

1993: P.V. Narasimha Rao government acquires 67 acres of land adjoining the disputed site. The Supreme Court upholds the acquisition in its Dr. Ismail Faruqui judgment.

Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) was formed and it launched protest movement seeking restoration of disputed structure to Muslims while Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) spearheaded the Hindu organisations and mobilised public for construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site. The title suits pending in Faizabad district court were transferred to Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC in 1989.

After December 6, 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid, the Ayodhya case got split into two — one, the title suits pending in Allahabad HC’s Lucknow bench and second, the criminal cases filed against top BJP leaders including L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi for exhorting the Kar Sevaks to raze down the disputed structure. The central government acquired the disputed structure and land surrounding it through a law in January 1993.

April 2002: Allahabad High Court commences hearing the title suits.

March 2003: SC bans religious activity in the acquired lands in Mohd. Aslam @Bhurre case.

2009: Liberhan Committee submits inquiry report.

September 30, 2010: High Court delivers a majority judgment for three-way partition of the disputed property among Hindus, Muslims and Nirmohi Akhara.

The Allahabad high court (Lucknow) bench of Justices S U Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharma had considered archaeological evidence, which conclusively indicated that Babri Masjid was built on the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple. The HC divided the Ayodhya land equally between three parties — Ram Lalla (idol), Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Wakf Board.

May 2011: SC stays the high court judgment on cross-appeals filed by the parties.

August 2017: A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Dipak Misra begins hearing the appeals. The main title issue is side-tracked. Muslim parties seek a reference of a contentious observation made in the Faruqui judgment that worshipping in mosques are not integral to Islam to a Constitution Bench. A majority judgment is pronounced declining the prayer.

The criminal case against BJP leaders too entered its final phases with the Supreme Court on April 19, 2017 asking the trial court to proceed with the trial, which had been stalled for a long time, and conclude it within two years. That means, the trial court, if it does not seek extension of the two-year time period, would pronounce its verdict before April 19 this year.

While striking down acquisition of 2.77 acres of disputed Ayodhya land, on which the structure before demolition stood, and surrounding 67.703 acres of land, the SC in Ismail Faruqui case [1994 (6) SCC 360] had asked the Centre to act as Receiver of the two tracts of acquired land till final judgement on the title suits.

In the 1994 judgment, it had said:“We have no doubt that the moderate Hindu has little taste for the tearing down of the place of worship of another to replace it with a temple. It is our fervent hope that the moderate opinion shall find general expression and that communal brotherhood shall bring to the dispute at Ayodhya an amicable solution long before the courts resolve it.”

“Ayodhya is a storm that will pass”, the Supreme Court had hoped. It had been proved wrong. An amicable solution eludes the vexed issue. BMAC-VHP negotiations had reached a critical stage in the late 1980s before breaking down. Two years ago, then CJI J S Khehar had surprised many by offering to be the facilitator for a dialogue between the leaders of the two communities warring over the disputed land. But, little came out of it. The storm continues to threaten the communal harmony. It is doubtful whether the final judgment from the highest court would be able to tame the storm.

January 2019: A Constitution Bench of five judges led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi resumes hearing the title appeals but suggests mediation first.

August 6, 2019: Mediation committee led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla fails to draw a consensus and court hearing commences.

October 16, 2019: After 40 days of hearings, the Constitution Bench reserves judgment

The Supreme Court has concluded hearing in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. The apex court started the day-to-day proceedings on August 6, 2019 after noting that the mediation proceedings to resolve the dispute have failed. (SC concludes hearing in Ayodhya dispute; here's how case unfolded over the years, October 16, 2019: The Times of India )

November 9, 2019: Constitution Bench clears the way for constructing Ram Temple at the disputed site. It orders the government to provide five-acre land to Muslims at a prominent place in Ayodhya.


Dec 1949: Idols of Lord Ram appear inside mosque, allegedly placed there by Hindus. Hindu wing is also said to have allegedly said that the idols had miraculously appeared. Muslims protest resulting in both the parties filing civil suits. The government then declared the premises a disputed area and locked the gates. Police lodge FIR; city magistrate attaches mosque property and locks it The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

BBC adds: Muslims say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949, when some people placed the idols of Ram under the cover of darkness in the mosque. The worship of the idols began soon after. (End of BBC item)

Jan 1950: Gopal Singh Visharad and Mahant Paramhand Ramchandra Das file civil suits in Faizabad, asking for unlocking of Masjid premises and permission to offer prayers to the idols installed at Asthan Janmabhoomi. Inner courtyard gates are locked, but puja is allowed. (Reality Views) Ramchandra Das Paramahans, Mahant of Digambar Akhara, and Nirmohi Akhara later approach court with same demand The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

1959: Nirmohi Akhara and Mahant Raghunath file a case, claiming to be the sect responsible for conducting puja (Reality Views)

Feb 1961: Sunni Central Waqf Board.UP, challenges the 3 suits filed by Hindu side, declaring Babri Masjid property of the board. Hashim Ansari and 5 others join. Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, UP, claims the mosque and the surrounding land was a graveyard (Reality Views) The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

1984: Hindus form a committee to "liberate" the birth-place of Lord Ram and build a temple in his honour. The movement was spearheaded by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to build a temple at the site, which they claimed was the birthplace of Lord Ram. It gathered momentum when they formed a committee to construct a temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi site. Then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani, took over leadership of campaign.

Feb 1986: Faizabad district judge Hari Shankar Pandey orders unlocking of gates of Babri Mosque after almost five decades in favour of Hindu parties and allowed Hindus to worship inside the 'disputed structure.' The gates were opened in less than an hour after the court decision. Muslims set up Babri Mosque Action Committee in protest against the move to allow Hindu prayers at the site. The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

1989: VHP steps up the campaign and proclaims that a Shilâ or a stone will be established for construction of temple near the area. In November, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad laid foundations of a temple on land adjacent to the 'disputed structure'. (Reality Views) adds: Former VHP vice-president Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal files a case, seeking the mosque be shifted elsewhere

1989 All cases of title suit go to HC. Triloki Nath Pandey becomes party, claiming himself as ‘best friend’ of Ram Lalla The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

1990: VHP volunteers partially damage the mosque. The then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar tries to resolve the dispute through negotiations, which fail in 1991.

1991: BJP comes to power in Uttar Pradesh state, where Ayodhya is located. The power at the Centre, is however Congress.

1986: The Babri Masjid Action Committee is formed

Pranshu Mishra, Rs 2,000 from Islamic Scholar, Meeting in Lucknow: How Babri Masjid Action Committee Was Born, November 9, 2019: News18

As the decades-long legal battle over the Ayodhya land dispute moves towards conclusion, one name that emerges as the biggest crusader for the Muslim cause is that of the committee founded in 1986.

It was a few months after the 1982 Samastipur Rath Yatra by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). “Ali Miyan, one of the most noted Islamic scholars and the head of the famous Islamic seminary Nadwa College in Lucknow, called me to discuss the (Ayodhya) matter in 1983,” recalls advocate Zafaryab Jilani, one of the most recognisable voices in the legal battle from the Muslim side in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

Then a young man, Jilani, who says he got associated with the cause in court by chance, reminisces how information on the matter was scarce at the time. Merits and weaknesses were not known. “It was then that Ali Miyan gave me Rs 2,000 and asked me to get the files from Ayodhya and prepare a note on the historical position of the mosque,” he says. It was also discussed to start a Tahrik, or a movement within the community in support of the Babri Masjid.

This is the story not of an individual but of an organisation. As the nearly 70-year-long legal battle over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in independent India moves towards completion, one name that emerges as the biggest crusader for the Muslim cause is the Babri Masjid Action Committee. The wrangle over the land, where Babri Masjid stood, dates back to 1857 when Maulvi Muhammad Asghar, the muezzin of the mosque, filed a petition before the magistrate complaining that the courtyard of the structure had been forcibly taken over by the mahant of Hanumangarhi. In 1859, the British government got a wall built, separating the places of worship for Hindus and Muslims. Since then till the intervening night of December 22nd and 23rd in 1949, the status quo remained at the site, before idols of Ram and Sita were placed inside the mosque.

Six days after the so-called “emergence” of the idols, on December 29, Babri Masjid was declared a disputed property. Orders were passed barring Muslims from entering the mosque. The main gate was locked and Hindus were given permission for a darshan from a side gate.

From the time of being declared a disputed property in 1949 till 1975, the matter remained pending with the sessions court in Faizabad. In 1975, a case was filed in the Allahabad high court, against orders of receivership. Two years later, the case was transferred to the Lucknow bench of the high court. This after the Awadh Bar Association filed a petition claiming jurisdiction of matters of Faizabad/Ayodhya was with the bench at Lucknow.

From 1977, over the next few years, the case remained in limbo. No progress was made as judge after judge recused themselves. Not many from the Muslim side or the Hindu side took much interest in the legal battle. But as things started changing politically with Hindu groups gradually building a movement around the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign, the Muslim side too pulled up its socks.

The initiative from Ali Miyan, who was also the president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), laid the first building blocks of the movement that over the next few years would lead to the formation of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC)

On January 2, 1986 came a big moment in the dispute as the Faizabad district judge passed orders for opening the locks of the main gate of the Babri Masjid. On the same day, an urgent meeting of the AIMPLB was held, where it was decided to chalk out a campaign strategy in support of mosque.

A meeting of Muslim leaders was held at the residence of noted lawyer Abdul Mannan in Lucknow on January 4. Those present included Azam Khan, the current MP from Rampur and a senior leader of the Samajwadi party. Also present was the-then Congress MLA Sayeeduzzama. Two days later, a larger meeting was called at a house located in one of the narrow byways of Aminabad in Lucknow with around 200 people in attendance. It was in this meeting that the Babri Masjid Action Committee was formed.

Azam Khan and Zafaryab Jilani were elected conveners while Maulana Muzaffar Hussain was made the president. In 1987, civil suits in the case were withdrawn from Faizabad and transferred to the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court. As the legal battle continued, it was the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) under the aegis of the AIMPLB which built up a community movement against the temple agitation being spearheaded by right-wing Hindu organisations and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The situation changed dramatically when the mosque was demolished by right-wing activists on December 6, 1992. Jilani says, “With the Babri mosque being no more and a subsequent Supreme court order of 1994, our focus shifted towards the legal battle. There was pressure on the personal law board to take over the case. The action committee was given the task of the legal battle.”

Since then, for almost a quarter of a century, it’s the Babri Masjid Action Committee that has pursued the legal battle on behalf of different Muslim parties including the Sunni Central Waqf Board, both in the high court and since 2010 in the Supreme Court. The case reached the SC after the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on September 30, 2010 ordered equal division of the land among the three main parties in the title suit: Sunni Central Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla Virajman.

So what happens to the Babri Masjid Action Committee as the case heads towards conclusion and most likely a judgement by mid-November? Convener Jilani has no ready answers. But he accepts that “things will not be the same as before”. With near certainty of the legal battle reaching a closure, the committee may well become a part of the historical journey of one of the most contentious political, social and legal disputes of contemporary India.

As the Ayodhya land dispute case draws to a close, a News18 series traces the journey of one of the most protracted legal battles in the history of independent India.

Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox - subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what's happening in the world around you – in real time.

1992 onwards/the events

1992: Demolition of the Babri Masjid

The mosque is razed down by more than lakh supporters of the VHP, the Shiv Sena party and the BJP, prompting nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims in which more than 2,000 people die. India Today adds:

India Today December 29, 2008

On December 6, 1992, an unprecedented religious frenzy whipped up by an array of Hindu rightwing organisations brought down the medieval Babri Masjid, while the state, represented by 25,000 paramilitary personnel, including the elite NSG, stood like spectators. It was a monumental failure of both the intelligence and security establishments. The widespread riots that followed the demolition rent the nation’s social fabric. “The damage to India’s polity and the reputation of the law enforcers was irreparable,” wrote India Today in December 1992.

End of India Today item

The events of 6 Dec 1992

Avijit Ghosh, December 6, 2017: The Times of India

Babri Masjid dispute, a timeline, December 1992-December 2017
From: Avijit Ghosh, December 6, 2017: The Times of India
Incidents on December 6, 1992
From: Avijit Ghosh, December 6, 2017: The Times of India
Graffiti at the site a day after the Masjid was razed. (TOI file photo by Manoj Chhabra)
From: Avijit Ghosh, December 6, 2017: The Times of India
The front page of The Times of India's editions across the country on December 7, 1992, a day after the Babri Masjid was brought down
From: Avijit Ghosh, December 6, 2017: The Times of India


When hordes of karsevaks brought down the 16th century structure hoping to build a Ram Mandir in its place, many Indians also felt the same way wondering if the nature of national politics had altered forever. The masjid's razing was the final outcome of the Ram Janambhoomi movement which had gathered steam since 1990.

In Naseem, director Saeed Mirza's tender yet unsettling movie on the days leading to the Babri Masjid's demolition, a bedridden old man lives in a mansion of memory reciting Urdu couplets and cocooning himself from the turmoil. He dies the day the mosque is brought down. Mirza once said, the film "was an epitaph to the dream that India gave itself at the time of Independence."

When hordes of karsevaks shouted, "Ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do," and brought down the 16th century structure hoping to build a Ram Mandir in its place, many Indians also felt the same way wondering if the nature of national politics had altered forever. The masjid's razing was the final outcome of the Ram Janambhoomi movement which had gathered steam since 1990. The movement was piloted by the Sangh parivar with top BJP and VHP leaders at its forefront.

