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Thu, 02 Apr 2020

Northeast Today

The Ayodhya Verdict

The Ayodhya Verdict
January 17
11:17 2020

Kishor Kumar Kalita

 

On 9th of November, the Supreme Court of India finally delivered a judgement in the Ram Janambhumi-Babri Masjid dispute, which is considered to be one of the most controversial and enduring issue in the legal history of India. The Apex court ordered the disputed land (2.77 acres) to be handed over to a trust (to be created by Government Of India) to build the Ram Janmabhoomi (revered as the birthplace of Hindu deity, Ram) temple. The court also ordered the government to give an alternate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Board for the purpose of building a mosque.
The history of the legal battle between different parties over the disputed land goes back to the year 1950, when Gopal Singh Visharad filed a title suit with the Allahabad High Court seeking injunction to offer puja (worship) at the disputed site. Following this title suit, a similar suit had been filed by one Paramhans Das of Ayodhya which was later withdrawn. In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious institution, who claimed itself as the custodian of the disputed area filed a third title suit seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site. A fourth suit was filed by the Sunni Waqf Board for declaration and possession of the site. The Allahabad High Court bench began hearing the case in 2002, which was completed in 2010. On 30th September 2010, the High Court of Allahabad, the three-member bench comprising justices S. U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D. V. Sharma, ruled that the disputed land to be split into three parts. The site of the Ram Lalla idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed Infant Rama deity); Nirmohi Akhara was to receive Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Waqf Board to receive the rest. The court also ruled that the status quo should be maintained for three months. All the three parties appealed against the division of disputed land to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held final hearing on the case from 6th August, 2019 to 16th October, 2019. While delivering the final judgement on 9th of November this year, the Supreme Court observed serious flaw in the entire approach of the Allahabad High Court in granting relief of a three-way bifurcation of the disputed site. It has observed-“Having come to the conclusion that Suit 3 (filed by Nirmohi Akhara) and Suit 4 (filed by Sunni Central Waqf Board) were barred by limitation, the High Court proceeded to grant relief in Suit 5 to the plaintiffs in Suits 3 and 4. This defies logic and is contrary to settled principles of law. Moreover, the claim by the Nirmohi Akhara was as a shebait who claimed a decree for management and charge. On its own case, Nirmohi Akhara could not have been granted an independent share of the land. By this judgment, the finding of the High Court that the suit of Nirmohi Akhara was barred by limitation has been upheld but the finding in regard to the bar of limitation being attracted to Suit 4 has been reversed.”
In paragraph 799 of the final judgement, the apex court has observed that the three-way bifurcation by the High Court was legally unsustainable. It has further said that even as a matter of maintaining public peace and tranquillity, the solution offered by 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. Analysing the entire arguments that has been lasted around for three months, a five-judge bench, comprising outgoing chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer has delivered the final judgement ,the main content of which are as follows-
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) Simultaneously, with the handing over of the disputed property to the Trust or body, a suitable plot of land admeasuring 5 acres shall be handed over to the Sunni Central Waqf Board. The land shall be allotted either by the Central Government out of the land acquired under the Ayodhya Act 1993; or by 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. 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.
Though the above mentioned judgement has invoked a mix kind of reaction, but irrespective of religion, most of the Indian common masses have accepted this judgement whole heartedly, as the judgement intended to culminate an enduring conflict and tension between two religious communities of this country. Moreover many have seen it an amicable settlement of an immovable property where the apex court has used certain principles of civil law by negating the religious fundamental spirit of this country who have repeatedly attempted to convert this diversified state to a monocultural one. Amidst lots of controversy and debate, we may hope that this judgement will pave a way to develop a new kind of socio-cultural harmony and would end the decadal religious revulsion that has been hindering India to go ahead.

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