Context

  • A Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra is scheduled to hear on August 11 a batch of appeals in the volatile Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi title dispute.

The Volatile case

  • The court recently indicated that it would start hearing the long-pending appeals shortly.
  • On March 21, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, had on an oral mentioning by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, suggested an out-of-court rapprochement among rival parties in the 68-year-old dispute.
  • The Chief Justice had advocated peace negotiations.

Recent news

  • On March 22, 2016, a Bench led by then Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said that Dr. Swamy’s plea to “rebuild” the Ram temple would be sent to the appropriate Bench dealing with the Ramjanmabhoomi title dispute appeals.
  • At that time, the Supreme Court had said that the case would be tagged with the appeals and heard in due course.

Brief Background of the Issue

  • The dispute, which has seen much tension and violence over the past decades, debuted in court in 1950 when Gopal Simla Visharad filed the first suit in Faizabad civil court for rights to perform pooja to Ram Lalla.
  • The same year saw Paramahansa Ramachandra Das also file a suit for continuation of pooja and keeping idols in the structure.
  • Nine years later, in 1959, Nirmohi Akhara floowed with a third suit for directions to hand over the charge of the disputed site.
  • P. Sunni Central Wakf Board filed the fourth suit in 1961 for declaration and possession.
  • The fifth was in 1989 in the name of Ram Lalla Virajman for declaration and possession.
  • On September 2010, a three-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court held that Hindus have the right to the makeshift temple under the central dome of the Babri Masjid.
  • The High Court ruled in favour of a three-part division of the disputed 2.77-acre area among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the Ram Lalla at the disputed site.
  • The Bench had relied on Hindu faith, belief and folklore.
  • The Sunni Waqf Board and other parties filed their appeals in the Supreme Court against the 2010 judgment.
  • The appeals is pending in the Supreme Court for the past six years.

Top facts in this big story:

  • The Babri Masjid was built in Ayodhya in 1528.
  • Hindu groups claim it was built after demolishing a temple.
  • In 1853, the first recorded communal clashes over the site took place.
  • In 1859, the British administration put a fence around the site marking separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims, and it stood that way for nearly 90 years.
  • For the first time, the property dispute went to court in 1949 after idols of Lord Ram were placed put inside the mosque.
  • In 1984, Hindu groups formed a committee to spearhead the construction of a Ram temple.
  • Three years later, a district court ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened after almost five decades and allowed Hindus to worship inside the “disputed structure.”
  • A Babri Mosque Action Committee was formed by Muslim groups.
  • In 1989, foundations of a temple were laid on land adjacent to the “disputed structure”.
  • In 1990, the then BJP president LK Advani took out a cross-country rathyatra to garner support to build a Ram temple at the site.
  • VHP volunteers partially damaged the Babri mosque.
  • On December 6, 1992, the mosque was demolished by KarSevaks.
  • Communal riots across India followed. Ten days after the demolition, the Liberhan Commission was set to probe the incident.
  • The Commission submitted its report on June 2009 – naming LK Advani, AtalBihari Vajpayee and other BJP leaders — almost 17 years after it began its inquiry.
  • In September 2003, a court ruled that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque.
  • But no charges were brought against MrAdvani who was then the Deputy Prime Minister.
  • But a year later, an Uttar Pradesh court ruled that the order which exonerated him should be reviewed.
  • On February 27 that year, at least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya.
  • Riots followed in the state, in which over 1000 people were reported to have died.
  • In April 2002, a 3-judge Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court began hearings on determining who owned the site.
  • In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court pronounced the verdict.
  • The verdict said the site of Babri mosque is to be divided into three parts, each going to NirmohiAkhara, Ram Lalla and the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Within months, Hindu groups and Muslim groups moved Supreme Court challenging the High Court verdict.
  • In 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad High Court order.
  • Not long before, the top court had said the Allahabad High Court verdict was strange and surprising.
  • In its 2017 UP election manifesto, the BJP said it “will explore all possibilities within the purview of the Constitution to construct a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya”.
  • The BJP returned to power in UP after 15 years.

What does this mean?

  • The Supreme Court wants a consensual and negotiated settlement since “Ayodhya is an issue of religion and sentiment.”

 

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