The political ramifications

Avijit Ghosh, December 6, 2017: The Times of India

Twenty-five years on, the jury is still divided on the long-term impact of the controversial issue. Some believe it was a game-changing moment, others differ. BJP politician Chandan Mitra says that the masjid's demolition marked "a decisive turn" in the nature of Indian politics whereby the idea of "cultural nationalism" overtook the existing "ideological nationalism" that India saw since Independence.

Till then, he says, identity politics was confined to caste and small groups. "This was a supra identity that sought to be established as a kind of majority nationalism. The idea has been gaining ground since then and has established itself as the dominant theme in Indian politics," he says.

Political scientist Imtiaz Ahmed provides a counter. He says the demolition is "a peripheral issue" in Indian politics today, raised sporadically "to influence the electoral process." Even the electoral relevance of Babri Masjid or building the Ram Mandir has declined, he says.

"The BJP recognises this. It is not interested in building the temple but in keeping the issue alive. BJP occasionally talks about it only to use it to polarise the votes and gain some advantage. Look how the Babri Masjid issue is irrelevant in the forthcoming Gujarat election. Even in the UP state election this year, it was not an issue," says Ahmed.

A BJP-led Union government ruled between 1999 and 2004. The saffron party enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha since 2014. But the issue, as Ahmed says, has never been on the front-burner. Mitra points out that building the temple is "very much" a part of BJP's agenda. However, he says that the Supreme Court order, which says that there can be no construction at the site, has "taken the sting out of the movement." "It will be difficult to violate SC's order unless the two communities are in agreement. That too does not seem likely," he says.

Dalit commentator Chandrabhan Prasad too feels the impact of the masjid's demolition has been limited. "In UP, we've seen BSP and SP roar to power with absolute majority. If the politics had changed permanently, this wouldn't have happened," he says.

Prasad believes that liberalisation had a far greater impact on long-term national politics than the flattening of Babri Masjid. "Dalits have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Constitution and the market economy," he says.

Social scientist and politician Yogendra Yadav provides the big picture saying that the demolition signals a shift in popular opinion. "The middle ground of public opinion decisively shifted towards majoritarianism thereafter. It taught us that secularism cannot be defended merely with instruments of law or arms of the state. We realised that when public opinion shifts, everything else - politics, state institutions, even judiciary, shifts," he says.

"Therefore, the real lesson is that the battle to save secularism has to be fought in the minds of ordinary people. That sadly is a battle secular Indians have not seriously engaged with. This would mean a deeper engagement with our traditions, in Indian languages, and with the common sense of ordinary people. The longer we delay it, the weaker our republic becomes, and susceptible to the kind of thuggery we see today," Yadav says.

Rao govt could have saved Babri: the then Home Secy

Rao govt could have saved Babri, says ex-home secy, November 4, 2019: The Times of India

The Babri Masjid could have been saved if there was political will to act and the then PM P V Narasimha Rao did not accept a comprehensive contingency plan of the home ministry prepared before the demolition, claims Madhav Godbole who was the Union home secretary that time.

“If political initiative had been taken at the prime minister’s level, the Mahabharata of this Ramayana could have been avoided,” he says in his new book on the Ayodhya dispute.

Seeking to draw a cogent picture of the events which transpired during the critical period before and after the demolition, Godbole says as PM, Rao “played the most important role in this crucial test match, but, unfortunately, he turned out to be a non-playing captain”.

In “The Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir Dilemma: An Acid Test for India’s Constitution”, the author claims that besides Rao, former prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi and V P Singh also failed to take timely action when the mosque was under serious threat.

In 1992, after detailed discussions with institutions and officers concerned, Godbole says the MHA prepared a comprehensive contingency plan for the takeover of the structure by invoking Article 356 of the Constitution. The Ministry of Law had also cleared the Cabinet note for this purpose, he adds.“For this purpose, it was underlined that action would have to be taken well before the proposed date of commencement of ‘kar seva’...” he writes in the book.

But Rao felt the contingency plan was not workable and dismissed it, he says. PTI

Hindu neighbours ensured food in area under curfew

Yusra Husain, ‘Hindu neighbours ensured food in area under curfew’, December 6, 2017: The Times of India

It was the evening of December 6, 1992. The Babri Masjid had been brought down to a rubble. Mohan Yadav and Sohan Singh were in an animated discussion in Kanpur’s Barra area when they saw about 300 Muslims fleeing, trying to take refuge in the Hari Masjid (mosque painted green) in the area.

“They were carrying lists in hand and knew where Muslim families in the southern part of Kanpur lived. They were hunting the Muslims down. They were carrying weapons and had come prepared,” said Mohan, now in his 60s.

Since the evening of December 6, 1992, and the next few days, Kanpur burnt in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. Exactly 25 years later, residents — both Hindus and Muslims — those affected by the days of rioting, of sleepless, harrowing nights rife with rumours and true incidents, recall gory details of the tragic month.

Barra-II witnessed the worst carnage. Yadav and Singh, while recalling the “bhayanak” day, remember how they, along with a few others – Mangali Verma and Rajeev Yadav – helped save some of them, though the administration had asked people not to venture close to the riot-hit areas.

“All our lives, we have had tea together over addas. They were like our brothers. How could we have kept away when they were in danger?” said Sohan Singh.

“Even as we encircled the open truck to let Muslims be taken first to Sachendi and then to the refugee camp at Green Park stadium, some police officers asked us to let the truck full of people be pushed into the Pandu river,” added Sohan.

“It started when Bharat Tailors was looted and burnt. Rioters came to Barra. Stuck inside the Hari Masjid, we could hear slogans and sounds of firing. This continued till December 10,” said Mohammad Suleman Jilani, mutawwali (caretaker) of the Hari Masjid.

Jilani said while officers at Govind Nagar police station did not act, Barra police station in-charge Prem Babu Sharma and outpost in-charge Jai Narayan Tiwari, were saving people’s lives. “In Damodar Nagar, a house was set on fire with 13 people inside it when Jai Narayan Tiwari helped them get out through the back door with the help of a rope, even as his own motorbike was burnt," said Jilani.

It was also because of the few Hindus of Barra area that another mosque in Nayi Basti area was saved from rioters, recalled Jilani's family. “When the area was under curfew, these men would under their protection, take a subzi-wallah to the area, so that food be made available to Muslim families under siege,” they said.

1992-1997: the events

1992, Dec 12 Narsimha Rao govt sets up Liberhan Commission to probe 1993 Liberhan Commission starts probe; CBI files chargesheet against LK Advani, 19 others HC starts hearing Ayodhya title suit The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

2003 In a survey asked for by HC, ASI finds evidence of a temple under mosque May 2001 Spl court drops criminal conspiracy charges against Advani and MM Joshi The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

Feb 2002 Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya burnt in a train in Godhra, triggering riots across Gujarat The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

April 2002 Three-judge bench of Sept 2003 CBI court rules that 7 Sangh Pariwar leaders should stand trial for inciting destruction of Babri Masjid. Advani, then deputy PM, was spared June 2009 Liberhan Commission Subramanian Swamy appeals to SC report says 68 guilty of demolition for urgent hearing The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

1992 onwards/ The legal case

Crime No. 197/1992

Haider Abbas | Babri Masjid: The story of crime # 197/1992| The Milli Gazette 16-30 June 2012 adds:

The Babri Masjid demolition case stems from two cases: Crime No. 197/1992 and Crime No 198/1992.

To begin with, on the day of demolition of Babri Masjid, on Dec 6, 1992, a First Information Report (FIR)-197/1992 was lodged at 5:15 pm by Privambada Nath Shukla (50 years), Station Officer at Police Station (PS), Ramjanum Bhumi, Ayodhya, against lakhs of Karsevaks - names and addresses unknown - Under Section (U/S) 395 (dacoity), 397(dacoity or robbery with attempt to cause death), 332 (causing hurt to deter public servants), 337, 338 (grievous hurt), 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult religion of any class, 297 (trespass in any place of worship) and 153-A of Indian Penal Code (IPC), which makes promoting enmity between different groups inter alia of religion, read with Section 7 Criminal Law Amendment Act. This eventually led to 49 FIRs being filed against 49 persons with respect to cognizable offences and one FIR relating to non-cognizable offence committed against mediapersons who were recording the demolition of the Babri Masjid and whose video cameras etc were snatched and broken/robbed by the Karsevaks.

On Dec 13, 1992, this case was entrusted for investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Later Crime No. 198/1992 also was assigned to the CBI for investigation. Both cases were obviously related, hence they were bunched together.

On Sept 8, 1993, the UP government, in consultation with the High Court, created a Special Court at Lucknow (also known as CBI Court), and on 9 Sept 1993, in consultation with HC, the state government referred Crime No. 197/1992 and 47 other cases to the Special Court headed by Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM Ayodhya Prakaran) at Lucknow.

Now, since both the cases were under the ambit of CBI, hence it filed a consolidated charge-sheet in Crime No. 198/1992, as well as against thirty-two others accused in Crime No. 197/1992 and in 47 other related cases.

By Aug 27, 1994, all the cases referred to above were committed by ACJM, Lucknow to the Lucknow Sessions Court. CBI also filed a supplementary charge-sheet on Jan 11, 1996, in which it accused another nine persons who were later committed from ACJM, Lucknow to Lucknow Sessions Court on April 10, 1996. These nine persons were a part of the overall 49 accused. All this continued for yet another year and a half, until on Sep 9, 1997 ACJM Ayodhya Prakaran (Session Court), Lucknow charged the accused U/S 147, 153-A, 153-B, 295, 295-A, 505 read with 120-B (conspiracy) IPC. For the first time, in the history of the case, the conspiracy charge was levelled.

This order was challenged by the 33 accused at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC through Criminal Revision No. 199/1997 (Moreshwar Save vs. State of UP, 201/97 (Uma Bharti alias Gajra Singh vs. State of UP, 211/97 (RN Srivastata vs State of UP) and 255/97 (Ashok Singhal vs. State of UP) which led to Justice Jagdish Bhalla at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High court say that the reference of Crime No. 198/1992 was not done in consultation with the HC, hence, the Session Court was not in a position to try the accused. This order, which came on Feb 12, 2001, derailed the entire prosecution process..

The fallout of Justice Bhalla’s : as on May 4, 2001, the CBI Court, Lucknow ordered the proceedings to be dropped against 25 accused including the eight accused in the Crime No. 198/1992 alongwith 13 of Crime No. 197/1992, on the pretext that these persons were covered by Crime No. 198/1992 in respect whereof the CBI court has no jurisdiction.

CBI chose to rise against the order and filed a Criminal Revision 217/2001 CBI vs. Balasahab Thackaray in June 2001. It seven years to reach to a point when the same Criminal Revision was decided and finally on May 20, 2009, Justice Ashok Kumar Singh found it fit to be dismissed. Against the same order CBI has gone to the Supreme Court (SC).

Crime No 198/1992

Haider Abbas | Babri Masjid: The story of crime # 197/1992| The Milli Gazette 1-15 July 2012

Crime No. 198/1992 pertains to high-ranking persons

The second First Information Report (FIR) was lodged on Dec 6, 1992, by Ganga Prasad Tiwari-U/S 153-A, 153-B (imputations prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief). This case was filed against eight hig BJP/VHP leaders: S/ Shri LK Advani, MM Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishor, Sadhvi Rithambra and Vishnu Hari Dalmia. The above sections of the Indian Penal Code are cited by police when communal speeches are delivered. The FIR was in context to the speeches delivered in the morning of Dec 6 prior to the demolition.

It took just four days for the state government, on Dec 10, 1992, to entrust the crime for investigation to Crime-Bureau Chief Investigation Department, UP (CB-CID). Six days later, on Dec 16, 1992, the state government, in consultation with the High Court, Lucknow, set up a Special Court of Judicial Magistrate at Lalitpur, UP. On Feb 27, 1993, the charge-sheet was filed U/S 153-A, 153-B, 505, 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (membership of unlawful assembly, guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of IPC. This charge-sheet was later enhanced by CB-CID at Lalitpur, UP. On March 1, 1993 the Magistrate at Lalitpur, UP took cognizance of the same. Later, on July 8, 1993, the same case was shifted to Rae Bareli, UP.

This was followed by state government requesting the central government, on Aug 25, 1993 to refer Crime No. 198/1992 to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Finally, the case was handed over to CBI, on Aug 26, 1993. The next move came in the form of state government, in consultation of the HC, creating a Special Court at Lucknow on Sept 8, 1993. On the next day, Sept 9, 1993, in consultation with HC, the state government referred Crime No. 197/1992 as well as 47 other related cases (which stemmed from the same event) to the Special Court headed by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM Ayodhya Prakaran) at Lucknow, UP. This was also called as “CBI Court”.

Next month, on Oct 5, 1993, the CBI filed a consolidated charge-sheet against all the eight high profile accused in the Crime No. 198/1992 and the Crime No. 197/1992. On Oct 8, 1993 the state government referred to it Crime No. 198/1992. The state government then failed to consult the HC before this move. It may be reiterated that the state was then under the Congress-created President’s rule, which served two terms.

