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Historic Verdict Recognises Ramjanmasthan, Calls For Tripartite Division Of Site, Sunni Waqf Petition Dismissed

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court in a historic verdict on Thursday dismissed the petition of Sunni Central Waqf Board, but in a 2-1 verdict suggested that the disputed site be divided into three
PTI September 30, 2010 20:05 IST
PTI
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court in a historic verdict on Thursday dismissed the petition of Sunni Central Waqf Board, but in a 2-1 verdict suggested that the disputed site be divided into three parts between Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lala and Sunni Waqf Board. 

In their separate judgements on the sensitive 60-year old title dispute on Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid structure, Justices S U Khan and Sudhir Agarwal said that the area under the central dome of the three-domed structure where Lord Ram's idol exists belongs to Hindus. 

The majority in the three-judge Lucknow bench also ruled that status quo should be maintained at the disputed place for three months. 

Justices Khan and Agarwal decreed that the 2.7 acre land comprising the disputed site should be divided into three equal parts and be given to Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the party representing 'Ram Lala Virajman' (Ram deity).

However, the third judge Justice D V Sharma ruled that that the disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram and that the disputed building constructed by Mughal emperor Babur was built against the tenets of Islam and did not have the character of the mosque.

Justice Khan said "all the three sets of parties, i.e. Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara are declared joint title holders of the property/premises in dispute as described by letters A B C D E F in the map Plan-I prepared by Shri Shiv Shankar Lal, Pleader/Commissioner appointed by court in Suit No. 1 to the extent of 1/3rd share each for using and managing the same for worshipping. A preliminary decree to this effect is passed." 

However, the judge observed that it is further declared that the portion below the central dome where at present the idol is kept in makeshift temple will be allotted to Hindus in final decree. 

He also said that Nirmohi Akhara will be allotted share including that part which is shown by the words 'Ram Chabutra' and 'Sita Rasoi' in the said map. 

Justice Khan said even though all the three parties are declared to have one-third share each, "however, if while allotting exact portions, some minor adjustments in the share is to be made, then the same will be made and the adversely-affected party may be compensated by some portion of the adjoining land which has been acquired by the central government."

In his gist of findings, Justice Khan observed that the disputed structure was constructed as mosque by or under the orders of Babar but it is not proved by direct evidence that the premises in dispute including constructed portion belonged to Babar or the person who built it. 

He also said that no temple was demolished for constructing the mosque as it was built over the ruins of temple which was lying for a very long time. 

In his judgement, Justice Agarwal said "it is declared that the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure, i.e., the disputed structure being the deity of Bhagwan Ram Janamsthan and place of birth of Lord Rama as per faith and belief of Hindus belong to plaintiffs (party on behalf of Lord Rama) and shall not be obstructed or interfered in any manner by the defendants." 

He also observed that the area within the inner courtyard excepting some portion belongs to members of both the communities, Hindus and Muslims, since it was being used by both since decades and centuries. 

"It is, however, made clear that the for the purpose of share of plaintiffs (parties on behalf of Lord Rama) under this direction", the area which is covered by central dome of the three-domed structure, shall also be included, he said. 

Justice Agarwal said the area covered by structures Ram Chabutra, Sita Rasoi and Bhandar in the outer courtyard is declared in the share of Nirmohi Akhara and they shall be entitled to possession thereof, in the absence of any person with better title.  

Justice Agarwal said the open area within the outer courtyard shall be shared by Nirmohi Akhara and the party for Lord Rama since it has generally been used by the Hindu people for worship at both places. 

"It is, however, made clear that the share of Muslim parties shall not be less than one-third of the total area of the premises and if necessary, it may be given some area of outer courtyard. 

"It is also made clear that while making metes and bounds, if some minor adjustments are to be made with respect to the share of different parties, the affected party may be compensated by allotting the requisite land from the area which is under acquisition of the Government of India," the judge said. 

In his findings on issues, Justice Agarwal said the parties of the Muslim side have failed to prove that the property in dispute was constructed by Babar in 1528 AD. 

Justice Sharma, writing a separate judgement, observed that the disputed site is the birth place of Lord Rama. "Place of birth is a juristic person and is a deity. It is personified as a spirit of divine worshipped as Lord Rama as a child. 

"Spirit of divine ever remains present everywhere at all times for anyone to invoke at any shape or form in accordance with his own aspirations and it can be shapeless and formless also," he said. 

