The Supreme Court on Saturday termed "legally unsustainable" the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court, which had partitioned the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya equally among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The top court, which delivered a historic verdict and put the curtains down on the legal battle that had torn the social fabric of the nation, said that dividing the land would not subserve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquillity.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that in its September 30, 2010, verdict, the high court had "adopted a path which was not open to it" and granted reliefs which were not the subject matter of the prayers in the suits before it.
"We have already concluded that the three-way bifurcation by the high court was legally unsustainable. Even as a matter of maintaining public peace and tranquillity, the solution which commended itself to the high court is not feasible," said the bench, comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
"The disputed site admeasures all of 1,500 square yards. Dividing the land will not subserve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquillity," it said.
The bench said the high court had "completely erred" in granting relief which lay outside the ambit of the pleadings and the cases set up by the plaintiffs in three suits.
It said there was "another serious flaw" in the entire approach of the high court in granting relief of a three-way bifurcation of the disputed site.
"Having come to the conclusion that suit 3 (filed by Nirmohi Akhara) and suit 4 (filed by Sunni Central Waqf Board) were barred by limitation, the high court proceeded to grant relief in suit 5 to the plaintiffs in suits 3 and 4," it said.
"This defies logic and is contrary to settled principles of law... On its own case, Nirmohi Akhara could not have been granted an independent share of the land," the bench said.
The top court noted the high court had held that the suits filed by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara were barred by limitation.