The prosecution process took a further step when on Oct 11, 1993, as the ACJM took cognizance of both the cases at Lucknow, and further on Jan 24, 1994, the record which was lying at Rae Bareli, UP was brought to Lucknow. The cases were, thereafter, committed to ACJM, Lucknow, and the case continued until Sept 9, 1997, when the ACJM, Lucknow charged the accused U/S 147, 153-A, 153-B, 295, 295-A, 505 read with 120-B (conspiracy) of IPC. Here for the first time the conspiracy charge was levelled.

The moment the conspiracy charge came into play, the order was challenged by the accused at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC which, finally, led Justice Jagdish Bhalla to order on Feb 12, 2001 that since the reference of Crime No. 198/1992 was not done in consultation with the HC, the Sessions Court was in no position to try the accused..

“CBI deleted the conspiracy charge in its supplementary charge-sheet against LK Advani filed at Rae Bareli Court on March 30, 2003, and thus paved the way for his discharge order from the Babri Masjid demolition case. This happened on Sept 19, 2003 by the First Class Magistrate. Later, all the other high-profile accused got the criminal proceedings “stayed” on the same grounds, on Sept 30, 2003 from the HC. Solicitor general RN Trivedi to opposed the Muslim side revision petition, which ultimately had led Justice YR Tripathi at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, on July 5, 2005, to order that prima facie the charge against all the eight accused, including Advani was maintainable,” informed Zafaryab Jilani, the co-convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee. The case got a fresh lease of life at Rae Bareli albeit without the conspiracy charge.

End of the item with the heading The legal case


1998: The BJP forms coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

2001: Tensions rise on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque. VHP pledges again to build Hindu temple at the site.

January 2002: Mr Vajpayee sets up an Ayodhya cell in his office and appoints a senior official, Shatrughna Singh, to hold talks with Hindu and Muslim leaders.

February 2002: BJP rules out committing itself to the construction of a temple in its election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. VHP confirms deadline of 15 March to begin construction. Hundreds of volunteers converge on site. At least 58 people are killed in an attack on a train in Godhra which is carrying Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya.

March 2002: Between 1,000 and 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, die in riots in Gujarat following the train attack.

BBC adds: More than 50 people died in February 2002 when a train carrying Hindu activists returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya was set alight, allegedly by a Muslim mob.

At least 1,000 people - mainly Muslims - died in the violence in the state that erupted afterwards. Other estimates say the death toll was at least double that. End of the BBC item.

April 2002: Three High Court judges begin hearings on determining who owns the religious site.

2002: The High Court directs the Archaeological Survey of India to excavate the site to determine if a temple lay underneath

January 2003: Archaeologists begin a court-ordered survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site.

The 2003 charge-sheet

V. Venkatesan | Charge-sheet in Ayodhya case | June 07 - 20, 2003| Frontline

ON May 31, 2003, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a supplementary charge-sheet against Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and seven others, including Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, former Union Minister Uma Bharti, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vinay Katiyar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal, in the Babri Masjid demolition case in a Special Court in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh. The report, filed by CBI counsel S.S. Gandhi, contains the statements of 39 witnesses, besides documents and press reports relating to the investigation of case No.198/92 by the agency after September 10, 1993. The development has led to fresh demands from Opposition parties, especially the Communist Party of India (Marxist), that Advani and Joshi should quit the government to enable the CBI to pursue the prosecution of the case in an unbiased manner.

The CBI had filed its consolidated charge-sheet against most of the accused in the case before the Special Court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow, on October 5, 1993. The supplementary charge-sheet had to be filed after the Supreme Court upheld the Uttar Pradesh government's notification setting up a Special Court in Rae Bareli to deal with the charges. The accused face charges of inciting communal feelings that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.

In February 2001, the Allahabad High Court had quashed the charges against Advani and others, citing a procedural lapse, which resulted in the State government transferring the case to a special CBI court without due consultation with the High Court, as required under the law. The Uttar Pradesh government, led by Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati, issued the notification to set up the Special CBI court in Rae Bareli following persistent demand from civil rights groups and Opposition parties.

End of the Frontline item


August 2003: The survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings. Mr Vajpayee says at the funeral of Hindu activist Ramchandra Das Paramhans that he will fulfil the dying man's wishes and build a temple at Ayodhya and hopes the courts and negotiations will solve the issue.

September 2003: A court rules that seven Hindu leaders should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque, but no charges are brought against L.K Advani (later the deputy prime minister) who was also at the site in 1992.

Oct 2004: Mr Advani says his party still has "unwavering" commitment to building a temple at Ayodhya, which he said was "inevitable".

November 2004: A court in Uttar Pradesh rules that an earlier order which exonerated Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.

July 2005: Suspected Islamic militants attack the disputed site, using a jeep laden with explosives to blow a hole in the wall of the complex. Security forces kill five people they say are militants, and a sixth who was not immediately identified.

2007: The Supreme Court refuses to admit a review petition on the Ayodhya dispute.

June 2009: The Liberhan commission investigating events leading up to the mosque's demolition submits its report - 17 years after it began its inquiry.

November 2009: There is uproar in parliament as the Liberhan commission's report is published and it blames leading politicians from the Hindu nationalist BJP for a role in the mosque's razing.

July 2010 - On July 27, the court took the initiative for an amicable solution to the dispute when it called on counsel for the contending parties to go into the possibility. But no headway was made. (Reality Views)

September 2010 (Reality Views) adds: The Special Bench, at its Bench of Judicature here, comprising Justices S.U. Khan, D.V. Sharma and Sudhir Agarwal, said that Mr. Tripathi's application lacked merit. It also imposed “exemplary costs” of Rs. 50,000, terming his effort for an out-of-court settlement as a “mischievous attempt.”

Mr. Tripathi's plea was opposed by the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha and the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, which submitted separate replies to the OSD on September 16. Stating that an amicable solution was not possible, they alleged that the application was mala fide.

The case combines five suits, the last of which, filed in 1989, actually lists the two plaintiffs as “Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman and Asthan Shri Ram Janmabhoomi”, represented by “their next friend” Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal, a retired judge and a former VHP vice-president. Agarwal is dead, as are two other petitioners Gopal Singh Visharad and Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das. (Reality Views)

September 2010: Allahabad High Court rules that the site should be split, with the Muslim community getting control of a third, Hindus another third and the Nirmohi Akhara sect the remainder. Control of the main disputed section, where the mosque was torn down, is given to Hindus. . A lawyer for the Muslim community says he will appeal

2010/ Allahabad High Court's ruling

From Q&A: The Ayodhya dispute |5 December 2012| BBC

Allahabad High Court's ruling in September 2010 addressed three questions. It said that the disputed spot was Ram's birthplace, that the mosque was built after the demolition of a temple and that it was not built in accordance with the tenets of Islam.

Following the decision, Hindus hope to see a temple built on the site, while Muslims are still demanding the reconstruction of the mosque.

In 2011 the Supreme Court suspended the ruling after Hindu and Muslim groups appealed against the 2010 verdict.

Who was awarded what?

The court ruled in an 8,500-page judgement that two-thirds of the disputed site should be allocated to Hindu groups, with the remainder to Muslims.

For the first time in a judicial ruling, it said that the disputed site was the birthplace of the Hindu god.

The court ordered that the current arrangement at Ayodhya - which is currently the site of a makeshift Hindu temple - should be "maintained as the status quo" for three months to allow time for any appeals against the judgement.

How did the judges rule on the conflicting claims?

The court ruled that the disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram, who is "both a juristic person and a deity".

The two Hindu judges on the three-judge panel said that the building constructed by the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, Babur, was not a mosque because it was built "against the tenets of Islam" on the site of a demolished Hindu temple.

However the Muslim judge in the case dissented from this view, arguing that no temple had been destroyed and that the mosque was built on ruins.

The two Hindu judges also agreed that the Ayodhya site was found by the Archaeological Survey of India originally to have been "a massive Hindu religious structure" and that Hindus had been worshipping there as a "sacred place of pilgrimage... since time immemorial".

It also ruled that Hindu idols were placed in the disputed structure in 1949 - a point which Muslims argue is important because that act, they say, triggered much of the tension over Ayodhya that remains today.

End of the BBC item

December 2010: The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Waqf Board moved to the Supreme Court of India, challenging part of the Allahabad High Court’s verdict.

The judgement explained

Krishnadas Rajagopal, Ayodhya verdict: decoding Allahabad HC's nine-year-old majority judgment under challenge in SC, November 9, 2019: The Times of India

The suit filed by the Ayodhya deity, Sri Bhagwan Ram Virajman, goes a step ahead to seek the construction of a temple on the land and the declaration of the infant deity and Ram Janam Asthan as juridical persons with untrammeled rights over the property

The Supreme Court will pass its verdict on the appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim parties against the majority 2:1 judgment of the Allahabad High Court on September 30, 2010 in the suits filed for declaration of title and possession of the disputed 2.77-acre Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya.

The suit filed by the Ayodhya deity, Sri Bhagwan Ram Virajman, goes a step ahead to seek the construction of a temple on the land and the declaration of the infant deity and Ram Janam Asthan as juridical persons with untrammeled rights over the property.

It is important to decipher the final conclusions of the high court and individual findings of each of the three judges on the Bench – Justices S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D.V. Sharma – to understand the issues at stake before the apex court in the nearly century-old dispute which has transgressed cultures, religions and faith of the people, namely the Hindu and Muslim communities.

Nine years ago, the high court had concluded that both Hindus and Muslims were joint title holders of the disputed property. It divided the property among the Hindus, Muslims and a religious sect called the Nirmohi Akhara, which claimed that it had been managing the worship at the site for time immemorial. The court had declared that Muslims should not receive a share less than one-third of the disputed premises.

Conclusions of the High Court

The central dome of the disputed building, Babri Masjid, which was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992, is the exact birthplace of Lord Ram “as per faith and belief of the Hindus”.

The area within the inner courtyard belong to members of both the communities, i.e., Hindus and Muslims as they have used it "since decades and centuries".

The area covered by the structures, namely, Ram Chabutra, Sita Rasoi and Bhandar in the outer courtyard belongs to Nirmohi Akhara.

The open area within the outer courtyard shall be shared by Nirmohi Akhara and the deity, "since it has been generally used by the Hindu people for worship at both places".

In case of grievances while partitioning the property, minor adjustments can be made to compensate the affected party from the land acquired by the Centre under the Ayodhya Act of 1993.

The acquired land should be made available to Hindus and Muslims for enjoyment of their shares in the disputed property and for separate entry for egress and ingress of the people without disturbing each others' rights.

The parties may approach the Officer on Special Duty, Ayodhya Bench at Lucknow or the Registrar, Lucknow Bench, Lucknow, for formal partition of the disputed premises, but they should maintain status quo for three months from the date of the high court judgment.

Justices Khan, Agarwal and Sharma separately answered the several issues raised in the various suits, including whether the disputed structure on the property was a mosque protected under the waqf law, whether the first Mughal Emperor Babar built the structure in 1528, whether a Hindu temple was demolished to build the 'mosque', and finally, whether the Ram Janam Asthan is a 'juridical person'.

Justice Khan

The disputed structure was a mosque, but there is no direct evidence that Babar built it. No temple was demolished to construct the mosque. The mosque was constructed over temple ruins, using materials from the pre-existing structure. However, Justice Khan concluded that both Hindus and Muslims were unable to prove the commencement of their title over the disputed property.

The judge found that for a "very long time" before the construction of the mosque, Hindus believed that somewhere in the large premises Lord Ram was born. After the construction of the mosque, the Hindus believed that Lord Ram was born in the constructed portion of the disputed property. Then, some decades before 1949, Hindus started treating the exact spot under the central dome of the mosque as the birthplace of Lord Ram. The idol was placed under this central dome in the early hours of December 23, 1949.

Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi existed before 1855. The Hindus were worshipping there. The premises uniquely saw both Hindus offering worship as well as the Muslims offering namaz inside its boundary wall and compound. Both Hindus and Muslims were in joint possession of the disputed land.

Justice Agarwal

Agrees with Justice Khan on three points - That the exact birthplace of Lord Ram was under the central dome of the mosque; the disputed structure was always treated by the Muslims as a mosque; and there is no direct evidence that the mosque was built by Babar in 1528 AD. He however adds that the mosque was built definitely before the traveller Joseph Tieffenthaler visited Oudh in 1766-71.

But Justice Agarwal disagreed with Justice Khan on one point. That is, Justice Agarwal, unlike his colleague on the Bench, concluded that the mosque was built after demolishing a temple.

Justice Sharma

He concluded that the disputed structure was not a mosque and not built by Babar. A temple was demolished to build the disputed structure - a finding, the judge said, is supported by the Archeological Survey of India excavations at the site. He endorsed the argument that the pillars inside the mosque had images of Hindu gods, which is uncharacteristic of the architecture of a mosque under the tents of Islam.

Justice Sharma decided that Muslims did not use the building to offer prayers from 1528 AD. He confirmed a 1966 decision of a Civil Judges that the property was not a waqf as no valid notification was issued under Section 5(1) of the Muslim Waqf Act of 1936. He concluded that the Hindus had adverse possessory rights over the property which perfected their right of prayers.

He held that the laws of limitation applicable in a title declaratory suit did not apply for the Ayodhya deity, which is a minor.

Significantly, Justice Sharma supports the claim in the deity's suit that the disputed property, Ram Janm Bhumi' is itself a juristic person capable of having rights and endowed with immunity from any challenge under the law to its ownership. He had observed that the "Asthan is personified as the spirit of the divine". The arguments in the Supreme Court were largely based on this claim.

