26 yrs, 314 days, SC concludes hearing, reserves order

Since Babri Masjid was demolished in early nineties and finally with the wrapping up of the hearing in Supreme Court… Now finally, there’s hope of a Solution.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday concluded hearing in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya and reserved the judgement.

The bench heard for 40 days the arguments of the Hindu and the Muslim sides.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, granted three days to contesting parties to file written notes on ‘moulding of relief’ or narrowing down the issues on which the court is required to adjudicate.

The other members of the bench are justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

Meanwhile, the Sunni Waqf Board on Wednesday offered to drop its claim to the disputed temple-mosque site in Ayodhya and has no objection to the land being taken over by the government for a Ram Temple, a mediation panel of the Supreme Court has said in its report, according to sources.

Besides agreeing to give up its claim to the site of the razed Babri mosque, the Waqf Board has also asked that existing mosques in Ayodhya be renovated by the government. The Waqf board has offered to build a mosque at any other suitable place, sources have revealed on the report that could lead to a breakthrough in the 134-year-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

The protracted hearing in the Ayodhya dispute had entered the crucial final leg on October 14 when the apex court resumed proceedings on the 38th day after the week-long Dussehra break.

The Constitution bench, which started the day-to-day proceedings on August 6 after mediation proceedings failed to find an amicable solution to the vexatious dispute, had revised the deadline for wrapping up the proceedings.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Initially, as many as five lawsuits were filed in the lower court. The first one was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, a devotee of ‘’Ram Lalla’’, in 1950 to seek enforcement of the right to worship of Hindus at the disputed site.

In the same year, the Paramahansa Ramachandra Das had also filed the lawsuit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols under the central dome of the now-demolished disputed structure.

The plea was later withdrawn.

Later, the Nirmohi Akahara also moved the trial court in 1959 seeking management and ‘’shebaiti’’ (devotee) rights over the 2.77 acre disputed land.

Then came the lawsuit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board which moved the court in 1961, claiming title right over the disputed property.

The deity, ‘’Ram Lalla Virajman’’ through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Janambhoomi (the birthplace) moved the lawsuit in 1989, seeking title right over the entire disputed property on the key ground that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a ‘’Juristic entity’’.

Later, all the lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication following the demolition of the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid structure on December 6, 1992, sparking communal riots in the country.

Earlier, the bench had said it would wrap up the hearing by October 17, a day sooner than the earlier schedule.

Fixing the schedule for the final leg of the lengthy arguments, it had said that the Muslim side would complete the arguments on October 14 and thereafter, two days would be granted to the Hindu parties to sum up their rejoinders by October 16.

The judgment in the matter is to be pronounced by November 17, the day the Chief Justice of India will demit the office.

The apex court had on August 6 commenced day-to-day proceedings in the case as the mediation proceedings initiated to find the amicable resolution had failed.

It had taken note of the report of the three-member panel, comprising Justice FMI Kallifulla, spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, that mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, did not result in any final settlement and it had to decide the matter pending before it.

According to reports, CJI Gogoi as cancelled his foreign visit owing to the verdict.

The Uttar Pradesh government issued an order saying officials on “field duty” will not be granted leave till November 30. The official order, however, attributed the decision to the festival season.

Down the years

1853
It was first time when incident of communal violence was recorded during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh. People’s who represented the Hindu community stated that Mosques was built after the demolition of Hindu temple.

1859
The possession of site led to the community clashes. Hence, British built a fence that separates the places of worships which means the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus.

1949
The Plight of violent controversies arises when Idol of Ram was placed inside the temple by Hindu activist and they spread the message that idols had ‘miraculously’ appeared inside the mosque. Muslims activist protest and both parties file civil suits and the end government proclaims the premises a disputed area and locks the gates. Jawaharlal Nehru took a firm stand on the illegal installation of the idols and insisted that Idol should be removed but the local official K. K. K. Nair (known for his Hindu nationalist connections) refused to carry out orders, claiming that it would lead to communal riots.

1950
Gopal Singh Visharad suit filed for seeking permission for the right to worship the idols installed at ‘Asthan Janmabhoomi’. The court held back the removal of idols and allowed the worship.

1959
Nirmohi Akhara emerges as a new contender and suit file for the possession of the site who claimed themselves as the custodian of the spot at which Ram was supposedly born.

1961
Sunni Waqfs Board (central) move to court against forceful Idol installation and seeking for the possession of the mosque and adjoining land.

1986
On the basis of Hari Shankar Dubey’s plea, a district court directed to unlock the gate for ‘darshan’ to Hindu community. In the protest of verdict, Muslims set up Babri Masjid Action Committee. As a result, gate was opened for less than an hour and again remains locked.

1989
The former VHP vice-president Deoki Nandan Agarwala suit file for the title and possession at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.

October 23: The entire file suit related to the Babri-Masjid Disputes comes under the scanner of a Special Bench of High Court.

Later: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) puts foundation stone on land adjacent to the disputed mosque.

1990
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist try to demolish the Mosques and as a result they partially damage the mosques. The contemporary PM Chandra Shekhar tries to arbitrate the dispute through negotiation but failed.

1992
This year witnesses nationwide communal riots which claimed more than 2,000 lives when the disputed mosque is razed by Hindu activist in support of VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP.

The Investigation

On 16 December 1992, the Union home ministry set up the Liberhan Commission to investigate the destruction of the Mosque, headed by retired High Court Judge M. S. Liberhan.

After 399 sittings over sixteen years, the Commission submitted its 1,029-page report to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 30 June 2009.

According to the report, the events of 6 December 1992, in Ayodhya were “neither spontaneous nor unplanned”.

In March 2015, the Supreme Court of India admitted a petition alleging that, with a BJP government in power, the CBI would not pursue conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders including L. K. Advani and Rajnath Singh.

The Court asked the CBI to explain its delay in filing an appeal. In April 2017, a special Central Bureau of Investigation court framed criminal conspiracy charges against Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, and several others.