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  • Yerram Geetha


Yerram Geetha,

Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation, College of Law


Both Muslims and Hindus live in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in the city of Ayodhya. When an idol of the young Ram, named Ram Lalla, was installed within the mosque and claimed to have emerged itself, the argument started in 1949. Hindus' religious beliefs became more intense as a result, and many came to Ayodhya to worship the deity. The Puranas are the source of the Hindu belief that Lord Ram is one of Lord Vishnu's incarnations, having been born in Ayodhya approximately 10,000 years ago. Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister, was consulted on the matter because he believed that such protests would jeopardize secularism. The partition led to Hindu Domination, which reduced the number of Muslims in India to less than half the population before partition.

The place was modified by devotees and started installing more idols, while Muslims were determinant in their opposition. The Sunni Central Board of Waqfs filed a counter petition in 1961, established by the Indian Law to protect and preserve Muslim religious and cultural sites. The legal battle over Ayodhya continued for decades, with the 1981 Meenakshi Puram incident making the issue a national one. In 1986, Umesh Chandra Pandey filed a petition to open the lock to the temple, which was accepted by the court. The Babri Masjid's demolition in 1992 caused unrest and led to the enactment of a new law that allowed Hindus for worship. This frustrated Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara, who challenged the new law. In 1986, Umesh Chandra Pandey filed a petition to open the lock to the temple, which was accepted by the court. The Babri Masjid's demolition in 1992 caused unrest and led to the enactment of a new law that allowed Hindus for worship. This frustrated Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara, who challenged the new law.

In 2003, the Allahabad High Court called the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out a survey on the disputed land, which affirmed traces of a northern-style temple under the site. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court declared the area to be trifurcated among Lord Ram, Muslims, and the Nirmohi Akhara. However, none of the parties accepted the verdict, and they appealed to the Supreme Court.

The case moved on until BJP Senior Member Subramanian Swamy filed a plea to consider the case as a Special Leave Petition, which was accepted and the hearing began on 6th August 2019. On November 9, 2019, the state of Uttar Pradesh was under full protection, and section 144 of the Cr. P. C. was imposed on several cities in India.


Ayodhya, a city in India, is home to both Hindu and Muslim communities. The first religious violence in Ayodhya occurred in 1850 over a nearby mosque, leading to the attack of the Babri Mosque by Hindus. Local Hindus demanded the land where the mosque was established and the right to build a temple on it, but the Colonial Government refused. In 1949, an offshoot of Hindu Mahasabha called Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha (ABRM) organized a 9-day Ramcharitmanas, leading to the breaking into the mosque and the establishment of idols of Rama and Sita. Jawaharlal Nehru ordered the removal of the idols, but local official K.K.K. Nair refused, fearing communal riots. The police locked the gates, and entry was banned for both Hindu and Muslim individuals. Priests were allowed to enter for daily worship, but both Sunni Waqf Board and AMRM filed a civil suit in local court, claiming their religious rights on site. The legal battle over Ayodhya began in 1950 when Gopal Singh Visharad, the secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, was refused entry. The court dragged on the issue for almost a decade, and in 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara filed another complaint for the area's possession. In 1961, the Sunni Central Waqf Council filed a counter-request, aiming to protect and preserve Muslim religious and cultural sites.

The Babri Masjid dispute is a complex legal battle between Hindu and Muslim parties over the ownership of a disputed piece of land in Ayodhya. The Hindu worshipper Gopal Singh Visharad filed the suit in 1952, seeking to declare his right to offer prayers at the main Janm Bhumi temple near the idols. The Hindu sect Nirmohi Akhara claimed they were in charge of the temple's affairs and received offerings from devotees. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf and other Muslim residents of Ayodhya filed a suit in 1961 for the declaration of their title to the disputed site, claiming a mosque existed and wanted the court to grant them the title and possession of the land. A deity, Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman, and the birth-place of Lord Rama, RamJanm Bhoomi, filed a suit claiming the disputed site was the birth-place of Lord Rama. The Shia Waqf Board claimed the Babri Masjid was built by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, challenging the High Court's judgement. The case was initially under the jurisdiction of the Allahabad High Court and then the Supreme Court, but the final verdict was reached on November 9, 2019, with the Supreme Court's verdict.


The Court identified sixteen issues for decision-making, however, we've only included the most crucial ones here:

1.  Who speaks for the interests of "Hindu" and "Muslim" people?

2.  Was a temple built above the Babri Masjid Mosque?

3.  Who has traditionally owned the contested site?

4.  Who is granted the title?

Court's Interpretation 

1.  Who speaks for "Muslim" and "Hindu" interests?

They represented Muslim interests as the Sunni Central Waqf Board oversaw the management of the mosque. Hindu interests were contested by several parties. A lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Hindu god Ram, dubbed "Suit 5" for obvious reasons, claiming that the idol was a representation of the god. The Court decided that the idol represented Hindu interests and could be granted independent legal identity. Giving religious idols their own legal personality, according to the Court, shielded the property from mismanagement, especially in situations like this one when a trust was not put in control of the property. The Court rejected the idea of extending legal personality to immovable property, such as a place of worship, on the grounds that distinct legal identity is a convenience and necessity-driven legal fiction.