Further details

November 10, 2019: The Hindu

The floor plan of the disputed structure according to the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict.
From: Omar Rashid, K. Venkataramanan, November 10, 2019: The Hindu
A look at the chronology of events that led to the verdict and what followed after it, and the key plaintiffs in the case- Jan 13, 1950- July 1, 1989
From: Omar Rashid, K. Venkataramanan, November 10, 2019: The Hindu

See graphics:

The floor plan of the disputed structure according to the 2010 Allahabd High Court verdict.

A look at the chronology of events that led to the verdict and what followed after it, and the key plaintiffs in the case- Jan 13, 1950- July 1, 1989

Here is a backgrounder on the suits, issues and developments that led up to the Allahabad High Court verdict of 2010.

This judgment by a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court had ordered a three-way partition of the disputed area among the deity, Ram Lalla and his ‘janmasthan’, the Nirmohi Akhara, an old order of Hindu saints that was maintaining a part of the area outside the now-demolished Masjid, and the Muslim parties. However, the Supreme Court on Saturday dismissed the remedy fashioned by the High Court as one that “defied logic”.

What is the crux of the dispute?

At the crux of the matter is the belief among sections of Hindus that the Babri Masjid, names after Mughal emperor Babur, was built in Ayodhya after destroying a Ram Temple that marked the birthplace of the deity. The Hindu parties wanted the land to themselves, contending that Lord Ram was born at a spot on which later the central dome of the mosque was built. The Muslim parties, however, contended that the mosque was constructed in 1528 by Mir Baqi, a commander of Babur’s army, without demolishing any place of worship and since the land rights had not been transferred to any other party, the space was rightfully theirs.

Who took the matter to court? What did they want?

The matter went to court as far back as 1885. Mahant Raghubar Dass filed a suit as “mahant of the janmasthan” for permission to build a temple on a 17 feet x 21 feet Chabutra (platform) outside the mosque. The Sub-Judge, Faizabad, dismissed the suit. On appeal, the District Judge also dismissed it. The dispute did not go to courts for many decades and was continuously in the possession of Muslims. However, a large crowd of Hindus entered the premises on the night of December 22-23, 1949 and planted idols of Ram surreptitiously under the central dome. Six days later, the City Magistrate, Faizabad, attached the premises and handed it over to an official receiver.

In January 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad, a local devotee, filed a suit asserting his right to worship at the birthplace of Ram and seeking an injunction against the administration and Muslim residents from interfering with that right. An interim order was passed in his favour against the removal of the idols. This order survives to this day. A similar suit was filed by Ram Chandra Paramahans late in 1950, but it was withdrawn in 1990. The Nirmohi Akhara, said to be an age-old institution of Ramanand Vairagis based in Ayodhya, filed a third suit in 1959, seeking removal of the official receiver and asking for the premises to be handed over to itself and its mahants. Muslim parties entered the picture in December 1961, when the Uttar Pradesh Central Sunni Wakf Board filed a suit, asserting that the mosque was a public wakf for over 400 years and seeking that the premises, including the mosque and a public Muslim graveyard in the vicinity, to be handed over to it.

After the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’ movement, spearheaded by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gathered momentum in the late 1980s, a fifth suit was filed by the ‘deity’ itself. Interestingly, there were three plaintiffs, Ram Lalla, the presiding deity, Ram Janmasthan, the birthplace being considered a divinity in itself, and the believer/worshipper who represented the two deities.

What were the landmark events over the years?

If the surreptitious planting of the idols in 1949 was the most notable event that revived the dispute in the last century, there were other flashpoints too. On February 1, 1986, a local court ordered that the locks be opened for Hindu worshippers. This order gave a big push to the temple movement. The BJP and the VHP thereafter began mobilising people all over the country, and repeatedly fixed dates for marching on the disputed site. There were ‘shilanyas’ processions (to carry consecrated bricks from across the country to be used in the construction) as well as gatherings of ‘kar sevaks’ (volunteers to build the temple). A belligerent onslaught on a heavily barricaded Ayodhya town resulted in the police opening fire on ‘kar sevaks’ in 1990. The incident led to the BJP withdrawing support to the V.P. Singh government. In between, the Allahabad High Court passed an order transferring all the suits to itself and ordering a consolidated hearing before a Full Bench of three judges.

BJP leader L.K. Advani led a ‘rath yatra’ across several States, leaving a trail of communal violence. Ultimately, the aggressive mobilisation resulted in the destruction of the masjid on December 6, 1992, despite the assurances given by the BJP government of Kalyan Singh. On January 7, 1993, the Centre issued an ordinance taking over the entire disputed area and the land close to it, and declared that all the suits would abate. This was later replaced by the Ayodhya Acquisition Act, 1993. However, by a verdict on October 10, 1994, the Supreme Court revived the title suits, and modified the acquisition to the effect that the Centre would not be the owner, but the Receiver of the land and would dispose of the land in terms of the final judgment in the suits.

From the ‘surreptitious’ planting of idols of Ram Lalla under the central dome of the Babri Masjid in 1949, the opening of the locks of the mosque in 1986 for Hindu worshippers and the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict dividing the disputed land among three plaintiffs, the case had several landmark moments. The Mughal-era mosque was demolished by a mob of Hindutva activists on December 6, 1992.

What do the people of Ayodhya want?

The people of Ayodhya-Faizabad have been waiting for an end to the dispute. Opinions in the town mirror communal and ideological divisions; but what most residents agree upon is the stagnation or lack of development, despite the town being located just 125 km from the State capital.

Lack of jobs and investment, poor infrastructure and an underdeveloped tourism economy have kept Ayodhya far behind other important Hindu religious centres like Mathura and Varanasi.

Over the past years, especially since the R S S-VHP led movement swept much of north India, Ayodhya became the centrestage for communal politics and a tool for polarisation before elections. The high-pitched events not only disrupted daily life and business, but also endangered communal harmony in the region.

Was the possibility of a settlement explored?

There were several sustained attempts at talks, including at the highest level of two Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and P.V. Narasimha Rao. Religious leaders also came into the picture, but all efforts to bring about an out-of-court settlement failed. In the latest exercise, a mediation panel constituted by the Supreme Court also could not end the stalemate.

Given that there were multiple parties on both ends in the legal dispute, including the VHP-R S S led seers, a settlement — apart from the surrender of the disputed land by the Muslim side — has always sounded unimaginable. A group of prominent Muslims led by retired general Zameer Uddin Shah recently advocated that the Muslims give up their claim as a token of goodwill, while arguing that even if the minority community prevails in court, it would be next to impossible for them to re-build a mosque at the site. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, one of the parties, however, rejected this proposal, saying the status of the land on which the Babri Masjid stood cannot be “altered, changed or transferred in any manner”.

The Muslim side fears that if the claim is ceded in Ayodhya, it could trigger similar demands in places such as Varanasi and Mathura. The VHP, on the other hand, had regularly insisted that the entire land be handed over to the Hindus and that a division of the title, such as the one the Allahabad High Court ordered, was not desirable.

16 appeals against HC order

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Five-judge bench to hear Ayodhya case from Jan 10, January 9, 2019: The Times of India

The first order in the appeals against the 2010 Ayodhya judgment of the Allahabad high court was passed in May 2011 by a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha, which had stayed the HC verdict dividing the 2.77-acre disputed land equally among three parties — Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board. Since then, the benches that heard the Ayodhya appeal from time to time always had a judge belonging to the Muslim community. But the five-judge bench, set up by the CJI, does not have a single judge from the minority community.

On September 29, a bench of then CJI Misra and Justices Bhushan and Nazeer, by a 2-1 majority, had held that appeals against the Allahabad HC’s verdict on Ayodhya land dispute will be heard by a threejudge bench. Justice Nazeer had leaned in favour of the Ayodhya dispute being sent to a five-judge bench. There are 16 appeals and petitions by Hindu and Muslim parties challenging the Allahabad HC’s October 2010 verdict.

2011-16: events

2011 All 3 sides—Nirmohi Akhara, Nov 2017 Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Ram Lalla Virajman and Sunni Waqf Board—appeal against verdict in Supreme Court The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

May 2011 SC stays HC verdict, orders status quo at site The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

Feb 2016 BJP leader Shankar meets litigants of both sides in Lucknow and Ayodhya for a mediation The Times of India | 6 Dec 2017

The case in the Supreme Court

2002 & 2007, SC had upheld separate trials

Dhananjay Mahapatra, In 2002 & 2007, SC had upheld separate trials, April 20, 2017: The Times of India

The apex court had twice, in 2002 and 2007, upheld an Allahabad high court order for separate trials in Rae Bareli and Lucknow.

An SC bench headed by then Chief Justice of India G B Pattanaik had on November 29, 2002, dismissed a petition filed by Mohd Aslam aka Bhure. The latter had challenged the Allahabad HC judgment of September 9, 1997, quashing on technical grounds the UP government's October 8, 1993, notification which ordered that trial of BJP leaders in Rae Bareli (to where it was shifted from Lalitpur in July 1993) and that of kar sevaks in Lucknow should jointly be held in Lucknow.

Bhure sought review of the SC's 2002 order. On March 22, 2007, a bench of then Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice G P Mathur and Justice R V Raveendran dismissed the petition, which had alle ged that though the HC had said the technical defects in the 1993 notification could be cured, the UP government had not taken any step towards it. Dismissing the review petition, the bench had said, "It is for the state government to take appropriate steps... if it so desires, by issuing a fresh notification. We are of the opinion that the earlier order passed by this court dismissing the special leave petition does not require any reconsideration. There is no error apparent on the face of the record nor do the facts and circumstances warrant any interference with our earlier order. The review petition is without any merit."

The SC invoked its inherent powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to overcome the "technical defects" in the 1993 notification and ordered joint trial of BJP leaders and kar sevaks in the Babri Masjid demolition case in Lucknow.

The order came on a peti tion filed by the CBI on February 9, 2011, challenging another order of the Allahabad HC, which had upheld the Rae Bareli court's May 20, 2010 judgment absolving L K Advani and other BJP leaders of the conspiracy charge.

A bench of Justice V S Sirpurkar and Justice T S Thakur (who later became CJI) had on March 4, 2011, issued notices to all the accused and sought their response to the CBI's appeal. Since March 4, 2011, the case was listed 31 times before various benches, which together comprised 14 other judges as well.

The 14 judges who heard the matter over the years are H L Dattu, R M Lodha, J S Khehar, Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi, Arun Mishra, Amitava Roy , Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, Sudhansu J Mukhopadhaya, M Y Eqbal, V Gopala Gowda and G S Singhvi. Finally, it was decided by a bench comprising Justice P C Ghose and Justice R F Nariman.

2011: CBI moves SC against Advani

CBI moves SC against Advani in Babri demolition case| February 18, 2011 Rediff

The Central Bureau of Investigation has moved the Supreme Court challenging an Allahabad High Court order that dropped charges of criminal conspiracy against top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

In its appeal, the agency said that the high court had not come to the right conclusion and the charges of criminal conspiracy should be restored against them.

The Allahabad High Court had on May 20, 2010 dismissed the CBI plea seeking revival of criminal conspiracy charges against top BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders which also included Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Sadhvi Rithambara and Mahant Avaidya Nath.

The other leaders were former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, besides Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray.

End of Rediff item

May 2011: Supreme Court suspends High Court ruling after Hindu and Muslim groups appeal against the 2010 verdict.

2013, CBI's appeal was on brink of dismissal

Dhananjay Mahapatra, In 2013, CBI's appeal was on brink of dismissal, April 20, 2017: The Times of India

The CBI succeeded in getting quashed the May 20, 2010, judgment of the Allahabad HC absolving BJP leaders L K Advani and others of conspiracy charge, but its appeal was on the brink of dismissal in 2013.

The appeal was filed on February 9, 2011, and the SC had issued notice on March 4, 2011. But on April 2, 2013, it was on the brink of dismissal as a bench asked the CBI to explain why it took eight months to file an appeal against the HC judgment. The appeal should have been filed by August 29, 2010.

In an affidavit on April 16, 2013, the CBI had said, “The delay has been occasioned because everyone associated with the matter was cautious, keeping in mind the sensitivity involved in the matter and wanted to exercise due diligence.“ It further said, “Time has been consumed because the appealing party was the state and it had to be circumspective and take all necessary steps before challenging the high court order“.

In its September 6, 2010, letter to the Central Law Agency , which coordinates filing of cases on behalf of the Union government and its agencies in the SC, the CBI had said, “Well before the deadline of August 29, 2010, the ministry of home affairs had on August 2, 2010, approved filing of the special leave petition in the SC and (seek) stay on the ongoing trials at Rae Bareli and Lucknow. However, the home minister (P Chidambaram), in a meeting held on July 28, 2010, to discuss Ayodhya trials, directed the CBI to take steps to expedite the trials in both courts.

“In view of these contrary directions, the CBI director clarified this matter with the home minister on August 24, 2010, and the home minister directed that the trial of these cases may be expedited and CBI should not pray for stay.“

The CBI, in another letter to the Central Law Agency on September 23, 2010, said, “In view of the importance and sensitivity of this matter and also as limitation period for filing the SLP has already expired, it is requested to take necessary action to expedite the same.“

The appeal was drafted on October 1, 2010, and sent for finalisation to the solicitor general. The SG wrote on January 25, 2011, saying the appeal was settled by him and that it should be filed early . The SLP was finally filed in the SC on February 9, 2011. The SC had accepted the explanation.

2015: The man who petitioned the Supreme Court

Seema Chishti | Babri Masjid demolition case: Courts are ‘the only way ahead when accused are in govt’, says Haji Mehboob| April 1, 2015 | Indian Express

Haji Mehboob (born 1938) is a well-known figure in Ayodhya for residents as well as the journalists who travel there every so often to report on the mandir-masjid dispute.

A member of the Aman Committee, he is held in high regard but his standing was not able to prevent the arson and looting that accompanied the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. He fled to a neighbouring village relatively untouched by the tension. His Ayodhya home is just a stone’s throw from what used to be the Babri Masjid.

Asked what prompted him to petition the Supreme Court at a time when the BJP was in a full majority in the Centre and L K Advani had been awarded the Padma Bhushan just hours earlier, he replied, “I believe that there is justice and I have full faith in the Supreme Court.

Woh bikaa nahi hai. We all saw what happened in the 2010 Ayodhya verdict in the high court, which was like a bandar baant (random lottery), a gumbad (dome) each being gifted to three parties. The judgment should have clearly stated whose title it was and who was in the right. The Supreme Court on the other hand was very rational and sensible. As far as this goes, I have made this appeal hoping that justice will be done, however late and whoever may be powerful or in power.”

Haji Mehboob recalls how he moved court even when Advani’s name had been removed from the list of accused, incidentally at a time when Advani was deputy PM and home minister. “Yes, we all saw what was made possible when he was the deputy PM and home minister and was suddenly freed of charges. Zafaryab Jilani and I appealed against it in 2003 and we got justice when he was made an accused again in 2005 and had to go to the Rae Bareli court. I am hopeful that things will work out. It is not about me but the injustice done to a whole set of people would be rectified and corrected.”

2017: SC on the conspiracy charge

SC faults dropping of Babri conspiracy charge against LK Mar 07 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Babri Masjid demolition case The conspiracy charge

Suggests Jt Trial Of Advani, Uma, Joshi, Others

There are two sets of cases -one against L K Advani and other political and religious heads who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya in December 1992 when the Babri Masjid fell, while the other case was against unknown karsevaks who had clambered on to and were around the disputed structure.

CBI filed a chargesheet against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and 18 others under Section 153A (promoting enmity between classes), Section 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and Section 505 (false statements, rumours circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace). The agency had subsequently invoked charges under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) that were quashed by a Rae Bareli trial court against 13 persons including Advani.

The order of the trial court was upheld by the Allahabad HC and CBI thereafter approached the apex court to appeal against dropping of the conspiracy charge.

The conspiracy charge against senior BJP leaders in a Babri Masjid demolition case could be revived, with the Supreme Court noting that the charge was dropped on a technicality and suggesting joint trial of the accused.

The demolition case was back in focus in March 2017 just ahead of the final round of polling in Uttar Pradesh as a bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said the conspiracy charge was dropped merely on a technical ground.

At that stage, the trial against BJP leaders was going on in a Rae Bareli court on charges other than conspiracy while proceedings against “unknown persons“ (kar sevaks who were around the disputed structure) are on in a Lucknow court.

Appearing for CBI [in March 2017, during the NDA regime], addi tional solicitor general Neeraj Kaul stuck to the stand taken during the tenure of the UPA government seeking revival of conspiracy charges and said the agency was agreeable to clubbing both trial proceedings.

The bench said it was prima facie of the view that conspiracy charge should not have been dropped and expressed concern over the inordinate delay in trial proceedings. It asked Kaul, appearing for the CBI, why the trials should not be clubbed together.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Advani, opposed the plea and contended that joint trial was not possible as about 186 witnesses would have to be re-examined.

The apex court had earlier questioned CBI for delay in filing an appeal against the high court order and had said that it would first decide the maintainability of the appeal before going into the merit of the case.

2017/ SC: ‘resolve differences through negotiations’

Dhananjay Mahapatra, SC calls for talks to resolve Ayodhya dispute, CJI Khehar offers to mediate, Mar 22, 2017: The Times of India

Eight attempts that failed to resolve the Babri Masjid crisis, 1986-2016; The Times of India, Mar 22, 2017
Babri Masjid, the criminal conspiracy case against senior leaders; The Times of India, April 20, 2017

Swamy Asked To Speak To All Parties Involved

In a surprise development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday urged the opposing parties in the Ayodhya dispute to make another attempt to resolve their differences through negotiations. Chief Justice of India J S Khehar advocated a “give and take“ approach and even offered himself as a mediator.

The sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was back in the limelight just days after a BJP government headed by Aditya Nath Yogi took office in Uttar Pradesh.

The CJI said, “The parties must first sit together and hold a meeting cordially to agree to settle the sentimental issue through negotia tions. It is far better than fighting in court.“

The SC asked BJP MP Subramanian Swamy to talk to all parties and renew his request for early hearing of petitions on March 31. If the parties do not reach a consensus to restart negotiations, the judicial process is likely to proceed.

Swamy provided the trigger for a torrent of observations from a bench of Chief Justice Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul by seeking urgent hearing on appeals against the Allahabad HC's Sep tember 30, 2010 judgment which divided the disputed land into three equal parts between Sunni Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and `Ram Lalla', the idol.

The SC had stayed the high court verdict on May 9, 2011 with the judges on the bench -Aftab Alam and R M Lodha -terming the decision strange as no party to the suits had claimed relief on the lines decided by the ruling. The contestants to the disputed sites clearly did not accept the HC's formulation.

When Swamy mentioned the petitions for early hea ring, the CJI said it was not difficult to list the case and decide the issue judicially . “But this is not one of those issues which can be decided in a huff.Given the sensitivity attached to the issues in question, it is best to settle the differences through negotiations between parties. All must adopt a `give a bit and take a bit' approach to find a solution to this issue,“ the CJI said.

Swamy said several attempts had been made in the past to find a negotiated settlement to the vexed issue that has been festering for nearly 70 years but the CJI said it wo uld do no harm if the parties sat together and chalked out a format for negotiation and informed the court about it.

Justice Khehar took most by surprise when he offered his service as principal mediator for negotiators chosen by parties to the dispute to facilitate talks.

“If parties want me to do the job, I will not hear this case and take up that task. If the parties want a brother judge, I am ready to provide him for facilitating the negotiation process,“ he said. This is significant, as it would be for the first time the SC has ex pressed willingness to provide a sitting judge as facilitator of negotiations between parties to find a solution to the dispute which is shrouded in competing claims, which includes the alleged placing of idols of Ram and other gods in the central dome of the disputed structure on December 23, 1949.

“If you want, the parties can choose negotiators of their choice for this purpose.These issues are best settled by sitting jointly . We can decide the issue judicially and our order will bind all parties.But such sensitive issues are best decided through negotiations by adopting a give and take policy,“ the CJI said.

Allahabad HC had taken into account pleadings by all parties as well as findings of the Archaeological Survey of India, which was tasked to identify whether the disputed structure was built on a temple by Mughal king Babur in the 16th century .

All three judges of the HC bench wrote separate judgments but the common point in the majority judgment was that the 2.7 acres of land, on which the disputed structure was located before its demolition on December 6, 1992, would be divided equally between Sunni Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the idol of `Ram Lalla', which was considered a legal entity.

Immediately after demolition of the Babri Masjid by `kar sevaks' on December 6, 1992, the central government had in 1993 persuaded Parliament to enact the Ayodhya Act to acquire the entire 67.03 acres of land around the disputed structure. The SC had ordered status quo in the 67.03 acres while allowing worship of `Ram Lalla' in a makeshift temple near the demolished structure. In its May 9, 2011 interim order, the court had reiterated the status quo.

2017: Advani, Joshi, Uma to be tried again for Babri conspiracy

Dhananjay Mahapatra & Amit Anand Choudhary, April 20, 2017: The Times of India

Proceedings To Be Wrapped Up in Two Yrs: SC

In a serious setback to BJP veterans, the Supreme Court resurrected criminal conspiracy charges against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati and others in the 25-year-old Babri Masjid demolition case and set a two-year deadline for conclusion of trial.

Adopting a tough `let justice be done though the heavens fall' line in the appeal filed by the CBI in the politically sen sitive case, a bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman on Wednesday invoked the power vested in it under Article 142 of the Constitu tion to transfer the trial against the BJP functionaries from Rae Bareli to Lucknow. SC’s decision means that two trials — conspiracy charges against Sangh leaders and a case dealing with the demolition of Babri Masjid — will proceed simultaneously.

The court ordered charges to be framed in four weeks, daytoday trial and fixed a two-year deadline for the Lucknow court to pronounce judgment in both cases. It also said there would be no de novo (fresh) trial and that matters would proceed from the stage where they have reached. Frowning at frequent transfers of trial judges assigned to the case, the SC said the trial judge would not be mo ved and directed the CBI to ensure presence of witnesses.

Quashing a May 2010 order of the Allahabad HC that absolved senior BJP leaders of the criminal conspiracy charge, the bench said, “The court of sessions (in Lucknow) will frame within four weeks an additional charge under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) against Advani, Joshi, Bharati, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara, Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamandaleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem and Dr S C Nagar.”

Some of the accused are dead. Framing of conspiracy charge against the BJP leaders means they will be liable to face trial for offences committed by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992, when the mosque was demolis hed. The trial of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray has abated after his death.

The SC said since the alleged offences committed by BJP leaders and kar sevaks were adjopart of the same intent to carry out the alleged conspiracy, trials could not have been separated, irrespective of the fact that 49 different FIRs were lodged.

“That being the case, it is clear that the said accused could not possibly have been discharged, as they were already arrayed as accused insofar as the charge of criminal conspiracy was concerned, which would be gone into by the special judge, Lucknow, while dealing with the offences made out in FIR No. 197 of 1992 (against kar sevaks),” the SC said. Writing the 40-page no frills judgment for the bench, Justice Nariman said the trial court will conclude proceedings in two years by conducting day-to-day hearing.

It imposed tough conditions for completion of trial in two years that could restrict the options of defence lawyers seeking loopholes. “The trial court will, after transfer of proceedings from Rae Bareli to Lucknow and framing of additional charges, within four weeks, take up all the matters on a day-to-day basis from the stage at which the trial proceedings, both at Rae Bareli and at Lucknow, are continuing, until conclusion of the trial,” it said.

“There shall be no de novo trial. There shall be no transfer of the judge conducting the trial until the entire trial concludes. The case shall not be adjo mourned on any ground except when the sessions court finds it impossible to carry on the trial for that particular date. In such an event, on grant of adjournment to the next day or a closely proximate date, reasons for the same shall be recorded in writing,” the bench said.

The court also put the CBI to strict terms. “The CBI shall ensure that on every date fixed for evidence, some prosecution witnesses must remain present, so that for want of witnesses the matter be not adjourned,” it said and permitted all parties before the trial court to move the SC “in the event of these directions not being carried out, both in letter and spirit”.

2018: SC rejects Muslim plea for 5-judge bench; directs early hearings

Dhananjay Mahapatra & Amit Anand Choudhary, SC decision paves way for early hearing of Ayodhya land row, September 28, 2018: The Times of India

The Supreme Court removed the roadblocks for early hearing of seven-year-old appeals challenging the Allahabad high court’s decision to divide the 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya equally among three parties by rejecting the pleas of Muslim parties to refer to a five-judge bench the appeals as well as a contentious remark in a 1994 SC judgment that a “mosque is not essential to Islam or offering of namaz”.

It ordered commencement of hearing on the appeals from the week beginning October 29 in what can brighten the prospect for resolution of the vexed issue of ownership of the disputed Ayodhya site next year, perhaps even before Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April-May.

During the arguments that started on December 5 last year, when the CJI-led bench was told that it would take at least one year for completion of arguments given the voluminous documents as well as other evidence, the bench had asked, “Arguments on the title suits before the Allahabad HC took only 90 days and the appeals will go on for a year?”

On Thursday, a bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer by 2-1 majority said, “We are of the considered opinion that no case is made out to refer the 1994 Constitution bench judgment of this court in Ismail Faruqui for reconsideration. We make it clear that questionable observations made in Faruqui’s case were made in the context of land acquisition. Those observations were neither relevant for deciding the (title) suits (in Allahabad HC) nor relevant for deciding these appeals.” However, Justice Nazeer stuck a dissenting note to the majority verdict that Justice Bhushan wrote for himself and CJI Misra.

He mentioned a three-judge bench’s order on September 24 which had referred petitions seeking a ban on the Dawoodi Bohra community’s practice of female genital mutilation to a five-judge bench and said that the Ayodhya land dispute, as well as the remark in the Faruqui judgment, raised an important constitutional question deserving reference to a larger bench. The Muslim parties had argued that a five-judge bench needed to hear the issue raised by the 1994 judgment about the essentiality of mosques to Islam before getting down to adjudicate the appeals against the Allahabad HC order.

The court turned down the argument and said an unnecessary controversy had been sought to be created by generalising the remark that “a mosque is not essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in the open”.

It said the remark was made in the context of the acquisition of the site where Babri Masjid stood, and to rebut the argument that mosques enjoyed immunity from acquisition of land by the government.

