AYODHYA CASE STUDY
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Author: Shushna Santra
Ayodhya land dispute case, the second longest-running case in Indian History concluded in the year 2019. The dispute was a socio-religious, political, and historical debate in India over a plot of land at Ayodhya which is believed to be a sacred city for Hindus.The dispute ran for 134 years and was for the first time filled at the Faizabad Civil Court.
Hindus believe Ayodhya to be the birthplace of Lord Shree Ram (one of Hindu’s most revered deities). Hinduism is a majority religion in India and is believed to be 4000 years old. On the other hand, the Islamic dynasty in India was established back in the 13th century.
The dispute stands mainly about a Mosque Babri Masjid constructed in the 16th century being demolished by Hindu mobs claiming that it was set up on the ruins of the Hindu Temple which was demolished by the Islamic invaders. The Hindus strongly believed that the land on which Babri Masjid was constructed was the birthplace of Hindu deity Rama.Thus, giving rise to religious tension inside the country.
The first longest running property dispute at Ayodhya dates back to 1858 when an FIR was filed on November 30, at the civil court of Faizabad. Years later, in 2019 the Supreme Court Of India pronounced its final verdict over the 2.77 acres of land at Ayodhya. The Supreme Court in its verdict headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with his five-judge bench members cleared the way for construction of Temple by the trust at the disputed site and ordered the government to provide 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a Mosque.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE CASE:
In the year 1528 Babri Masjid was constructed by the orders of the first Mughal emperor Babur. Meanwhile, in 1858 Mohammed Salim filed an FIR against a group of Nihang Sikhs. The reports verified also say that the platform or chabutra was made by the Hindus. this proved that the Hindus were not only in the outer courtyard but also in theinner courtyard. In the year 1885 Mahant Raghubar Das claims in his plea in Faizabad Civil Court (plea no.61/280) that the Mosque was constructed on the ruins of the Hindu Temple, therefore, seeking permission from the Court to construct a temple in the surrounding area of Babri Masjid. The plea was dismissed by the court. After this, no further proceedings took place for almost 63 years. Later in 1934, a riot took place increasing Hindu-Muslim tension where Hindus demolished a part of the Masjid at the disputed site. Later this portion was reconstructed by the Britishers.
CONTINUANCE OF THE CASE IN POST INDEPENDENT ERA:
Meanwhile,On the night of 22nd December to 23rd December 1949, idols were found from the central dome of the Mosque. The then Faizabad DM KK Nayar informed the then chief minister Govind BallabPant about the incident. The gates of the disputed area were locked after the incident.
In the year 1950 Gopal Singh Visharad and Paramahansa Ramchandra Das filled a suit in Faizabad court seeking rights to worship the idols. On the same day, the civil judge allowed the puja bypassing an order of injunction. On Dec 17, 1959, Nirmohi Akhada filed a suit seeking the possession of the disputed area. Two years later in 1961, the Sunni Waqf board along with all the defendants prayed before the court for the removal of idols.
In 1963 the court held that the Hindu community cannot be represented by a few persons. Therefore, Hindu Mahasabha, Arya Samaj, and Sanatan Dharma Sabha were there to repent the Hindu Community.In 1986 local courts orders for opening of the site for Hindus.
Deoki Nandan Agarwal, retired Judge of Allahabad High Court, filed a suit claiming to represent Ram Lalla Virajman. Later Babri Masjid Action Committee was formed.
To mobilize support for the building of Ram Temple L.K Advani started Yatra across the country. Later in the year 1992, the mosque was demolished by the Hindus leading to the death of over 2000 people and causing huge religious tension inside the country.
The Archeological Survey of India in its report in 2003 stated that Hindu idols found beneath the tomb sculptures were found on the walls of the Mosque which proved to be a Hindu site from the very beginning.
In 2010 Allahabad High court passed its order and split the property giving one to each to Ram Lalla, Sunni Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhada.
The Supreme Court overruled this judgment and passed its final verdict on November 09,2019. Since Nirmohi Akhada could not give any proof of its portion of the disputed land was given. Basedon the ASI report, the disputed land was given to Ram Lalla Virajman. Since the Muslim community could not prove its exclusive possession over the property the court order the government to provide 5 acres of land to build the Mosque at a suitable place in Ayodhya.
KEY OBSERVATIONS OF THE JUDGEMENT:
It affirmed that 1) the disputed spot is the birthplace of Hindu deity Shree Ram.
2) the Babri Masjid was made after the demolition of the Hindu Temple.
VIEWS AND ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT:
It has always been seen, that both the parties together are never satisfied with the decisions of the court. One party is always less satisfied. Here in this case though the SC has ordered the government to give a separate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf board but the main disputed land over which the communities fought for years was passed to the Hindus (Ram Lalla).
Though India is a secular country and is not focused on one religion but respects all religions. A nation can develop only if it breaks all religious boundaries and delivers justice to all. But on the other side, Hinduism is the majority religion in India. It is often argued that is the majority religious factors that the disputed land was given only to Ram Lalla?
The judgment of the SC is definitely to be respected as it did order to allot a separate land for the construction of the mosque but the question arises why the disputed area was not divided into two parts?
After the riots took place the Court termed the demolition of Babri Masjid as "illegal". If it was at all illegal then why the land was not divided equally. Was it just to maintain social harmonical peace?
Political control plays a huge part in the decisions. If there is less political influence the delivery of justice is believed to be more transparent. Riots, strikes have given nothing but made situations worse. It also raises questions as to why the arbitration did not work. A nation can develop more only if it pushes always the religious fights and settle matters peacefully. Though the judgment of the Court was expected to balance things it seems to be resting more on the majoritarian polity.
Krishnadas Rajagopal, A Chronology of the Ayodhya dispute, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-chronology-of-the-ayodhya-dispute/article29929198.ece Kumar Anshuman, Ayodhya Case:A brief history of India’s longest running property dispute, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ayodhya-case-a-brief-history-of-indias-longest-running-property-dispute/articleshow/71988076.cms?from=mdr