On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court of India announced its verdict on the Ram JanmabhoomiBabri Masjid conflict, Indias longestrunning legal dispute. The final hearing in the case itself spanned over 40 days, making it the secondlongest proceeding in the history of the apex court.
A fivejudge bench of the court, headed by then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, ordered the setting up of a trust to construct the Ram temple at the disputed site, spread across 2.77 acres of land. The court also directed the Centre to allot an alternate fiveacre plot of land within Ayodhya to the Sunni Waqf Board.
The verdict of the court brought to an end a religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims that started 134 years ago, when the first FIR in the case was filed. The contested site, claimed by Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Ram, hosted the Babri mosque, which was built by the first Mughal emperor, Babur. Muslims claim they had been offering prayers at the mosque for generations until 1949, when Hindu activists placed idols of Ram inside the mosque. Following this, the government declared the premises a disputed area and locked it up.
The conflict between the two religious groups turned violent on December 6, 1992, when the mosque was demolished by Hindu Kar Sevaks, which led to communal riots across the country, killing at least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.
Those involved in the demolition of the mosque alleged that it was built by modifying or destroying a Hindu temple that previously stood on the same plot of land. They based their allegation on the findings of the Archaeological Survey of India, which suggested that the site contained the remnants of a 10thcentury temple beneath the Babri Mosque.
Following the demolition of the mosque, a case was filed in the Allahabad High Court, which gave its verdict on September 30, 2010. The court ordered that the land be equally divided among the three parties that were fighting for ownership of the site: Ram Lalla, represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha, Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. While the threejudge bench was not unanimous that the mosque was constructed after the demolition of a temple, it did agree that a temple or templelike structure existed below the mosque.
Unhappy with the verdict, the Sunni Waqf Board moved the Supreme Court. In its petition, the Board said that the verdict was based on faith and was not acceptable. The apex court then asked the parties to explore an outofcourt settlement. However, the Babri Masjid Action Committee refused to settle the issue externally, pointing out that political bias may influence the settlement in favour of the other groups that were fighting for the land.
On July 20, 2018, the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on the question of reference to a larger bench. On July 23, the court received a petition from a resident of Ayodhya, Vineet Kumar Maurya, who appealed to the court to direct the government to declare the disputed land as Ayodhya Buddha Vihara under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. On October 29 that year, the court postponed the hearing to January 2019, stating that the issue was not a priority for it.
On March 8, 2019, the Supreme Court referred the case for mediation to a threemember panel. But the mediation proceedings failed to come up with an amicable solution. The apex court then formed a fivejudge bench to hear the case, the proceedings of which began on August 6. The hearing concluded on October 16.
Although the verdict of the apex court has been hailed by a large number of the Hindu population in the country, including the Prime Minister, many Muslims are unhappy. On November 17, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the JamiatUlamaiHind announced that they would seek a review of the courts verdict. The Sunni Waqf Board, however, has distanced itself from the Law Boards decision and said it would not seek a review.
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Private and Common
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Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)
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