‘5-judge benches heard cases less important, so why not this one?’

Dhananjay Mahapatra, ‘5-judge benches heard cases less important, so why not this one?’, September 28, 2018: The Times of India

Justice S Abdul Nazeer penned a dissent and said if the Supreme Court could refer petitions challenging polygamy and nikah halala, Ramleela and puja in public parks, and female genital mutilation to five-judge benches, the Ayodhya land dispute and Ismail Faruqui case remark should also be referred to a constitution bench.

“It is clear that questionable observations in Ismail Faruqui have certainly permeated the impugned (Allahabad HC) judgment. Thus, the impugned judgment can be claimed to be both expressly and inherently affected by the questionable observations made in Ismail Faruqui,” Justice Nazeer said.

“Further, Ismail Faruqui prima facie leads a different approach regarding the application of essential and/or integral test which also needs to be resolved as a matter of constitutional significance. In my view, Ismail Faruqui needs to be brought in line with the authoritative pronouncements in Shirur Mutt and other decisions,” he said in his order, diametrically opposite to the views of CJI Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan, to refer the Ayodhya land dispute as well as Faruqui remark to a five-judge bench.

He appeared to accept the arguments of senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan and Dushyant Dave that when less important issues were referred to constitution benches, why not give similar credence to the most important issue before the nation.

“A three-judge bench led by CJI Misra on March 26 had referred a petition by Sameena Begum and others challenging matters relating to polygamy, including nikah halala, nikah mutah and nikah misya, to a constitution bench,” Justice Nazeer said. He added that on July 6, a two-judge bench had referred a petition by Jyoti Jagran Mandal to test the validity of permission given to Ramleela and pujas once a year in public parks to a five-judge bench. He also highlighted a threeday-old decision by a threejudge bench led by CJI Misra to refer to a constitution bench a bunch of petitions led by Sunita Tiwari, which sought a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM). Justice Nazeer said, “Considering the constitutional importance of the issues (in the plea relating to Ayodhya and Ismail Faruqui judgment remark), the following need to be referred to larger bench.”

2019: Supreme Court's verdict

August- Oct: The final hearings

Sruthi Radhakrishnan, Ayodhya title dispute: A quick recap of the final hearings, November 9, 2019: The Hindu

A breakdown of how the hearing has proceeded.

As efforts to mediate a final settlement between the Hindu and Muslim parties in the Ayodhya title dispute case fell through, the appeals posted before the Supreme Court came up for hearing on August 6, 2019. The day-to-day hearing ended on October 16.

The parties in the case are — Gopal Singh Visharad, an individual who claims he has the right to worship Lord Ram at Ayodhya; the Nirmohi Akhara, one of the three parties who was offered a portion of the ownership as part of the Allahabad High Court verdict; the Sunni Waqf Board, also offered a portion; and Ram Lalla, the deity, who through a shebait claims full ownership of the place.

Here is a breakdown of how the hearing has proceeded:


A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi began hearing the cross-appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim sides

The Nirmohi Akhara said it was a religious establishment of a public character to which the Ramjanmabhoomi had “always belonged”. It had been managing the Ramjanmabhumi and receiving offerings from worshippers. It submitted that the “Asthan of Janam Bhumi was of ancient antiquity.”


"Whether Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem... Has such a question ever arisen in any court?" Supreme Court judge, Justice S.A. Bobde, asked senior advocate K. Parasaran, the lawyer for Ram Lalla.

Mr. Parasaran submitted that references of disputed land is there in Valmiki Ramayana. He said the usual strict codes of evidence should relaxed in this case as worshippers believe the spirit of Sri Ram resides in the Asthan.

AUGUST 8 Can birthplace be considered a ‘juristic person’, asks Supreme Court.


Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, said he will “not be able to assist” the court if the hearing is “rushed through”.


Chief Justice Gogoi said the Supreme Court is not in a hurry. Lawyers need not feel constrained and can argue to their heart's content.

The top judge said arguing lawyers on both the sides of the religious divide can raise their arguments as and how they like, no matter how long they take.


The Hindu parties involved in the Ayodhya title appeals received a barrage of questions from the Constitution Bench, including whether there is any evidence on record to show that the first Mughal emperor, Babur, ordered the building of the Babri Masjid.

While Justice Bobde asked about when the structure, demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992, began to be called ‘Babri Masjid’, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud reflected on historical texts to point out that Ayodhyaand the disputed area seemed to have been a confluence of several religions, including Buddhism, Jainism and even Islam.


The Supreme Court asked the Hindu parties to present proof of their claim that Babri Masjid was built on the remains of an ancient temple or Hindu religious structure.

"Over the past two millennia we have seen civilisations settle and resettle on river banks. They have built upon pre-existing structures. But prove that the alleged ruins or demolished building (on which Babri Masjid was built) was religious in nature," Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, who is appearing for the deity.


Mr. Vaidyanathan told the Supreme Court that a stone slab, which fell out of the western wall of the disputed Babri Masjid structure, had Sanskrit inscriptions dating back to the 12th century about a Lord Vishnu temple.

Mr. Vaidynathan said the slab and the inscriptions give credence to the version that the Babri mosque was built on the disputed land where a massive structure supported by several pillars once stood. He said it is believed by devotees that Lord Vishnu took human form as Ram.

Mr. Vaidynathan said there are enough artefacts and materials to support the belief of devotees that Ram Janmabhoomi is the birthplace of Lord Ram.


Present evidence on temple claim, Supreme Court tells lawyers.


Gopal Singh Visharad, one of the appellants in the Ayodhyacase, said Hindus have an "unfettered"right to worship at a site believed for centuries to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, for Visharad, claimed there were affidavits from the Muslim side saying a temple was demolished to build the Babri mosque in the 16th century.

Mr. Kumar said the faith of the Hindus survived despite the construction of the mosque in the Ramjanmabhoomi.


The Supreme Court asked Nirmohi Akhara whether it can have rights on the Ramjanmabhoomi at variance with or independent of the rights of Ayodhya's infant deity. The Bench said the Akhara has no independent claim. If the suit of the deity for the land is dismissed, the shebait’s claim also does not survive.

“Claim of the shebait can never be adverse to the deity. But if you are contesting suit five (suit filed by the deity for title), then you are going against the title of the deity. So, as a shebait, you are asking to dismiss the suit of the deity?” Justice Chandrachud asked.


Nirmohi Akhara drops objection to a separate suit for title filed by the Ayodhya deity.


The Constitution Bench was told that the first Mughal Emperor, Babur, may not have built the ‘Babri Masjid’ structure in Ayodhya.

In fact, the court was told by senior advocate P.N. Mishra, who appears for Ram Janmabhumi Punaruddhar Samiti, that Babur may not have even visited Ayodhya.

Mr. Mishra referred to three works —Ain-i-Akbari written by court historian Abu'l Fazl, Humayun Nama and Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri or Memoirs of Jahangir — to argue his claim. He said none of them mention that Babur built the disputed structure.


The installation of Ayodhyaidols inside the Babri Masjid in the intervening night of December 22-23 of 1949, which marked the beginning of heightened tensions and legal battle, “was a surreptitious attack”, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, claimed.

He referred to documents saying how then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had expressed grave concern about the incident.


A worshipper’s unflinching faith in the Ramjanmabhoomi cannot be questioned, it has to be accepted, the Supreme Court addressed Mr. Dhavan.

“What are the features involved to conclude that an idol or even the janmasthan is a juristic person? Cull that out and address us,” Justice Chandrachud told Mr. Dhavan.

The court’s remarks was in response to Mr. Dhavan’s contention that there was hardly any evidence to back the faith of the Hindus in the janmasthan from “time immemorial”.


The Supreme Court asked its Registry by what time it could make a system for live-streaming of Ayodhya appeals operational if the court gives permission.

“The Registry to inform as to if this court orders for livestreaming of the Ayodhyamatter, what time would be taken to make the system operational,” a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi recorded in a short order.

On the same day, mediation committee filed a short memorandum informing the court that parties across the Hindu-Muslim religious divide have approached it with a request to resume talks.

The memorandum said the parties have suggested that the mediation could continue even as the Supreme Court continues to hear the appeals.

The parties have suggested to the mediators — former Supreme Court judge F.M.I Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchi — that talks should resume from the point where it was abruptly dropped off at the last minute on July 29.


Lotus carvings on Kasauti pillars, figurines, Garuda flanked by two lions and a Dwarapal are not typical features of a mosque, the Supreme Court confronted the Muslim side.


Justice Chandrachud said it is probable that Hindu worshippers flocked to Ram Chabutra to set their eyes beyond the railing barricading them and pray to the space under the central dome of Babri mosque, which they believed to be the exact place of birth of Lord Ram.

The court also allowed the Ayodhya mediation committee to resume talks with disputing Hindu and Muslim parties even as it indicated that the ongoing court hearings of the appeals before a Constitution Bench is likely to finish by October 18.


After urging lawyers to finish arguments by October 18, Chief Justice Gogoi took the first step in the sprint to the finish line for the marathon Ayodhya appeals’ hearings by deciding to sit back after regular court hours on September 23.

Though the Bench wrapped up hearing by noon, the CJI informed lawyers that the judges would hear the case till 5 p.m. on the next date of hearing.


The Supreme Court said the faith of the Hindus in the Ramjanmabhoomi has been a constant and it would be hard to rebut their belief.

The discussion also touched on the aspect whether a physical manifestation of the deity is necessary to recognise it as a juristic personality.


The Muslim side in the Ayodhya title dispute case said Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya and accepted that Ram Chabutra is his exact birth spot. Senior advocate Zafaryab Jilani clarified repeatedly to Justice Bobde that Ram Chabutra, in the outer courtyard, was worshipped by the Hindus as Lord Ram's birthplace. Mr. Jilani said his case was specifically that the inside of Babri Masjid was never the birth spot.

“My case is that Hindus never worshipped the space inside the Babri Masjid as the birthplace of Lord Ram. But they worshipped the Ram Chhabutra as the birthplace. The Ram Chhabutra was hardly 50 to 80 feet from the mosque,” Mr. Jilani said.


The Muslim parties argued that the Archaeological Study of India (ASI) report on the excavations at the Babri Masjid site in 2003 is filled with “palpable and inherent” infirmities and inconsistencies.

But the Constitution Bench said it was too late in the day for the Muslim parties to object to the ASI report.

The Bench asked why the Muslims have chosen to question the report in the Supreme Court and not earlier in the Allahabad High Court, which had commissioned the excavations.

The court said the Muslims cannot object in the Supreme Court what they did not object before the Allahabad High Court.


Justice Bobde, said the court cannot be expected to re-construct the history of the Babri Masjid site from ruins, and dropped the penny that the ASI findings may not be “authoritative”.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, for the Sunni Wakf Board, pointed to how the ASI report even inferred there was a circular shrine, believed to be of the sixth century and dedicated to Lord Shiva at the site. “We are inferring so much… conjecturing so much,” she rued about the nature of the court hearings which reached its 32nd consecutive day.

“We cannot reconstruct what happened from the ruins, that is why we want expert opinions,” Justice Bobde reacted.


The Supreme Court asked the Ayodhya deity's lawyer why the Hindus insist the disputed land is divine.

The court questioned why the Hindu parties want the disputed land to be recognised not only as a separate juristic person but also as a divinity.

“Why do you insist on divinity (to Ramjanmabhumi) to establish juristic personality to the land. A ship is a juristic person, but not divine...” Justice Bobde asked Mr. Parasaran.

“Ordinary people need tangible forms of God to concentrate while worshipping unlike those in higher state of devotion,” Mr. Parasaran replied.


Sheer belief that Lord Ram was born exactly under the central dome of Babri Masjid, demolished in 1992 by kar sevaks, does not give the Hindus the title or ownership of the disputed land, Mr. Dhavan submitted before the Bench.

Mr. Dhavan said what was definite was the Hindus were given (prescriptive rights) to enter the mosque premises and pray. The senior lawyer said there was no evidence of any titlethey held over the land.


The Ayodhya mediation committee filed a settlement document in the Supreme Court.

A source said the settlement reached in talks have been filed in the apex court. The filing of the settlement coincides with the last day of court hearing by the Ayodhya Bench.

Details of the settlement are confidential and not known.

What the appeals are about

Krishnadas Rajagopal, What are the Ayodhya appeals all about?, November 9, 2019: The Hindu

What is it?

On September 27, in the Ayodhya title suit appeals, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority opinion, decided against referring the question “whether offering prayers in a mosque is an essential part of Islam” to a seven-judge Constitution Bench. With this, the court has signalled that it will decide the appeals like any other civil suit, based on evidence, and pay little heed to arguments about the “religious significance” of the Ayodhya issue and the communal strife it has caused.

The Bench said the hearing would start from October 29, leading to the question whether the court would deliver a judgment before the May 2019 general election. The appeals are against the September 30, 2010, decision of the Allahabad High Court to divide the disputed 2.77 acre area among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The court had relied on Hindu faith, belief and folklore. It concluded that Lord Ram, son of King Dashrath, was born within the 1,482.5 square yards of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid premises over 9,00,000 years ago during the Treta Yuga. One of the judges added that the “world knows” where Ram’s birthplace is, while another said his finding was an “informed guess” based on “oral evidences of several Hindus and some Muslims” that the precise birthplace of Ram is under the central dome.

How did it come about?

