New Delhi: In a historic unanimous judgment on Saturday, which has settled the 70-year-old Ayodhya row, the Hindus have won the right to build the Ram Mandir on the disputed land where the 16th century Babri Mosque stood until its demolition in 1992.
Instead of giving the land to any party in the petition, the 5-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court headed by outgoing Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the Centre to take possession of both inner and outer courtyards of the site within three months and hand it over to a Trust of the Hindus for construction of the temple.
The Centre had acquired land around the disputed site after the mosque demolition.
The 5-judge Bench, which included CJI Gogoi, Justices S A Bobde, Dr D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, also asked the government to simultaneously hand over a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board to enable it to build a mosque.
The counsel of All India Muslim Law Board of the Sunni Muslims immediately held a press conference rejecting the 5-acre plot offer and indicated that it may seek review of the verdict. But later the Board seemed to backtrack.
The court said the Centre will allot the plot to the Sunni Muslims out of the land acquired under the 1993 Ayodhya Act; or the state government can give it the plot at a prominent place in Ayodhya.
The Sunni Central Waqf Board would be at liberty to build the mosque on the allotted land, together with other associated facilities.
The Nirmohi Akhara, which was allotted one-third of the disputed site in a trifurcation by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court 10 years ago, was ousted by the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the court directed the Centre to give it appropriate representation in the proposed trust which will build the temple.
The Akhara's suit was, however, dismissed; the bench held it was barred by limitation.