A five-judge bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi pronounced the verdict in one of the country’s significant and sensitive cases — the Ayodhya land dispute case on 9 November 2019. One of the longest-running battles in India’s legal history has just concluded. The first case in the Ayodhya title dispute was filed 134 years ago.
The dispute first escalated in 1949 when an idol of the Hindu deity was planted in the central dome of the Babri Masjid and the site was closed off. Several suits were subsequently filed staking ownership to the site.
Then in 1986, it was opened on a court order, a move would culminate in the 1992 riots and the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The beginning – 1857- It was the year of India’s first struggle of Independence against the British Raj. A petition was submitted before the magistrate of Faizabad by Maulvi Muhammad Asghar, the muezzin of Babri Masjid, alleging that the eastern part of the courtyard of the mosque has been forcibly taken over by the ahant of Hanuman Garhi.
1885- The first legal representation made by someone from the Hindu side. Mahant Raghubar Das filed a suit to gain legal title to the land and for permission to construct a temple on the ‘chabutra’ (raised platform) in the eastern courtyard. The petitioner claimed himself to be the mahant of the ‘janamsthan’ (birthplace) of Lord Ram and said the ‘chabutra’ was the Lord’s birthplace.
1886- The suit filed by Das was dismissed.
1949– A judge of Faizabad district court declared Babri Masjid a “disputed property” and ordered that status quo be maintained. Muslims were barred from entering the mosque and its main gate was locked. Hindus got permission for darshan from a side gate and four pujaris were employed with access to idols.
1950- A member of the Hindu Mahasabha, Gopal Singh Visharad, filed a civil suit, seeking permission for worship without obstruction and permanent ban on removal of idols.
1959- The Nirmohi Akhara filed a suit claiming that the entire structure be transferred to it as it was a temple and not a mosque.
1961- The Sunni Central Waqf Board filed a suit demanding that Babri Masjid be handed over to it.
1989- ‘Ramlalla’ himself became a party. The fifth suit filed by one Deoki Nandan Agarwal in the name of ‘Ramlalla Virajman’. Agarwal filed it as a ‘sakha’ (friend) of Ramlalla.
2010- The three-judge bench delivered the much-awaited judgment. The court divided the disputed land equally between the three major parties concerned, i.e., the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ramlalla Virajman. However, none of the parties was satisfied with the verdict.
November 9, 2019- The apex court gave the disputed land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, recognising Lord Ram — the deity Ram Lalla as a legitimate legal personality. The entire 2.77-acre of disputed property was given to Ram Lalla.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the judgment and said it had settled a long-standing dispute. “Every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view. This verdict will further increase people’s faith in judicial processes,” he said in a tweet.