The final hearings began before a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra (now retired) and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer on December 5 last year. The day also happened to be the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 15th century Masjid by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992. However, the Muslim appellants pointed to certain paragraphs in a 1994 five-judge Constitution Bench judgment in the Dr. Ismail Faruqui case. One of these paragraphs stated that “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz [prayer] by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open.”

“So is the mosque not an essential part of Islam? Muslims cannot go to the garden and pray,” their lawyer and senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan told the court. He asked the Bench to freeze the hearing till this question is decided by a seven-judge Bench.

In their majority view, Chief Justice Misra and Justice Bhushan refused to send the question to a seven-judge Bench. Their opinion said the observations were made in the context of the Faruqui case, which was about public acquisition of places of religious worship. It should not be dragged into the Ayodhya appeals. The minority decision authored by Justice Nazeer dissented with the majority on the Bench, and said this observation about offering prayer in a mosque had influenced the Allahabad High Court. He questioned the haste of the court.

Why does it matter?

The answer to this question is found in the maiden Supreme Court hearing of the appeals last year. Those present distinctly remember senior advocate Kapil Sibal suggest that the Bench post the hearings after July 15, 2019. Along with Mr. Sibal, senior advocate Dushyant Dave and Mr. Dhavan argued that the dispute is not just another civil suit. The case covers religion and faith and dates back to the era of King Vikramaditya. It is probably the most important case in the history of India, which would “decide the future of the polity.”

Mr. Sibal said the government was using the judiciary to realise its agenda for a Ram temple, a promise in the ruling BJP’s 2014 election manifesto.

What next?

All eyes are on the new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Justice Misra was also the lead judge on the Ayodhya Bench. Chief Justice Gogoi may lead the Ayodhya Bench himself or appoint another judge. With the Lok Sabha election nearing, a request to adjourn the case until after the poll may also be made.

The Highlights of the 9 Nov verdict

Supreme Court's verdict on Ayodhya land dispute: 10 Key takeaways - The Times of India | Nov 9, 2019

November 9, 2019: The Hindu

SC orders Centre to formulate a scheme in 3 months to set up a board of trustees for construction of a temple at the disputed structure.

SC orders alternative land measuring 5 acres to set up a mosque, land to be allotted to Sunni Waqf Board.

Supreme Court's verdict on Ayodhya land dispute: The Key takeaways

NEW DELHI: The five-judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court pronounced a unanimous judgment in the seven-decade-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. Here are the key takeaways from the apex court judgment-

1. A trust to be set up: The SC has ordered the Centre to set up a trust to build a temple, while alloting alternative five acres of land for constructing a mosque.

2. The apex court has ordered the Centre to formulate a scheme in three months to set up a board of trustees for construction of a temple at the disputed structure. The land must be handed over to the trust. Till the Trust is formed, the ownership of the site will rest with the Centre.

3. The SC has alotted the entire 2.77-acre disputed land for temple construction.

4. The court has also ordered that suitable alternative land, measuring five acres, will be alloted for setting up mosque. The land will be given to the Sunni Waqf Board.

5. The SC ruled that the Allahabad high court judgement on the case in 2010 was wrong in dividing the disputed site into three parts.

6. The SC ruled that the Nirmohi Akhara suit was not maintainable and it has no shebait rights (priestly rights). However, the court directed that in the Board of Trustees that will be set up, the Nirmohi Akhara should be given appropriate representation.

7. The claim of Shia Waqf Board against Sunni Board to Babri Masjid was dismissed.

8. The SC's directive to set up a Trust to construct the Ram temple at the disputed site virtually ousts the VHP-backed Ram Janmsthan Nyas from temple construction activities.

9. The SC said that archaeological evidence cannot be brushed aside as conjecture and hypothesis. Archaeological evidence supports that the Babri Masjid was not constructed on vacant land but on a Hindu structure. However, Aracheolgical Survey of India findings did not say whether a Hindu temple was demolished to construct a mosque.

10. The court also said that the destruction of the mosque in 1992 happened in breach of SC orders. The desecration of the mosque by placing idols in 1949 and its demolition was contrary to the law, it added.

‘Mosque wasn’t abandoned’

The court upheld the belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site in Ayodhya. It also upheld that the mosque was neither abandoned nor seceded by the Muslims.

“Iron railing was set up at site in 1856-1857, it suggests Hindus kept worshipping at the site. Evidence suggest Hindus were in possession of outer court yard.”

ASI had not established whether temple was demolished

“The fact that there lied a structure beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the ASI. ASI had not established whether temple was demolished to build the mosque.”

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

Places of Worship Act

The Supreme Court refers to Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, which prohibits conversion of any place of worship, to say that all religions are equal.

At the heart of the Constitution is the commitment to equality. Constitution does not distinguish between one faith and another, says the CJI.

SLP by Shia Board against 1946 Faizabad Court order dismissed

SC dismisses Single Leave Petition by Shia Waqf Board challenging 1946 Faizabad Court order

ANI | Nov 9, 2019


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday dismissed the Single Leave Petition (SLP) filed by Shia Waqf Board challenging the order of 1946 Faizabad Court.

"We have dismissed the Single Leave Petition filed by Shia Waqf Board challenging the order of 1946 Faizabad Court," Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said.

While reading out the verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case, the Chief Justice said, "Babri mosque was built by Mir Baqi. It is inappropriate for the Court to get into area of theology."

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court is pronouncing its historic verdict on a batch of a petition against the 2010 Allahabad High Court order in the sensitive Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

The top court had reserved its verdict on the matter on October 15 after hearing the case on a day-to-day basis for 40 days. Ayodhya dispute case: Judgment is unanimous, says CJI Ranjan Gogoi ANI | Nov 9, 2019, 11.04 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Saturday said that the verdict on the Ayodhya land title dispute case is "unanimous" and that it will preserve balance. "This court must accept faith and belief of worshippers. The court should preserve balance. I will take about half an hour to read it," Chief Justice Gogoi said during the course of proceedings today.

A five-judge constitution bench presided by Chief Justice Gogoi and comprising will shortly pronounce the verdict on a batch of petitions against an order of the Allahabad High Court which trifurcated the site between the parties -- Ramlalla Virajman, Sunni Central Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.

A decade-long legal dispute was fought between right-wing party Hindu Mahasabha, a sect of Hindu monks Nirmohi Akhara and Muslim Waqf Board over 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya.

The Hon. SC’s Conclusion on title

796. In the present case, this Court is tasked with an adjudicatory task of unique dimension. The dispute is over immovable property. The court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence. The law provides us with parameters as clear but as profound as ownership and possession. In deciding title to the disputed property, the court applies settled principles of evidence to adjudicate upon which party has established a claim to the immovable property.

797. On the balance of probabilities, there is clear evidence to indicate that the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard continued unimpeded in spite of the setting up of a grill-brick wall in 1857. Their possession of the outer courtyard stands established together with the incidents attaching to their control over it.

798. As regards the inner courtyard, there is evidence on a preponderance of probabilities to establish worship by the Hindus prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British in 1857. The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure prior to 1857 since the date of the construction in the sixteenth century. After the setting up of the grill-brick wall, the structure of the mosque continued to exist and there is evidence to indicate that namaz was offered within its precincts. The report of the Waqf Inspector of December 1949 indicates that Muslims were being obstructed in free and unimpeded access to mosque for the purposes of offering namaz. However, there is evidence to show that namaz was offered in the structure of the mosque and the last Friday namaz was on 16 December 1949. The exclusion of the Muslims from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols. The ouster of the Muslims on that occasion was not through any lawful authority but through an act which was calculated to deprive them of their place of worship. After the proceedings under Section 145 of CrPC 1898 were initiated and a receiver was appointed following the attachment of the inner courtyard, worship of the Hindu idols was permitted. During the pendency of the suits, the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship. The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago.

799. We have already concluded that the three-way bifurcation by the High Court was legally unsustainable. Even as a matter of maintaining public peace and tranquillity, the solution which commended itself to the High Court is not feasible. The disputed site admeasures all of 1500 square yards. Dividing the land will not subserve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquillity.

800. Suit 5 has been held to be maintainable at the behest of the first plaintiff (the deity of Lord Ram) who is a juristic person. The third plaintiff (next friend) has been held to be entitled to represent the the first plaintiff. We are of the view that on the one hand a decree must ensue in Suit 5, Suit 4 must also be partly decreed by directing the allotment of alternate land to the Muslims for the construction of a mosque and associated activities. The allotment of land to the Muslims is necessary because though on a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims, the Muslims were dispossessed upon the desecration of the mosque on 22/23 December 1949 which was ultimately destroyed on 6 December 1992. There was no abandonment of the mosque by the Muslims. This Court in the exercise of its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied. Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law. The Constitution postulates the equality of all faiths. Tolerance and mutual co-existnce nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people.

801. The area of the composite site admeasures about 1500 square yards. While determining the area of land to be allotted, it is necessary to provide restitution to the Muslim community for the unlawful destruction of their place of worship. Having weighed the nature of the relief which should be granted to the Muslims, we direct that land admeasuring 5 acres be allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board either by the Central Government out of the acquired land or by the Government of Uttar Pradesh within the city of Ayodhya. This exercise, and the consequent handing over of the land to the Sunni Central Waqf Board, shall be conducted simultaneously with the handing over of the disputed site comprising of the inner and outer courtyards as a consequence of the decree in Suit 5. Suit 4 shall stand decreed in the above terms.

802. Section 6 of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993 empowers the Central Government to direct that the right, title and interest in relation to the area or any part thereof, instead of continuing to vest in the Central Government shall vest in the authority or body or trustees of any trust which is willing to comply with the terms and conditions as government may impose.407 Section 7(1) provides that the property vested in the Central Government under Section 3, shall be maintained by the government or by any person or trustees of any trust, authorities in this behalf.

803. We are of the view that it would be necessary to direct the Central Government to frame a scheme in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by Sections 6 and 7 to set up a trust or any other appropriate mechanism to whom the land would be handed over in terms of the decree in Suit 5. The scheme shall incorporate all provisions necessary to vest power and authority in relation to the management of the trust or the body chosen for the vesting of the land.

407 6. Power of Central Government to direct vesting of the area in another authority or body or trust.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 7, the Central Government may, if it is satisfied that any authority or other body, or trustees of any trust, set up on or after the commencement of this Act is or are willing to comply with such terms and conditions as that Government may think fit to impose, direct by notification in the Official Gazette, that the right, title and interest or any of them in reason to the area or any part thereof, instead of continuing to vest in the Central Government, vest in that authority or body or trustees of that trust either on the date of the notification or on such later date as may be specified in the notification.

(2) When any right, title and interest in relation to the area or part thereof vest in the authority or body or trustees referred to in sub-section (1), such rights of the Central Government in relation to such area or part thereof, shall, on and from the date of such vesting, be deemed to have become the rights of that authority or body or trustees of that trust.

(3) The provision of Sections 4, 5, 7 and 11 shall, so far as may be, apply in relation to such authority or body or trustees as they apply in relation to the Central Government and for this purpose references therein to the Central Government shall be construed as references to such authority or body or trustees.

408 7. Management of property by Government.— (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any contract or instrument or order of any court, tribunal or other authority to the contrary, on and from the commencement of this Act, the property vested in the Central Government under Section 3 shall be managed by the Central Government or by a person or body of persons or trustees of any trust authorised by that Government in this behalf.

(2) In managing the property vested in the Central Government under Section 3, the Central Government or the authorised person shall ensure that the position existing before the commencement of this Act in the area on which the structure (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards of such structure), commonly known as the Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid stood in village Kot Ramchandra in Ayodhya, in Pargana Haveli Avadh, in tehsil Faizabad Sadar, in the district of Faizabad of the State of Uttar Pradesh is maintained.

804. Suit 3 filed by Nirmohi Akhara has been held to be barred by limitation. We have also rejected the objection of Nirmohi Akhara and of the Sunni Central Waqf Board to the maintainability of Suit 5 which was based on their plea that Nirmohi Akhara is a shebait. Nirmohi Akhara‘s claim to be a shebait stands rejected. However, having regard to the historical presence of Nirmohi Akhara at the disputed site and their role, it is necessary for this Court to take recourse to its powers under Article 142 to do complete justice. Hence, we direct that in framing the scheme, an appropriate role in the management would be assigned to the Nirmohi Akhara.

The Hon. SC’s Reliefs and directions

805. We accordingly order and direct as follows:

1 (i) Suit 3 instituted by Nirmohi Akhara is held to be barred by limitation and shall accordingly stand dismissed;

(ii) Suit 4 instituted by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and other plaintiffs is held to be within limitation. The judgment of the High Court holding Suit 4 to be barred by limitation is reversed; and

(iii) Suit 5 is held to be within limitation. 2 Suit 5 is held to be maintainable at the behest of the first plaintiff who is represented by the third plaintiff. There shall be a decree in terms of prayer clauses (A) and (B) of the suit, subject to the following directions:

(i) The Central Government shall, within a period of three months from the date of this judgment, formulate a scheme pursuant to the powers vested in it under Sections 6 and 7 of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993. The scheme shall envisage the setting up of a trust with a Board of Trustees or any other appropriate body under Section 6. The scheme to be framed by the Central Government shall make necessary provisions in regard to the functioning of the trust or body including on matters relating to the management of the trust, the powers of the trustees including the construction of a temple and all necessary, incidental and supplemental matters;

(ii) Possession of the inner and outer courtyards shall be handed over to the Board of Trustees of the Trust or to the body so constituted. The Central Government will be at liberty to make suitable provisions in respect of the rest of the acquired land by handing it over to the Trust or body for management and development in terms of the scheme framed in accordance with the above directions; and

(iii) Possession of the disputed property shall continue to vest in the statutory receiver under the Central Government, untill in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 6 of the Ayodhya Act of 1993, a notification is issued vesting the property in the trust or other body.

