Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ayodhya ruling: Ram to stay put, land to be divided

A panel of three judges has unanimously ruled that the God Ram is not to be moved from his birthplace. That is to say, the "Ram Lalla idol" that was installed in 1949 (and then replaced with a new one, pictured here, in 2002) at the traditional site of Ram's birth, will remain in place and Hindus will continue to be free to come and worship Ram there.

The 2.7 acres of land at the disputed Ayodhya site will be divided into three parts, with the land on which the Ram Lalla idol sits remaining in Hindu hands.

Below is the latest from the Times of India:

Disputed Ayodhya site to be divided into 3 parts
30 Sep 2010, 1616 hrs IST
The Allahabad High Court on Thursday (September 30) ruled majority that the 2.7 acres disputed land in Ayodhya, on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992, will be divided into three parts to be distributed among the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the party for 'Ram Lalla', said the lawyers.

The ownership of the disputed site is to be divided into three parts: the site of the Ram lala idol to Ram, Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, Sunni Wakf Board gets the rest.

Justice D V Sharma decrees the title suit in favour of Hindus, say lawyer K N Bhatt, who represented the party on
behalf of 'Ram Lalla'. Status quo will be maintained at the disputed site in Ayodhya for three months, claimed lawyers Ravi Shanker Prasad and K N Bhatt.

Justice S U Khan ruled that the disputed land belongs to both the communities, say lawyers.

Official verdict of the judgement awaited.

The verdict in the 60-year-old Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit is a landmark one particularly for Justice D V Sharma, who is set to demit office on Friday. The other judges on the Lucknow bench of the High Court are S U Khan and Sudhir Agarwal.

The Bench began the delivery of its verdict at 3:30 p.m. in Court Number 21 in the High Court premises which resembled a virtually impregnable fortress as the area surrounding it has been declared as a "no access zone".

The BJP core group will meet at senior leader L K Advani's residence this evening following the Ayodhya title suit judgement, immediately after the arrival of party President Nitin Gadkari from Mumbai. The meeting will be attended by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart in Upper House Arun Jaitely among others and is expected to chalk out the future course of action on the issue after the court verdict. Advani had asked partymen to refrain from commenting on the issue till the verdict was out.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Security is slated to meet in the evening and it may consider the Allahabad High Court judgement in the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram had appealed to the people to accept the verdict and maintain peace and tranquility. They had also stressed that no attempt should be made by any section of the people to provoke another section after the verdict.

The only hurdle in the pronouncement of the verdict was cleared by the Supreme Court on Tuesday when it dismissed the petition by a retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi for deferment of the keenly-awaited judgement.

The High Court verdict assumes significance as an amicable solution to the centuries old dispute over a piece of land has not been achieved through negotiations between the two religious groups. Repeated attempts were made by former Prime Ministers P V Narsimha Rao, V P Singh and Chandra Shekhar to persuade the two sides to reach a compromise but there was no success. The Ayodhya dispute has been an emotive issue for decades and mired in a slew of legal suits involving Hindu and Muslim religious groups.

The first title suit in the case was filed in 1950 by one Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking an injunction for permitting 'pooja'(worship) of Lord Ram at the disputed site while the second suit was filed by Paramhans Tamchandra Das also in 1950 seeking the same injunction but this was later withdrawn.

The third suit was filed in 1959 by the Nirmohi Akhara, seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site from the receiver and the fourth one came in 1961 by UP Sunni Central Board of Waqfs for declaration and possession of the site.

The fifth suit was moved on July one, 1989 in the name of Bhagwan Shree Ram Lalla Virajman also for declaration and possession. Through an application moved by then Advocate General of UP, all the four suits were transferred to the High Court in 1989. Out of the 94 witnesses in Court, 58 appeared from Hindu side and 36 from Muslim side and their statements run in more than 13,000 pages.

The High Court while adjudicating the case also asked the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out excavation in the area surrounding the disputed site to find out whether temple was there before mosque was built. The excavation, which was done in the presence of representatives from Hindus and Muslims, went on for more than five months between March and August in 2003.

Hearing in the case taken up on a day-to-day basis from January this year was completed on July 26 and the special bench had reserved its verdict asking the parties concerned to approach the OSD in case there was any scope of resolution to the case through reconciliation.

Since none of the parties made any attempt in this direction, the court had on September 8 fixed Septemebr 24 as the date for pronouncement of the verdict. It was fixed for September 30 after the apex court dismissed a plea for deferment of the High Court verdict.

The three main issues before the High Court are whether there was a temple at the disputed site, prior to 1528, whether the suit filed by the Sunni Central Waqf board in 1961 is barred by limitation and whether Muslims perfected their title through adverse possession.

The history of the dispute goes back to the year 1528 when a mosque was built on the site by Mughal emperor Babar which Hindus claim to be a birth place of Lord Ram and where a temple was there earlier. In order to settle the dispute the British officials in 1859 erected a fence to separate the places of worship, allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus and this system went on till 1949 when an idol of Lord Ram surfaced inside the mosque.

The authorities then declared the premises a disputed area and locked the gates which were unlocked after 37 years in by a District Judge in 1986 to allow 'darshan'.

With the passage of time the dispute took political colour. The Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 in the presence of senior leaders of VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP. The demolition of the mosque triggered communal riots in several parts of the country in which more than 2,000 lives were lost.

Earlier this month, R C Tripathi, one of the parties to the suit, moved a plea in the High Court seeking deferment of the verdict to make fresh attempts for out-of-court settlement through negotiations. On September 17, the High Court refused to defer pronouncement of the verdict following which the matter reached the Supreme Court. An apex Court bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and A K Patnaik refused to take up the case and referred it to another bench.

Difference of opinion between two Justices R V Raveendran and H L Gokhale, before whom the matter came up for hearing on September 23, surfaced on entertaining the petition. However, the Court issued notices to the parties. The matter was finally head by a special three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia on Tuesday and it dismissed the plea for deferment of the verdict by the High Court.

No comments: