New Delhi: The disputed land in Ayodhya will be given to a government-run trust for the building of a temple and Muslims will be given a five-acre “suitable” plot in the town, the Supreme Court announced today in a landmark verdict in a religious and political flashpoint that has cast a shadow over the country for decades. The five-judge constitution bench delivered a unanimous verdict amid appeals for peace by political and religious leaders and heightened security across the country. The verdict comes after a century-old legal wrangle over a piece of land in Ayodhya on which a Babri mosque, built in the 16th century, stood before it was razed by Hindu activists, on December 6, 1992, who believe it is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Here are 5 points from today’s verdict:
- Basing its verdict on the report filed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Supreme Court said the land dispute at the heart of the case should be decided on evidence. “Title cannot be established based on faith and belief. Whether a belief is justified is beyond judicial inquiry. Once a faith is established, courts should defer to it,” the court said, adding that it should “preserve balance”.
- The ASI report had noted that while an older structure existed below the disputed building, it could not be said if it (the disputed building) had been constructed after demolishing the older structure. However, the Supreme Court said the underlying structure was not Islamic.
- The court said that as per documentary evidence prior to 1857 there was no exclusion of Hindus from worshipping at the site. The outer courtyard became a focal point of worshipping by Hindus, for which they have been able to establish unimpeded possession, the court added.
- Muslims have not brought evidence to show possession, the court said. There is also no evidence to show the offer of namaz by Muslims was to the exclusion of Hindus, it added. Noting that the inner courtyard was the contested site, the court also said evidence does not indicate it was abandoned by the Muslims.
- The court’s ruling that the 2.77 acres is to be handed over to a government-run trust to build a temple is contingent on maintenance of peace in Ayodhya, the court ruled. The government has been tasked with keeping law and order.
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