AYODHYA RAM JANMBHOOMI DISPUTE (CASE NOTES)



AYODHYA RAM JANMBHOOMI DISPUTE

M Siddiq v Mahant Suresh Das

Judges: Ranjan Gogoi, Sharad Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, Abdul Nazeer

Case-Number: CA 10866-10867/2010

 

[Major Issues before the Hon’ble SC

1. -Is the Allahabad High Court judgment, dividing the Ayodhya land title between the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla, valid?

2. -Are suits 3 and 4 barred by limitation, under the Limitation Act, 1908?

3. -Is the Ram Janmabhoomi (the birthplace of Ram) a juristic entity, independent of the presence of idols? And if so, is it immune from possession claims as a juristic entity?]

Babri Masjid , a 16th century mosque located in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The location of the mosque is additionally believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram (Shri Ram Janmabhoomi) by a big number of Hindus. This has repeatedly led to disputes about who possesses the land.

The current legal dispute arose out of a 1949 Faizabad court order. On the night 22ndDecember, a set of Hindu idols were placed (appeared) under the Babri Masjid dome. A law and order situation developed. On 29 December 1949, a Faizabad court placed area in question under the custodial responsibility of the state to keep in check the rising communal tensions. Especially, the Additional Magistrate issued a preliminary order under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 and directed the site to be placed under the receivership of the Chairman of the Municipal Board.

Following the 1949 order, three key title suits challenging it were filed:

1.         In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara filed a title suit (suit no. 3*). The Nirmohi Akhara claims it's the rightful manager of the Ram Janmabhoomi.

2.         In 1961, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqfs (hereafter Sunni Waqf Board) also filed a suit (suit no. 4). The Board claims possession of the mosque.

3.         In 1989, senior advocate Deoki N Agarwal filed a suit (suit no. 5) on behalf of Lord Ram in the Allahabad High Court. All prior suits were moved to the high court.

 In a highly significant development, in 1992 Babri Masjid was demolished by kar- Sevaks affiliated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other rightist organisations.

In September 2010, the Allahabad high court delivered a judgment dividing the Ayodhya title into three equal parts. It awarded the title to the Nirmohi Akhara, Lord Ram represented by Triloki Nath Pandey (an RSS volunteer and Vishva Hindu Parishad functionary, who replaced Agarwal after his death), and also the Sunni Waqf Board.

All the parties filed appeals, claiming various rights over the disputed land. In 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad high court judgment.

On 27 September 2018, a three-judge bench delivered its verdict on the question of whether the matter should be referred to a Constitution Bench (comprising 5-judges). The court ruled that a three-judge bench could still hear the matter. It rejected referring it to a Constitution Bench on the ground that Faruqui didn't need revisiting. Faruqui had held that mosques aren't an important feature of Islam. Justice Bhushan, on behalf of CJI Misra and himself, wrote the majoritarian opinion. Justice Nazeer wrote a dissenting opinion

Then, CJI Dipak Misra retired on 2 October 2018. On 8 January 2019, CJI Gogoi reassigned the dispute to a five-judge Constitution Bench, using his administrative powers as chief justice.

On 8 March 2019, the court ordered the main parties to try mediation over an eight-week period. The mediation proceedings began on 13 March and are set to complete in early May. On 10 May, the court extended the mediation period until 15 August, upon the request of several parties.

On 9 July one amongst the parties, Gopal Singh Visharad, approached the court to resume day-to-day court hearings. He contended that no progress was being made in the mediation proceedings.

On 6 August, the court began to hear the final arguments. It first heard the Nirmohi Akhara, and then, Shri Ram Virajman and various other Hindu parties. Currently, it's hearing arguments for the Sunni Waqf Board. CJI Gogoi has requested the parties to complete arguments by 18 October.

On 16 October, the court reserved judgment. The judgment is anticipated before CJI Ranjan Gogoi retires on 17th November.

On 9 November 2019, the court delivered its judgment. It awarded the title to the deity, Shri Ram Virajman and directed the State to grant the Sunni Waqf Board an alternate site at Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.