On the disputed structure, Justice Sharma said it "was constructed by Babar, the year is not certain but it was against the tenets of Islam. Thus, it cannot have the character of a mosque." 

Differing with the other two judges, he also ruled that the disputed structure was constructed on the site of the old structure after demolition of the same. "The Archaeological Survey of India has proved that the structure was a massive Hindu religious structure," he said. 

He said the idols were placed in the middle dome of the disputed structure in the intervening night of December 22 and 23, 1949. 

With regard to the status of the disputed site -- inner and outer courtyard, Justice Sharma said "it is established that the property in suit is the site of Janambhoomi of Ram Chandra Ji and Hindus in general had the right to worship 'charan', 'Sita Rasoi', other idols and other object of worship existed upon the property in suit." 

He said "it is also established that Hindus have been worshipping the place in dispute as Janamsthan, i.e., a birth place as deity and visiting it as a sacred place of pilgrimage as of right since time immemorial." 

The judge said after the construction of the disputed structure, "it is proved the deities were installed inside the disputed structure on 22/23.12.1949. It is also proved that the outer courtyard was in exclusive possession of Hindus and they were worshipping throughout and in the inner courtyard (in the disputed structure) they were also worshipping. 

"It is also established that the disputed structure cannot be treated as a mosque as it came into existence against the tenets of Islam."

Soon after the verdict, the lawyer for Sunni Central Waqf Board  Zafaryab Jilani said that the board would appeal before the Supreme Court. Jilani said : “We are partly disappointed, but we think it is a step forward towards final resolution of the dispute. I reiterate that this verdict is not the victory or defeat of any side, but the verdict was against our espectations.” 

Counsel for Mahant Raghubar Das and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said he would appeal to the Muslim community, as an Indian citizen, to join hands in helping to build a temple to Lord Ram. 

The sarsanghchalak (chief) of RSS Mohan Bhagwat welcomed the verdict saying that  this has paved the way to build a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Bhagwat also said, this should not be seen as the victory or defeat of any side, and it was an opportunity to erase bitter memories of the past and build the temple. 

Bhagwat appealed to all not to do any thing to hurt the feelings of fellow countrymen. 

Union Law Minister Veerappa Moikly  said the Centre would take a stand after going through the details of the judgments. 

RJD chief Lalu Prasad said the legal option was still open. He appealed to all parties to maintain peace and calm. 

Some salient points of the verdict: 

1. Whether the disputed site is the birth place of Bhagwan Ram?

The disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram. Place of birth is a juristic person and is a deity. It is personified as the spirit of divine worshipped as birth place of Lord Rama as a child. Spirit of divine ever remains present every where at all times for any one to invoke at any shape or form in accordance with his own aspirations and it can be shapeless and formless also.

2. Whether the disputed building was a mosque? When was it built? By whom?

The disputed building was constructed by Babar, the year is not certain but it was built against the tenets of Islam. Thus, it cannot have the character of a mosque.

3. Whether the mosque was built after demolishing a Hindu temple?

The disputed structure was constructed on the site of old structure after demolition of the same. The Archaeological Survey of India has proved that the structure was a massive Hindu religious structure.

4. Whether the idols were placed in the building on the night of December 22/23rd, 1949?

The idols were placed in the middle dome of the disputed structure in the intervening night of 22/23.12.1949.

5. Whether any of the claims for title is time barred?

O.O.S. No. 4 of 1989, the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs U.P., Lucknow and others Vs. Gopal Singh Visharad and others and O.O.S. No.3 of 1989, Nirmohi Akhara and Another Vs. Sri Jamuna Prasad Singh and others are barred by time.

6. What will be the status of the disputed site e.g. inner and outer courtyard?

It is established that the property in suit is the site of Janm Bhumi of Ram Chandra Ji and Hindus in general had the right to worship Charan, Sita Rasoi, other idols and other object of worship existed upon the property in suit. It is also established that Hindus have been worshipping the place in dispute as Janm Sthan i.e. a birth place as deity and visiting it as a sacred place of pilgrimage as of right since time immemorial. After the construction of the disputed structure it is proved the deities were installed inside the disputed structure on 22/23.12.1949. It is also proved that the outer courtyard was in exclusive possession of Hindus and they were worshipping throughout and in the inner courtyard (in the disputed structure) they were also worshipping. It is also established that the disputed structure cannot be treated as a mosque as it came into existence against the tenets of Islam.