Written by Tanvi Gupta of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Edited by Noor Dewan.
Babri Masjid dispute also known as “Ayodhya dispute” was a result of religious and political conflicts. It was an ownership dispute between Hindus and Muslims over 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Hindu Mythology marks Ayodhya as a birthplace of Lord Rama. Muslims entitle Ayodhya as their land to construct Mosque and furthermore claims that it was built in 1528 on the orders of their first Mughal Emperor ‘Babur’. This town was developed by Nawab Safdar Jang and his son in 1750s However, in the year 1853 Hindu community states that this mosque was built after demolition of Ram Mandir.
Reviewing the chronology of the events from first conflict to end dispute it is noticeable that first suit was brought back during British rule in 1885. This case was filed by Mahanth Raghubar Das against Secretary of State for India in council with aim to construct temple for Hindu deity Shri Ram in Ayodhya. The critical turn of events occurred in the year 1949 when the idols of Lord Ram were found inside the Babri Mosque. Considering the gravity of event, the court ordered to seize the mosque. In the following years, various cases were filed by the Hindu and Muslim community. After 37 years, it was a relief for Hindus as Faizabad District court ordered to open the gates of Babri masjid for worship of idols. However, this was a short- lived happiness as the gates were closed within an hour after formation of Babri Masjid Action committee. BJP leader L.K. Advani led a ‘rath yatra’ across several states leaving a trail of communal violence year 1992 was marked as year of communal riots as more than 2000 lives were gone for this dispute. Seeing the condition Home Ministry formed a Librahan Commission with and aim to investigate on destruction on disputed land. Until September, 2010 the case came across Lucknow Bench and special Bench in Allahabad High Court. Before concluding to end result an order was passed to Archaeological survey of India to find if there were any idols beneath the mosque. The Three key parties to the suit were Nirmohi Akhara who has been manager of Devasthan, UP Sunni Central Wakif Board and deity Ram Lalla which came into the litigation in 1989 through next best friend Deoki Nandan Agarwal, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court who later joined Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The High Court in the ratio of 2:1 gave a judgement to divide disputed land between three parties equally. All the parties unsatisfied by the given decision appealed before Supreme Court of India. During the course when the case was pending before SC various political events occurred inducing communal tensions.
While the case was presented before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India the representator of Muslim Community contended that mosque should be built at same location and court should implement Places of Worship Act, 1991 which restricts existence of all worship places same as they were before independence.
The court overruled the judgement given by Allahabad Court stating it irrational. However, in 2017 considering the threads of events which might further lead to communal riots Supreme Court appealed to all parties to find an amicable solution and settle dispute outside the court.
Recently after hearing a legal battle for more than 70 years court gave its historical judgement keeping in mind various investigation and interest of the parties. So that evidence along with accounts of travellers and documents in gazettes of that time provide a combination of evidence which are in favour of the Hindus. A five-judge bench gave a verdict to build temple on disputes Babri Masjid- Ram Janmabhoomi land. The Sunni Board will be given separate five acres of “prominent” land in Ayodhya to construct mosque. The court noticed the incapability of UP Sunni Central Wakif Board to establish sole ownership of disputed land. Also stated that underlying structure was not an Islamic structure and mosque was not built on vacant land. Furthermore, the Supreme Court stated that construction of Ram Mandir will be done under supervision of Central Government until a trust is formed for this purpose.
Shebait was demanded by Nirmohi Akhara meaning perpetual rights to worship at particular site. However, it was dismissed by court but Akhara shall be a part of Management or trust. While giving the Judgement court invoked Article 142 of Indian Constitution twice for the purpose of complete justice. Once while 5 acres of land was given to rectify the mistake and secondly to make Nirmohi Akhara as a member of trust.
The dispute over this piece of land has time and again defined and then redefined state politics outfits and influenced the mind-sets of people throughout the country. The Supreme Court by giving its verdict has tried to socially harmonize both the sects by building temple on given land and providing land to Sunni Board. Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted that “There is no place for fear, bitterness and negativity in New India” Furthermore, Muslims sect has affirmed that they will accept the judgement for communal peace. The five judges bench best summed up their own endeavour with the succeeding words: “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 coexistence nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people.”
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