In a landmark judgment that stands as a testament to India’s enduring commitment to harmony and rule of law, the Supreme Court of India, on November 9, 2019, delivered a unanimous verdict in the long-standing Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.
The decision, adjudicated by a fivejudge Constitution Bench led by the thenCJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi marked a pivotal moment in the nation’s complex and diverse tapestry, showcasing an exemplary blend of faith, history, and judicial prudence.
The Ayodhya dispute, which has been a focal point of religious and historical contention, revolves around a 2.77-acre piece of land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The Supreme Court’s verdict, adjudged on a thorough assessment of various evidences, including the findings of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), directed the allocation of this land for the construction of a Ram temple.
In a move reflecting the spirit of reconciliation and inclusivity, the court also allotted a 5-acre plot to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for building a mosque.
The decision, based on a comprehensive legal framework, is a milestone in India’s judicial history. It underscores the importance of evidence-based adjudication, while delicately balancing the intricate interplay of faith and history. The court’s decision to involve both communities in the solution is a testament to India’s secular and inclusive ethos.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reaction to the verdict was a clarion call for unity and conciliation. Emphasizing the importance of viewing the verdict as a collective victory for the Indian ethos, PM Modi steered the narrative towards national harmony.
His commendation of the Supreme Court for its meticulous and patient approach exemplifies the robustness and impartiality of the Indian judiciary. The Prime Minister’s emphasis on peace and harmony resonates with the country’s commitment to development and societal cohesion.
Internationally, the verdict has been perceived as a significant moment in Prime Minister Modi’s tenure, reflecting on his Government’s ability to navigate complex issues within the constitutional and democratic framework. While some international media outlets viewed it as a boost for the ruling party’s ideology, the overarching narrative remains one of national unity and legal fortitude.
The historical verdict not only resolved a long-standing conflict but also demonstrated the effective functioning of India’s democratic institutions. The resolution of this issue, which has been a subject of intense debate and emotion for decades, illustrates the maturity and resilience of India’s judiciary. The judgment, based on a confluence of archaeological, historical, and legal examination, sets a precedent for resolving complex issues through legal frameworks.
Moreover, the Ayodhya verdict is emblematic of India’s pluralistic fabric. The decision to facilitate the construction of both a temple and a mosque in the vicinity highlights the country’s respect for diverse faiths and cultures. It is a reflection of India’s age-old tradition of ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhava’ (equality of all religions).
The post-verdict period has been marked by a commendable show of solidarity and restraint by citizens across the nation, adhering to Prime Minister Modi’s call for peace and harmony. This collective response reinforces India’s ethos as a nation that cherishes unity in diversity, setting a global example of resolving contentious issues with grace and maturity.
A new chapter
As India moves forward from this decisive juncture, the Ayodhya verdict will be remembered not just for its legal significance, but as a moment where the nation reaffirmed its commitment to unity, peace, and mutual respect. It marks a new chapter in India’s journey, one where differences are harmoniously bridged and diverse narratives coalesce to form a stronger and more unified national fabric.
In conclusion, the Ayodhya verdict is a beacon of India’s collective conscience, showcasing its dedication to upholding the rule of law, while fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
The historic decision serves as a reminder of the nation’s ability to navigate complex issues with a balanced and harmonious approach, strengthening the ties that bind India’s diverse population into a singular, resilient entity.
Key aspects of the verdict
-The court ruled that the rightful possessor of the disputed 2.77- acre land was identified as Ram Lalla Virajman, representing the infant Lord Ram and recognised as a juristic person. The directive mandated that the Centre must, within three months, devise a plan to establish a trust and transfer the land to this entity.
-Both the Central and UP governments were directed to allocate 5 acres of land at an alternate site in Ayodhya for the Sunni Central Waqf Board to build a mosque. “The land shall be allotted either by the Central government out of the land acquired under the Ayodhya Act 1993 or the state govt (UP) at a suitable prominent place in Ayodhya… The Sunni Central Waqf Board would be at liberty…to take all necessary steps for the construction of a mosque,” the SC said.
-It said in its order that “Hindu worship at Ramchabutra, Sita Rasoi and at other religious places… clearly indicated their open, exclusive and unimpeded possession of the outer courtyard.”
-The court also said, “Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in Ayodhya dispute; Muslims have not adduced evidence they were in exclusive possession of the dispute site.”
-It decreed that both the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the desecration of the Babri Masjid in 1949 were unlawful actions.
-Overturning the 2010 Allahabad High Court decision that divided the disputed site among the Sunni Waqf Board, Ram Lalla Virajman, and Nirmohi Akhara, the Supreme Court declared that the ruling defies logic and is contrary to certain principles of law.
-The court determined that the suit filed by Nirmohi Akhara could not be sustained as it lacked shebait (manager of the temple) rights. Nevertheless, it decided that Akhara should be granted representation in the board of trustees.
-The court dismissed Shia Waqf Board’s petition claiming that the disputed site belonged to them.
The Supreme Court also gave a message of unity and peace to the nation:
Above all, the law needs to be determined, interpreted and applied in this case to ensure that India retains its character as a home and refuge for many religions and plural values. It is in the cacophony of its multi-lingual and multi-cultural voices, based on a medley of regions and religions, that the Indian citizen as a person and India as a nation must realise the sense of peace within. It is in seeking this ultimate balance for a just society that we must apply justice, equity and good conscience. It is in these situations, that courts are empowered to ensure a just outcome by passing an order necessary to ensure complete justice between the parties.