The Supreme Court of India is all set to pronounce its verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, also popularly known as the Ayodhya Dispute case on Saturday, November 9th, 2019.
Here is all you need to know about the case and its implications.
The 2.77 acres of disputed land is situated in Ayodhya, in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. The dispute involves 14 interested parties and 3 main religions of Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism.
The three main claimants to the land are the Nirmohi Akara (a sect founded by Ramanand who was a Vaishnava saint during the Bhakti movement in North India), Ram Lalla (deity Lord Ram who is represented by the temple authority. Indian law treats deities as legal personalities who are represented by their guardians who in most cases are the temple authorities) and the Sunni Waqf Board.
The case before the courts is a land title dispute case, however, it has deep political, religious and socio-religious consequences.
Timeline of the case
1528- Mir Baqi, one of the Generals in Babur’s army (first Mugal Emperor of India) is said to have destroyed the Ram temple that is believed to have existed at the currently disputed land and built a mosque called the Babri Masjid (Babur’s mosque) in its place.
1853- The first recorded incident of communal violence was reported between Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya.
1859- The British Government fenced the religious site; the Muslims were allowed to pray in the inner court and the Hindus in the outer court. The head of the Nirmohi Akhara petitioned the Faizabad district judge to permit the Hindus to pray to Ram Lalla inside the Babri Masjid. This petition was rejected by the court.
1949- Hindus allegedly placed an idol of Lord Ram inside the mosque. This triggered a protest by the Muslims and both communities filed civil suits. The government locked down the entire structure.
1984- The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) started a campaign to install the statue of Lord Ram and build a temple dedicated to Lord Ram in the area where the Babri Masjid stood. BJP Leader and former Union Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani took charge of the movement.
1986- The District Judge ordered the inner gates of the mosque to be opened to let the Hindus pray. This led the Muslims to form the Babri Mosque Action Committee.
1989- The VHP laid the foundation of the temple besides the mosque.
1992- Babri Masjid demolished by hindu activists of the VHP and allied organisations. Nationwide riots occur.A case is filed in the Allahabad High court in the interim period.
2002- PM Vajpayee sets up the Ayodhya cell within the PMO and appoints senior officials to hold talks with both the Hindu and Muslim leaders.
2003- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted a study of the disputed site on the order of the court and found evidence of a temple that had been demolished earlier. The Muslim parties objected to this finding.
2006-5 Islamic militants attack the site and tried to blow up the structure.
2009- Justice Liberhan commission report submitted to the parliament.
2010- The Allahabad High Court pronounces its verdict in the case. The 2.77 acres of the land is divided into three equal parts amongst the parties to the dispute. The Hindus get the central part of the disputed site and the Muslims protests against it and filed a review petition.
2011- The Supreme Court suspends the verdict of the Allahabad High Court as both Hindus and Muslims appeal against the verdict.
February 2019- A 5 Judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi calls for mediation between the parties.
The current Chief Justice (Designate) Justice SA Bobde said that,” we are considering the possibility of healing relations between the two communities. We as a court, can only decide the property issue”.
March 2019- The court reserved its verdict to invoke Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure (process that enables the courts to refer a dispute to a mediation/arbitration council). The Hindu parties oppose this decision. The Muslim parties welcome this decision provided the court regularly hears the matter.
A mediation panel is set up headed by former Supreme Court Judge FM Kalifulla and also consisting of Sri Sri Ravishankar (spiritual guru) and Sri Ram Panchu (Senior mediator and arbitrator) to try and amicably resolve the dispute.
October 2019- The Supreme Court concludes the submission of arguments from all sides after hearing the matter daily for a period of 40 days.
A judgment is expected on November 9th, 2019.
Preparations for the verdict
The entire Uttar Pradesh State machinery is preparing to ensure peace prevails in the aftermath of the verdict that is expected anytime soon. Some of the actions being taken are the following:
1. All leaves of police personnel have been cancelled,
2. Central paramilitary forces have been deployed to deal with untoward incidents,
3. Social media is being monitored and police has stated that they will actively counter rumour mongering and false claims being made and
4. Temporary jails have been set up to send those arrested for any offence that may be committed post the verdict.
5. All schools, colleges, educational institutions and training centres to remain closed from 9th November to 11th November.
It was remarkable that there was complete peace and no untoward incident reported after the verdict of the Allahabad High Court in 2010. The impartiality and independence of the Supreme Court is well known and it is expected that the parties to the dispute accept and follow the verdict in letter and spirit.
In a meeting called by the Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on 5th November, all sides agreed to abide by the verdict of the court and called for peace.
The parties said that this was a golden opportunity to end years of tensions and hate and establish good relations which will be beneficial for the welfare of the nation.