New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya – claimed both by Hindus and Muslims for nearly a century — concluding India’s longest-running historical, political, legal and socio-religious debate.
The top court also directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for a mosque.
In one of the most important and anticipated judgements in India’s history, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the century-old dispute that had torn the social fabric of the nation.
The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a ‘prominent site’ and a trust should be formed within three months to construct a temple at the site Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.
The disputed site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights would be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who was one of the three litigants in the case.
The possession, however, will remain with a central government receiver. The apex court asked the Centre to set up a trust for construction of the temple.
The Supreme Court observed that Hindus had established their case that they were in possession of the outer courtyard but the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board failed to establish its case in the Ayodhya dispute.
The apex court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping in the outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there, and evidence suggests Muslims offered Friday prayers at the mosque which indicated they had not lost possession of the site.
It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at the mosque, evidence suggests that offering prayers was not abandoned.
The apex court further said the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the Archaeological Survey of India had not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.
It said terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India.
The court also said that Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place. The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed, the apex court said.
The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are testimony to the religious nature of the place.
The apex court, however, said title could not be established on the grounds of faith and belief and they were only indicators for deciding the dispute.