2.  Was a temple built above the Babri Masjid?

The Court acknowledged that historical narratives were equivocal and addressed the inferential character of archaeological findings. But establishing title did not depend on whether or not the Babri Masjid was built over a temple. The Court recognized the challenges in obtaining archaeological evidence and witness testimony in an aural culture, even as it ruled that the overwhelming weight of evidence suggested a structure existed prior to the Babri Masjid.

3.  Who has historically owned the contested area? 

From 1528 to 1557, the Sunni Central Waqf Board was unable to present any proof of worship or sole possessory control over the inner courtyard. The contested site was not exclusively possessed by Muslims, as the Court was unable to conclude between 1528 and 1557. In order to preserve order between the two communities rather than establish title, a railing was created in 1857 to divide the area's inner and outer courtyards, and consequently Hindu and Muslim worship. Evidence does, however, suggest that Hindus have been the only ones allowed to worship in the Masjid's outer courtyard since 1856–1857. Hindus kept saying "[t]he birthplace of Lord Ram was within the precincts of and under the central dome of the mosque," as evidenced by their continuing prayers along the fence. The idols erected in the inner courtyard in 1949 and the 1934 riots actually proved that Muslims were not the only ones who owned the courtyard. As a result, Hindus had exclusive ownership of the outer courtyard, while there was ongoing disagreement over who owned the inside courtyard.

4.  Who owns the property that is under dispute?

The Hindus were unanimously awarded title over the contested property by the 5-judge constitutional bench of the Court. The Court determined that Hindus had a stronger possessory right than Muslims as they only owned the outside courtyard and disputed the interior courtyard. The Court did, however, accept that this decision was predicated on probability. The Court further declared that the Babri Masjid's destruction constituted a legal transgression that required repayment. The Central Government was ordered by the Court to establish a Trust to oversee the property, which included building a Ram Temple. The Nirmohi Akhara was provided representation in the Trust even though their lawsuit was limited. The Court ordered the Central and State governments to provide the Sunni Central Waqf Board five acres of land in Ayodhya so they may build a mosque.

The Allahabad High Court's decision on the Ayodhya Dispute, which arose from the demolition of the Babri Masjid, was made in 2010. The court awarded one-third of the disputed land to the Hindu, Muslim, and Nirmohi Akhara parties. However, the judges differentiated on whether the masjid was constructed by demolishing a Hindu structure or within the religious purview. The parties then moved to the Supreme Court for a suitable solution.

The Supreme Court has ruled in the Ayodhya Dispute, involving a dispute over 1500 square yards of land in Ayodhya. The Hindus claimed the land belonged to them and was the birthplace of Lord Rama, while the Muslims claimed it was theirs due to the famous Babri Masjid. The dispute arose from four regular suits between 1950 and 1989. The Supreme Court's constitutional bench, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, began hearings on August 6, 2019, but mediation failed to resolve the issue amicably. The hearings ended on October 16, 2019, making it the second-longest case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has delivered a unanimous judgment on the Ram Mandir issue, which has been a decade-long dispute. The judgement, which was backed by proper facts and evidence, was delivered after 40 days of case hearings and proceedings. The court found that Muslims cannot claim the disputed land on the basis of Adversary Title, as there is no conclusive proof of their possession for 20 years. Instead, the court determined that there was a temple and the place could be the birthplace of Lord Rama, and that the land belonged to Hindus. The court also directed the Centre to form a trust within three months for the construction of a temple at the site, with the land handed over to the trust.

Supreme Court ruling versus High Court ruling:

The ruling rendered by the Supreme Court in 2019 and the ruling rendered by the Allahabad High Court in 2010 on Ayodhya differ significantly. Following an extensive duration of legal proceedings, the Supreme Court rendered a decision. The Supreme Court awarded the Hindus the entire disputed land, while the Muslims were to receive 5 acres of land elsewhere at a prominent location in Ayodhya. The Nirmohi Akhara's claim to the land was completely rejected. This stands in contrast to the High Court's decision to distribute the disputed land equally among the three contending parties.

Ayodhya's Verdict: An impartial ruling:

The people were afraid of the outcome of the Ayodhya issue since, despite years of disagreement, no definitive decision that was agreed upon by both sides had emerged. However, the people did not anticipate what the Supreme Court accomplished in its stunning decision on November 9, 2019. The Supreme Court's decision created a situation in which everyone won. The fact that the result was reached by unanimous vote increased the perception of judicial equality. The Muslims were granted extra land to build the mosque, and the Hindus were granted the contested area to build their temple. It was a fair ruling. In this way, the religious sensibilities of both populations were upheld by providing them with goods that would satisfy them.

The Babri mosque dispute began in 1992 when a group of 200,000 Karsevaks destroyed the mosque, leading to riots across India. Ten days later, the Congressional government set up a commission of inquiry led by Judge Liberhan. In August 2019, the Supreme Court's 5-judge constitutional bench began the final hearing on the case. The hearing ended in October 2019, with the Supreme Court reserving the final judgment. The court ordered the surrender of land to a trust for the Temple of Ram and the government to donate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Council for a mosque. All petitions for review of the verdict were dismissed on December 12, 2019.


The Court resolved a property dispute over a religious site between Hindus and Muslims. The Ram idol represented Hindu interests, while the Sunni Waqf Board represented Muslim interests. The Court found Hindus possessed the outer courtyard since 1857, but couldn't determine ownership from 1528-1857. The Hindus were awarded title and 5 acres of land for a new mosque.


•        JUD_2[1].pdf 

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