A temple will come up on the 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya and a five-acre plot at an alternate site will go for the building of a mosque, the Supreme Court said today in a landmark verdict on the century-old politically sensitive temple-mosque dispute. The five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said they should "ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied".
The Sunni Wakf Board will be granted five acres of land in a "suitable, prominent place in Ayodhya", the top court said, adding that the Muslims should not be deprived of a structure. The location of the alternate site will be decided by the Central or the state government, the bench said.
The dispute involved 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, which right-wing activists believe was the birthplace of Lord Ram. A 16th Century mosque - said to have been built by the Mughal Emperor Babur -- which stood at the spot was razed in December 1992 by right-wing activists.
The Muslims were dispossessed upon the desecration of the mosque on 22/23 December 1949 which was ultimately destroyed on 6 December 1992, the court said.
"There was no abandonment of the mosque by the Muslims. This court in the exercise of its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied. Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law.
The Constitution postulates the equality of all faiths," the court's 1045-page judgment read.
Explaining its decision to grant the disputed site for a temple, the court said, the Archaeological Survey of India has found evidence that the 16th Century mosque of Mughal Emperor Babar was not built on vacant land.
"On balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims," the judgment read.
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board - one of the respondents in the title suit -- has expressed dis-satisfaction with the verdict and said it would consider filing a review petition.
"We think it is unjust... We can't consider this justice. We are not criticising all parts of judgment," said Zafaryab Jilani, the lawyer of the Muslim group.
Mr Jilani said the crux of judgment -- the disputed land -- has been given to Suit No. 5 plaintiff. The land of the inner courtyard has also given to the other side, he said. "Giving all land to the other side is unjustified. We respect the top court, we have a right to disagree with the verdict. The top court has changed judgement in many cases. We have a right to seek review," he added.
"The document that you're relying on for Hindus having offered prayers there... the same document talks about Muslims offering prayers, which you are disregarding," Mr Jilani said.