Lucknow: Sixty years after it first went to court, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has pronounced judgment in the Ayodhya title suit, saying Hindus and Muslims are joint title holders.
The three-judge bench - comprising Justice S U Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice D V Sharma - ruled in a majority judgment 2:1, that there be a three-way division of the disputed land - one-third for the Sunni Waqf Board, one-third for the Nirmohi Akhara and one-third to the party for 'Ram Lalla'.
Each of the three judges gave a summary of his own.
Justice Khan pointed to the unprecedented nature of Hindus and Muslims worshipping together for centuries. (Read: Muslims, Hindus worshipped together, says Justice Khan)
And Justice Aggarwal observed that the inner courtyard of the building belonged to both Hindus and Muslims. (Read: Inner courtyard area belongs to Hindus & Muslims, says Justice Agarwal)
The Ayodhya judgment
In an order that runs into over 8,000 pages, the High Court has said that the portion below the central dome under which the idols of Lord Ram and other Gods are placed in a makeshift temple, belongs to Hindus. All three judges agreed that the portion under the central dome should be allotted to Hindus.
The Nirmohi Akhara, the judgment says, would get the Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi. (Read the judgement)
Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP leader and senior advocate appearing for one of the litigants, emerged from court after the verdict to say, "this matter will be looked into in the next three months but the important part here is that court has taken a decision with the consent of the majority and that is that where Ram Lalla is (viraajman) is the birth place of Ram and that's what the Hindu's believe and even (Justice) SU Khan has also said that Ram Lalla will not be moved out from that place even when it will be divided into three."
Crucially, the court has said there shall be status quo at the site for three months.
There were two other majority findings, where one judge dissented and two agreed: that the disputed structure was a mosque and that a temple was demolished to build a mosque. Justice SU Khan held that no temple was demolished for constructing the mosque at the disputed structure. He said the mosque was constructed under orders of Babar over the ruins of temples lying in that state for a very long time. (Read: Ayodhya dispute timeline)
The judgment observed that the idols were placed beneath the central dome early on December 23, 1949.
The court dismissed two major claims to the land - one filed in 1989 on behalf Ram Lalla, or the infant Lord Ram, and the second by the Sunni Waqf Board filed in 1961. (Watch: Sunni Waqf Board's suit dismissed, says lawyer) | (Read: Sunni Waqf Board to appeal in Supreme Court)
The Sunni Waqf Board has said it does not agree with today's judgment and will appeal in the Supreme Court against it.
The chairman of the Sri Ram Janmbhoomi Trust, Nritya Gopal Das, too said they would challenge the decision to provide one-third of the disputed land to the Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court. (Watch: The background to the Ayodhya dispute)
The dispute before the court was whether the 2.7 acres of disputed land on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992, belongs to the Sunni Central Waqf Board or to the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.
It has been a protracted legal battle, and people across the country have spoken in one voice on the need to maintain peace and harmony.
PM appeals for peace
After a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on security, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued an appeal to "all sections of the people to maintain peace and tranquility and to show respect for all religions and religious beliefs in the highest traditions of Indian culture... Let me also state that Government on its part remains fully committed to upholding the rule of law and maintaining peace, order and harmony... It is my hope that the response of the people of India to the judgement will be respectful, dignified and do our country proud.
He said the "orders delivered by the three Honourable Judges need to be examined carefully." "The correct conclusion, at this stage, is that the status quo will be maintained until the cases are taken up by the Supreme Court," he said. (Read: PM appeals for peace after verdict)
Temple politics back?
Only a few hours after the Ayodhya verdict, top leaders of the BJP met at party patriarch LK Advani's residence in New Delhi. After the meeting, Advani said, "In so far as the judgement upholds the right of the Hindus to construct a temple, it is a significant step forward toward the construction of a grand temple of the birthplace of Lord Ram." (Watch: Advani, Modi, others react to verdict)
Advani said the BJP believed the verdict opened a new chapter for national integration and a new era of inter-community relations and added that the party "is gratified that the nation has received the verdict with maturity." (Read: A new chapter of national integration, says Advani)
No politics, please, said the Congress. Senior leader in charge of UP Digvijaya Singh said, "no politics at this point." (Watch: Ayodhya verdict- Temple politics back?)
Political parties appeal for calm
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the "judgement has paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The judgement is not a win or loss for anybody. We invite everybody, including Muslims, to help build the temple." (Watch: Nobody's victory or loss, says RSS)
Bhagwat also said "joy and happiness over the verdict" should find expression in a "controlled and peaceful manner" within the limits of law and constitution. "Uncalled for provocation must be avoided," he added, saying the movement for a Ram temple was "not a reactionary one, nor it is against any particular community."
Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC), too said, "We hope peace and tranquillity will be maintained." Jilani said the "majority judgment is that mosque and temple must coexist."
The Congress welcomed the Ayodhya judgment saying everyone should accept it and no one should treat it as a victory or defeat. "Congress has held that the controversy should either be solved through talks or the verdict of the court should be accepted. The court has given the verdict. We should all welcome the judgement," party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters. (Watch: Everyone should welcome Ayodhya judgement, says Congress)
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said, "I welcome the court's decision and appeal to all to maintain peace. We should all work towards harmony. I am happy that the judgement now paves the way for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. This judgement will work as a catalyst for the country's unity." Modi's views were also echoed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. (Watch: Narendra Modi on Ayodhya verdict)
CPM's Sitaram Yechury asked the people of India to maintain peace and not fall prey to any provocation. "This judgement requires to be fully studied. There may be questions on the nature of the verdict," the CPM Politburo said in a statement.
UP Chief Minister Mayawati threw the ball in the Centre's court over the implementation of the verdict and ensuring peace and harmony in the state. She alleged that the Centre had not provided enough paramilitary forces for security. (Watch: Upto the Centre to ensure compliance, says Mayawati)