How Supreme Court justified the verdict in favour of a temple at Ayodhya

The Ayodhya verdict has been hailed for bringing closure to a dispute festering since 1949. But the verdict has also baffled jurists, who wonder if this will be a precedent for future disputes

Supreme Court of India (File photo)
Supreme Court of India (File photo)

NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the central government to take over the disputed site at Ayodhya, form a Trust and hand over the land to the trust for construction of a temple. The court also ordered that an alternative plot of land be given to the Sunni Waqf Board for construction of a mosque.

And though the verdict says, “Mere evidence of existence of a pre-dated structure can’t be the sole basis to give the title’ and also that ‘ Title of land cannot be decided on the basis of faith and belief, but as per law,” the court proceeded to do just that.

Will faith and belief of communities be the ground for settling land Titles in future? And will this precedent be cited to settle similar disputes that arise? There are no easy answers at the moment.

The court sought to justify its verdict on the following grounds:

• Once evidence is there of the belief/faith that Ramjanmabhumi is the birthplace of Ram, court has to acknowledge it. Beyond the ken of the court to probe whether the belief is justified. Court cannot go by theology but only on evidence and balance of probabilities

• Balance of probabilities suggest pre-existence of a temple though the ASI refrained from saying that a temple was demolished; it only says that material of a temple was used for constructing mosque.

• Consistent proof that Hindus considered Ayodhya the birthplace of Ram. Hindus believed Ram was born under the central dome of the demolished mosque. Testimonies, even in cross examination, did not disprove Hindus' faith in birthplace as not genuine

• The construction of the railings on the premises was ostensibly to maintain peace. But the fact that Hindus leaned over the railings to offer worship at the direction of the mosque's central suggests their force of belief/faith that Ram was born there

• There is historical evidence to prove the presence of worshippers at Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi and offering of prayers. This was a practice even before the British came. The adjudication of title is based on evidence and not travelogues, gazette entries

• Both Hindus and Muslims cannot explain what the disputed land was used for from 12th to 16th century

• The Sunni Waqf Board's claim that the disputed premises was a waqf is a mirror image of the Hindus' claim that the Ramjanmabhumi is a legal personality. Both contentions have been rejected

• Muslims have not been able to prove their possession on the dispute property as a composite whole. No proof to show Muslim possession was exclusive

• SC 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 during the pendency of the suits is condemnable

• ASI report cannot be brushed aside. It proves that there was a Hindu temple though it is not proved that the mosque was constructed after a temple was demolished. But the mosque stood on the remnants of a temple. The underlying structure was not Islamic.

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Published: 09 Nov 2019, 2:30 PM