Analysis of Ayodhya Verdict : The Dispute That Divided Nation
Title: Analysis of Ayodhya Verdict : The Dispute That Divided Nation
Author: Shakti Chaturvedi
Institution: Delhi Metropolitan Education
The Ayodhya dispute was one of the most controversial debates in political, social and religious history of India. It finally came to an end when the constitutional bench of Supreme Court through its decision on 9th November 2019 resolved the conflict for title of the plot of land in Ayodhya. With this judgment, Ayodhya verdict became the second longest case with 40-days of hearing and was driven by lots of emotional and religious sentiments that made it almost impossible to any bit of coherence. This article is the brief analysis of the Ayodhya Verdict and its historical background.
The history of Ayodhya dispute can be traced back 500 years ago, when Babri Masjid was constructed by General Mir Baqi as a tribute to a Mughal Emperor Babur. This according to the locals was constructed after demolishing the Temple. The first riot between Hindu and Muslim was around 1853-59 for the possession of the plot of land in Ayodhya and to resolve this matter, British government came to role and divided the land into two parts for each i.e., inner area for Muslims and Outer area for Hindus. In 1885, Raghubir Das for the first time brought this matter before the court for the construction of roof.
After Independence, in 1949 this matter took a dramatic turn in the middle of the night when Ram Idol was placed inside the Mosque. This tensed the situation, as a result of which government closed the area. With time, many cases where filed by various committees made by Hindus and Muslims for the possession of the land. Followed by the decision of court of Faizabad to handover the possession to Hindus and then Lal Krishna Advani’s yath yatra from Gujarat to Ayodhya and then his arrest in Bihar, heightened the situation. On 6th December 1992, thousands of Kar sevaks reached Ayodhya and unlawfully demolished Babri Masjid.
Then in April 2002, Allahabad High Court through its 3-Judge Bench heard the matter and held that the plot will be divided into 3 equal parts. This decision was based on the report of Archaeological survey of India which stated that in 12th century there existed a temple and in 15th century there was a Mosque. Although there was no evidence between the time periods but the locals said that the temple was demolished to construct a Mosque.
But Supreme Court on 9th May 2011 held stay on the order and then in Feb, 2016 Subramanian Swamy filed case before the Court for Ram Mandir Nirman and in 2017, Justice J.S Khehar asked for mediation. Later, 32 appeals were filed before the court against the decision of Allahabad High Court, which was to be decided by the 5- Judge Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Sharad Arvind Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.
On 8th March 2019, Supreme Court called for mediation on the matter and its report was submitted to the court on May, 2019. Later, court heard the matter from 6th August to 14the October and then reserved its judgment and asked each party for submitting moulding of relief.
In this case, there were three parties claiming the possession of the land i.e., Nirmohi Akhara represented by S.K Jain, Sunni Waqf Board represented by Rajeev Dhawan and Ram Lalla Virajman represented by C.S. Vaidhyanathan.
Argument raised by Nirmohi Akhara was to claim the possession of Inner courtyard but had no enough proof to establish their right on it. On the other hand, Sunni Waqf Board argued that before 1992, there was a Masjid and in 1949, placing of Ram Murti inside the Mosque was an illegal act. They said that Ram Chabutra is the original birth place of Shri Ram and Hindus can have it but the possession of inner courtyard belongs to them and also there should be reconstruction of Masjid.
Whereas, Ram lalla virajman representative’s argument was based on ASI report, according to which Ram Temple had always existed there and was demolished for construction of Babri Masjid. Also since 1949, that area was under control of Hindus and the pillar of Babri Masjid had Hindu sculptures carved in it. Hence, the possession of the land belongs to them.
Judgment and Its Analysis:
The judgment was made by 5 judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and other Judges was Justice S.A. Bobde, D.Y Chnadrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer. Supreme Court while providing its judgment said that just local sayings or ASI report cannot be the only reason to decide ones possession on the land. Title of the land should be based on the legal principles and the evidences. Also SC criticized the decision of Allahabad High Court by saying it unsustainable as remedy provided by it was not asked by any party.
While deciding this historical judgment court held keeping of idols in the mosque on the night of Dec. 22, 1949 and demolition of Babri Masjid by Vishwa Hindu Parishad on 1992 was both criminal and illegal act. Apex court held them as against the law of the land. However, SC held that majority of this case was based on historical facts and figures and on probabilities. And using its power under Article 142 of constitution, SC tried to undo the previous mistakes done and unanimously held that 2.77 acre of land where Babri Masjid was built will be given to Ram Lalla Virajman, and Central government or State government have to give 5 acre of land in Ayodhya to Sunni Waqf Board for reconstruction of Masjid, at the same day.
As it had been evident in history that never both the parties can be satisfied that is way Vajpayee, Khehar and SC wanted to solve it through mediation which was unsuccessful and Supreme Court had to interfere. This decision was not to question which community’s faith is stronger but was a question to title and that is why court dealt this case as a property dispute based on evidences and facts.
In my opinion, this was an ideal verdict. Where decision making was extremely difficult because in normal cases one has to think legally but in cases like this which was connected to the beliefs of people and could had severe consequences attached to it. This decision was to balance the right and belief, which 5-Judges unanimously managed to do it deliberately and sets an example for future references. The large sections of society has approved and accepted the judgment but there are also some voices including Muslim leaders finding fault in the judgment. People are questioning it to be bias or failure of justice by pointing it to be a victory of faith over facts. But one must not forget how long this dispute was, and there was no hope or solution to this dispute from decades. SC judgments wide acceptance and verdict which brought end to this dispute, must be appreciated. Though the land has been allotted to both the parties but it is not the end. When religion is concerned, nation and its people can only progress when they decide to build future by moving on from their wrongs of the past.