3 (i) Simultaneously, with the handing over of the disputed property to the Trust or body under clause 2 above, a suitable plot of land admeasuring 5 acres shall be handed over to the Sunni Central Waqf Board, the plaintiff in Suit 4.

(ii) The land shall be allotted either by:

(a) The Central Government out of the land acquired under the Ayodhya Act 1993; or

(b) The State Government at a suitable prominent place in Ayodhya; The Central Government and the State Government shall act in consultation with each other to effectuate the above allotment in the period stipulated.

(iii) The Sunni Central Waqf Board would be at liberty, on the allotment of the land to take all necessary steps for the construction of a mosque on the land so allotted together with other associated facilities;

(iv) Suit 4 shall stand decreed to this extent in terms of the above directions; and (v) The directions for the allotment of land to the Sunni Central Waqf Board in Suit 4 are issued in pursuance of the powers vested in this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution.

4 In exercise of the powers vested in this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution, we direct that in the scheme to be framed by the Central Government, appropriate representation may be given in the Trust or body, to the Nirmohi Akhara in such manner as the Central Government deems fit.

5 The right of the plaintiff in Suit 1 to worship at the disputed property is affirmed subject to any restrictions imposed by the relevant authorities with respect to the maintenance of peace and order and the performance of orderly worship.

SC observation akin to Liberhan finding on ‘calculated’ demolition

Ayodhya verdict: SC observation akin to Liberhan Commission finding on ‘calculated’ demolition, November 9, 2019: The Hindu

Justice Liberhan submitted the report in June 2009, during the tenure of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister.

The Supreme Court, which kept itself away during the Ayodhya land dispute case hearings from going into the issue of demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992, made a passing remark in its judgement about the event saying it was brought down in a “calculated act.”

The apex court noted that during the pendency of the lawsuits on the disputed land, “the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship“.

“The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago,” a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi noted in its judgement.

Though there are few lines in the judgement on the demolition, the observation was reminiscent of the commission of inquiry set up by the then P.V. Narasimha Rao government within 10 days of the demolition, which also had gave the finding that entire demolition was carried out in an “orchestrated” manner.

The then Congress government had set up a one-man inquiry commission headed by Justice M S Liberhan, who was then the sitting judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

However, Justice Liberhan gave full time to the commission only after his retirement as judge and submitted the report after 17 years during which its term was extended 48 times.

He submitted the report in June 2009, during the tenure of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister.

After examining the deposition of top leadership of the time including former prime ministers P V Narasimha Rao and V P Singh, BJP patriarch L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and other leading lights of the Mandir movement, the Liberhan Commission in its report held the then top leadership of BJP and Sangh Parivar (R S S, VHP and Bajrang Dal) culpable for the incident of December 6, 1992.

Kalyan Singh as the Chief Minister had given an undertaking to the apex court that no damage would be allowed to be inflicted to the disputed structure by the kar sevaks.

The Commission concluded that the factual matrix of the case yields “indisputable evidence that lured by the prospect of power or wealth, a rank of leaders emerged within the BJP, R S S, VHP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal etc. who were neither guided by any ideology nor imbued with any dogma nor restrained by any moral trepidation”.

In his report, Justice Liberhan said the senior police officers were at hand to ensure that their men toed the line and that the demolition of the disputed structure was allowed to go ahead with “military precision as orchestrated by the leaders present at the spot and carried out by their henchmen.”

“To sum up, December 6, 1992 saw a state of Uttar Pradesh unwilling and unable to uphold the majesty of the law. The ennui flowed from the very office of the Chief Minister (Kalyan Singh) downwards and infected the state’s minions down till the bottom.

“The state had become a willing ally and co-conspirator in the joint common enterprise to announce the revival of a rabid breed of Hindutva, by demolishing the structure they had denounced as a symbol of Islam,” the commission said.

Negotiation bids

1994, 2003

Dhananjay Mahapatra, How negotiation bids failed in Ayodhya case, February 27, 2019: The Times of India

Despite many an attempt for negotiated settlement on the 2.77 acre land at Ram janambhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site going awry in the last 25 years, the SC on Tuesday decided for the first time to invoke powers under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code and employ courtappointed mediation process to solve the vexed issue.

Section 89 provides: “Where it appears to the court that there exist elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, the court shall formulate the terms of settlement and give them to the parties for their observations and after receiving the observations of the parties, the court may reformulate the terms of a possible settlement and refer the same for arbitration, conciliation, judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat, or mediation.”

After demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, the Centre had acquired the disputed land as well as 67 acres surrounding it through a law. When its validity was challenged in the SC, the Centre had sent a Presidential Reference asking the SC to determine whether a Hindu temple pre-existed the demolished mosque. The P V Narasimha Rao government had told the SC on September 14, 1994 that once the SC answered the Reference, it would make efforts to resolve the controversy through negotiations.

In Ismail Faruqui judgement on October 24, 1994, the SC upheld validity of acquisition of Ayodhya land but had said: “This is a matter suited essentially to resolution by negotiations which does not end in a winner or loser, while adjudication leads to that end. It is in the national interest that there is no loser at the end of the process adopted for resolution so that the final outcome does not leave behind any rancour in anyone. This can be achieved by a negotiated solution on the basis of which a decree can be obtained in terms of such solution in these suits. Unless a solution is found which leaves everyone happy, that cannot be beginning for continued harmony between ‘we the people of India’.”

There were some negotiations, as the judgement records, between VHP and All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, which broke down at a crucial phase. A significant effort for a negotiated settlement was made by Kanchi Shankaracharya in 2003. But it broke down after his July 1, 2003 letter to All India Muslim Personal Law Board stating: “Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya - all three belong to Hindus and keeping in mind the larger interest of the country and communal harmony, if not today, but at some time or other, these places have to be given to the Hindus. The Muslims have to mentally prepare themselves for this.”

A significant effort for a negotiated settlement was made by Kanchi Shankaracharya in 2003. But it broke down after his letter to All India Muslim Personal Law Board

1994, 2003, 2017

Attempts at mediation on Ayodhya dispute, 1994, 2003, 2017
From: March 9, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

Attempts at mediation on Ayodhya dispute, 1994, 2003, 2017

2019: first mediation with court sanction

Subhash Mishra, Yusra Husain, March 9, 2019: The Times of India

Supreme Court’s verdict on setting up a three-member panel for mediation to resolve the contentious Ayodhya dispute, takes the clock 30 years back, when a similar exercise was initiated for the first time, but made no headway. Eight prime ministers in the past tried this route, but failed.

The only difference in drawing an outcome through mutual dialogue is that in 1990, it was inspired by the Central government and this time it has been led by Supreme Court.

A formal process of negotiation was first taken up in 1986 between then Kanchi Shankaracharya and then president of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadwi, popularly known as Ali Miyan.

“Ali Miyan spoke to the Shankaracharya, who was ready to become a receiver in the dispute and initiate talks while the court case continued. A proposal was to be made and board members were ready for talks, but the Shankaracharya backed out and apologised for not taking up the role, citing pressure from various corners,” said convener of the Babri Masjid Action Committee ( BMAC), Zafaryab Jilani. “This mediation ordered by SC, will be the first with legal sanctity,” said Jilani.

In 1990, then prime minister VP Singh initiated the first out-of-court settlement through some officers, but before he could formalise the process he was dislodged and Chandra Shekhar succeeded him as PM.

In 1991, Chandra Shekhar kickstarted the out-of-court settlement process by deputing controversial godman Chandraswami, who held a series of meetings with both parties. Then minister of state for home Subodh Kant Sahay constituted a high-power committee comprising three chief ministers — Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Pawar and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat — for the purpose. But before he could make any impact, Parliament was dissolved and fresh elections held.

In 1992, PV Narasimha Rao resumed the dialogue process. And again Chandraswami was the interlocutor. But by the time talks could mature, VHP made an appeal for kar sewa leading to the demolition of Babri Masjid, halting the out-of-court process for a long period and both parties hardened their stands further.

In 2000-02, Atal Bihari Vajpayee resumed the discussions between the two parties by formally opening an Ayodhya cell in the PMO and chaired a series of meetings between VHP and the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board. Kunal Kishore, a senior IPS officer, played the anchor role in the mediation process, but the process again proved an exercise in futility.

The AIMPLB was again approached by the new Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham in 2002-2003, who came to Lucknow’s Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama with a slew of proposals. Few points of the proposal were rejected by AIMPLB. While no overt moves were made during the Manmohan Singh regime, Justice (retired) Pulak Basu of the Allahabad High Court led a signature campaign in 2010, drawing a conclusion that the mediation process should be left to local people of Ayodhya.

1994-2019: Four failed mediation attempts

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Ayodhya mediation fails, SC to fix daily hearing schedule, August 2, 2019: The Times of India

Any glimmer of hope for a negotiated settlement to the long-pending dispute over the ownership of the 2.77-acre Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land in Ayodhya faded with the Supreme Court-appointed highlevel mediation panel expressing its inability to resolve the issue.

A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazir will take up the matter on Friday and could fix a schedule for commencement of day-to-day hearing on a bunch of appeals challenging the Allahabad high court’s September 30, 2010 verdict which divided the disputed land into three equal parts — one part each to Ram Lalla (idol), Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board.

The mediation panel, comprising former SC judge FMI Kalifulla, well-known mediator and senior advocate Sriram Panchu and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar, which was given a fortnight on July 18 by the SC to make a last-ditch attempt for a negotiated settlement, conveyed that they had failed to strike a consensus among rival parties and it was time to wind up the mediation process.

During the 155-day-long negotiation process held in Faizabad since March 8, the panel held numerous meetings with various people and parties connected to the dispute despite steadfast opposition from Hindu parties, who have filed appeals in the SC. The Muslim parties had said in the SC that they supported a negotiated settlement.

The panel, sources said, detailed its earnest efforts to bring the rival parties together and its success in getting moderates on both sides to agree to sit across the table to negotiate a solution. However, the panel said it failed to convince the hardliners on both sides to do the same.

Four mediation attempts have failed since 1994

On July 18, the five-judge bench led by CJI Gogoi had asked the panel to submit a status report on the negotiation process and indicated that, if required, it would pass orders for the schedule for commencement of hearing on the appeals pending in the SC for the last nine years.

The panel had on July 18 conveyed to the SC that it hoped to bring extreme elements on both sides to the negotiating table.

The Allahabad HC had decided the title suits and divided the core disputed land into three equal parts. All three awardees and others challenged the HC verdict, saying it was not the prayer of any of the parties for a three-way division of the disputed land.

Ever since the SC said in the Ismail Faruqui judgment on October 24, 1994 that the Ayodhya land dispute “is a matter suited essentially to resolution by negotiations which does not end in a winner or loser”, there have been four failed attempts in this direction.

Ownership of the land, undisputed and disputed

How VHP got to own 43 acres

VHP’s 43 acres of undisputed land in Ayodhya
From: January 31, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

VHP’s 43 acres of undisputed land in Ayodhya

Nirmohi Akhara’s stand: 1993-2019 April

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Nirmohi opposes govt plea on Ayodhya land, April 10, 2019: The Times of India

Nirmohi Akhara, which along with Ram Lalla and Sunni Wakf Board was given one-third of the 2.77-acre core disputed land in Ayodhya by the Allahabad high court, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday opposing the Centre’s surprise move for return of the surplus 67 acres to its original owners.

On January 28, the Centre had filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking return of 67 acres of surplus land, except the 2.77-acre disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land to its original owners, including Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, which owns 42 acres.

Akhara diverged from other Hindu claimants earlier also

The land in question was acquired by the Union government through the ‘Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Ordinance’ on January 7, 1993, in the wake of the demolition of Babri Masjid in what was seen as an attempt to preempt any construction by the Nyas in the immediate vicinity of the disputed site. The ordinance was later replaced by an Act bearing the same nomenclature.

Opposing the Centre’s application, Nirmohi Akhara said it was the owner of Sumitra Bhawan and the adjacent land, Sita Koop, Sita Koop Mandir, Dwaraka Das Mandir, Saligram Bhagwan temple and Lomas temple, all of which were demolished by the state government after acquisition of the surplus 67 acres in 1993. It said which party is entitled to what part of the disputed area would be known only when the title suit was decided. Proper utilisation of the surplus land for amenities like approach road and pilgrim facilities could be worked out only once that stage was crossed, it added. “At present, it is not known who will be the ultimate successful party and, therefore, it cannot at present be assessed what the extent of superfluous area will be,” it said. It is not the first time that Nirmohi Akhara has diverged from the stand of other Hindu claimants to the disputed site.

During hearing of the appeals against the Allahabad HC judgment dividing the core disputed land into three equal parts, the SC had suggested mediation as an alternative mechanism to resolve the 70-year-old litigation.

See also


Ayodhya (Babri Masjid/ Ram Janambhoomi)

Ayodhyawasi Bania

Ayodhyawasi Jain

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