THE AYODHYA VERDICT
Context: A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on November 9 delivered its judgment in the Ayodhya case.
The judgment was regarding the cross-appeals filed by the Hindu and Muslim sides challenging the three-way partition of the disputed 2.77 acres of Ramjanmab hoomi- Babri Masjid land among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board in September 2010.
- In a unanimous judgment, the Bench has ordered that a temple must be constructed at the disputed site.
- The Muslims must be compensated with five acres of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya.
- The court also ordered the Central government to formulate a scheme within three months to implement this order.
SC ON FAITH OF HINDUS
- On the faith of Hindus, the Supreme Court observes:
- There is consistent proof that Hindus considered Ayodhya the birthplace of Ram
- Hindus believed Ram was born under the central dome of the demolished mosque.
- There is historical evidence to prove the presence of worshippers at Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi and offering of prayers.
SC ACCEPTS ASI FINDING
- Accepting the ASI’s report, the Supreme Court states that the mosque was not constructed on vacant land.
- It observes, the pre-existing structure was large and Babri pillars prove a pre-existing structure.
ON ALLAHABAD HIGHCOURT JUDGEMENT
The Supreme Court Bench says the three-way partition of the Ramjanmabhoomi by the Allahabad High Court defies logic.
ON THE CRIMINAL ACT OF DEMOLITION
The Supreme Court says the damage caused to Babri Masjid in 1934 and the desecration in 1949 violates the rule of law. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 during the pendency of the suits is condemnable
ADVERSE POSSESSION CLAIM REJECTED BY SC
The five-judge Constitution Bench that delivered the judgment in the Ayodhya case said that while Muslims never lost possession of the disputed land, they could not assert the right of adverse possession.
- Adverse possession is hostile possession of a property – which has to be continuous, uninterrupted and peaceful.
- The Muslim side had claimed that the mosque was built 400 years ago by Babar – and that even if it is assumed that it was built on the land where a temple earlier existed, Muslims, by virtue of their long exclusive and continuous possession – beginning from the time the mosque was built, and up to the time the mosque was desecrated – they had perfected their title by adverse possession.
- This argument has now been rejected by the Supreme Court.
DOCTRINE OF ESSENTIALITY AND THE BABRI MASJID CASE
The Supreme Court by a majority of 2-1 had refused earlier to refer for reconsideration by a larger Bench the five-judge Constitution Bench judgment in Dr M Ismail Faruqui and Ors vs. Union Of India and Ors (October 24, 1994), which upheld the law under which the Centre acquired the disputed land in Ayodhya on which the Babri Masjid had stood.
The Constitution Bench had ruled that “A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open.”
THE ESSENTIALITY DOCTRINE
- Theessential religious doctrine means that any religious practices that are so ‘essential’ to a religion or form the basis of a religion, will fall within the protection of Article 25 and 26 and should be protected as such.
- A seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court invented the doctrine of “essentiality” in the Shirur Mutt case in 1954.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE AYODHYA JUDGEMENT
- Duration of the Ayodhya hearing was surpassed only by the 68 days spent on the Kesavananda Bharati case, which laid down the doctrine of “basic features of the Constitution”.
- Ayodhya verdict is also integrally linked to secularism, considered a basic feature
- The apex court has not legitimized the movement to demolish the mosque.
- On the contrary it says quite explicitly that the destruction of mosque was a crime.
- Further it said ending Muslim prayer in the mosque after idols were installed inside the mosque in 1949 was illegal and unfair.
- It’s because of this injustice done to Muslims .that the court has directed grants of five acres of land in Ayodhya to the wakf board for construction of a mosque
- The court reiterates the principle of equality of faiths that informs the constitution
It’s important that no more mosques will be destroyed in future. And we all just need to move on and focus on building the nation.