Pronouncement of Judgment

This morning, at 10.30 AM, the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to form a trust within three months for the construction of a Hindu temple at the disputed site. It has also directed the State to award the U.P. Sunni Waqf Board a 5 acre plot of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya.

 

As such, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Bobde, Justice Chandrachud, Justice Bhushan and Justice Nazeer has overturned the Allahabad High Court's 2010 judgment. The High Court had equally divided the disputed title among the Nirmohi Akhara, U.P. Sunni Waqf Board and Shri Ram Virajman. 

 

Background:

 

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  • Unanimous judgment
  • Bench observes that it is inappropriate for it to go into theological questions and that the law must be above everything else: 'A constitutional regime which accepts equality of all religions should be upheld'
  • Justice Sharma's opinion in the Allahabad High Court judgment held erroneous
  • Bench holds that the Ram Janmabhoomi is not a juristic personality, as was claimed in suit 5 
  • Limitation: suit 3 (Nirmohi Akhara) barred by limitation, suit 4 (Sunni Waqf Board) within limitation, suit 5 (Shri Ram Virajman) within limitation
  • Bench observes that the ASI is an expert body. Pre-existing structure beneath Babri Masjid. Nevertheless, holds that the determination of the title cannot be based on archaeological findings.
  • Bench says there is no evidence on record to show what happened between 12th and 16th century. It states that the title issue must be decided on legal principles.
  • On continuous possession:
    • No abandonment of namaz in inner courtyard. Since 1857, Muslims have had possession of inner courtyard
    • Hindus have had uninterrupted possession of the outer courtyard
    • Dispute only over inner courtyard. Must be decided on preponderance of probabilities.
    • Even after the construction of the railings in 1857 (dividing inner and outer courtyard), there is a consistent pattern of Hindu worship, whereby Hindus have worshipped towards the garbha griha (inner courtyard)
  • Reliefs:
    • Suitable 5 acre plot to be handed to Sunni Waqf Board elsewhere in Ayodhya. Bench observes that Muslims should not be deprived of their right to worship.
    • Inner and outer courtyard awarded to deity
    • State to ensure that Nirmohi Akhara has adequate representation in a new Nyas (trust), formed by the Union, which will manage the new Sri Ram temple at the site