Masjid – (Islam) a Muslim place of worship. House of God, house of prayer, house of worship, place of worship – any building where congregations gather for prayer. One such masjid was situated at 26° 47′ 44.16″ N, 82° 11′ 40.2″ E in the east of India at a place called Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh India and was known as Babri Masjid.
The land on which Babri Masjid was built gave rise to a dispute between two religious communities, Hindus and Muslims both of whom claim ownership over a piece of land admeasuring 1500 square yards in the town of Ayodhya. The disputed property is of immense significance to Hindus and Muslims. The Hindu community claims it as the birthplace of Lord Ram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Muslim community claims it as the site of the historic Babri Masjid built by the first Mughal Emperor, Babur.
Rama is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu who killed the demon king Ravana. Rama’s father is King Dasaratha and his mother is Queen Kausalya. Rama was born at the end of the Second Age or Treta-yuga or around 2,165,000 years ago. There are a total of four yugas: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga in Sanatan Dharma.Rama’s wife is Sita the daughter of king Janaka. Rama had three half-brothers – Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna and a deep devotee lord Hanuman.
Babur, the founder of the largest dynasty of India,”The Mughals”, was born on February 14, 1483 .He passed away on December 26 in 1530.His actual name was Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur. His name is derived from the Persian word ‘Babr’, which means Tiger. In 1526, Babur won the Battle of Panipat against Ibrahim Lodi, the Lodi king. He captured Delhi and founded the greatest dynasty of North India — the Mughal Empire. He was a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan through his father and mother respectively. Babur was born in Andijan in the Fergana Valley (in present-day Uzbekistan).
There are two types of cases which have been recently closed by the courts of India, putting an end to all kinds of speculation about Babri Masjid.
Case1: IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION Civil Appeal Nos 10866-10867 of 2010: Judgment given on 9 November 2019 about the land ownership dispute
Case2: Special court Lucknow, Ayodhya Case. Government vs Pawan Kumar Pandey and Others. Judgment given on 30th September 2020. This was the criminal case for Babri Masjid Demolition
Chronology of Babri Masjid Dispute to the end
Year 1856-7: A communal riot took place. Historical accounts indicate that the conflagration had its focus at Hanumangarhi and the Babri mosque. Some of those accounts indicate that prior to the incident, Muslims and Hindus alike had access to the area of the mosque for the purpose of worship. The incident was proximate in time with the transfer of power to the colonial government. The incident led to the setting up of a railing made of a grill-brick wall outside the mosque.
Year 1858: A report was submitted by Sheetal Dubey who was the Thanedar, Oudh. The report spoke of an incident during which Hawan and Puja was organized inside the mosque by a Nihang Sikh who had erected a religious symbol.
Typical Nihang Sikh
Year 1860: There was an application dated by Mohammadi Shah, resident of Mohalla Ramkot seeking a postponement of the grant of a lease in respect of village Ramkot until a decision was taken on whether the land is Nazul land.
The term ‘Nazul land’ has a definite connotation. It inter alia means “Land or buildings in or near towns or villages which have escheated to the Government; property escheated or lapsed to the State: commonly applied to any land or house property belonging to Government either as an escheat or as having belonged to a former Government.
Year 1877: Another door to the outer courtyard was allowed to be opened by the administration on the northern site, in addition to the existing door on the east.
Year 1882: Mohd. Asghar instituted Suit against Raghubar Das, Mahant, Nirmohi Akhara claiming rent for use of the Chabutra and Takht near the door of Babri Masjid and for organizing the Kartik Mela on the occasion of Ram Navami.
Mahant Raghubar Das
Year 1885: A suit was instituted in the court of the Munsif, Faizabad by Mahant Raghubar Das, describing himself as ―Mahant Janmasthan at Ayodhya. The relief which was sought in the suit was an injunction restraining the defendant from obstructing the construction of a temple over the Chabutra admeasuring 17×21 feet. Since the area to visit the mosque and the temple was the same but the place where the Hindus offered worship was in their possession, there could be no dispute about their ownership; and though the person who was the owner and in possession is entitled to make construction, grant of permission to construct a temple in such close proximity to a mosque may lead to a serious dispute between Hindus and Muslims and create a law and order problem. The suit was dismissed on this ground.
A Suit was instituted by Mahant Raghubar Das, describing himself as ―Mahant Janamsthan situated at Ayodhya. The suit was initially instituted only against the Secretary of State for India. Suit for grant of permission for construction of Mandir.
The Sub-Judge held: after the quarrel between Hindus and Muslims a wall in the form of the railing was erected to avoid controversy. So that Muslims may worship inside it and Hindus may worship outside it. So, the outside land with chabootra which is in the possession of the plaintiff belongs to Hindus.
Year 1886: Against the decree of the Trial Court, an appeal was filed by Mahant Raghubar Das while cross-objections were filed by Mohd Asghar. The appeal was dismissed stating it was ―most unfortunate that the Masjid should have been built on the land especially held sacred by the Hindus but since the construction had been made 358 years earlier, it was too late in the day to reverse the process. A second appeal filed during the same year was also dismissed on similar grounds with the exception that the ownership comment during year 1885 suit was dropped maintaining a status quo on ownership of the land.
Year 1934: There was another communal incident in the course of which damage was sustained to the mosque which was subsequently restored. ―Temple of Janam Bhoomi is situate in Mohalla Ram Ghat of City, Ayodhya which is under the Baithak of this Akhara and its whole management is trust upon to this Akhara. It stands in name of Mahant of Akhara as Mahant and Manager. This is the best well reputed, moorty of worship temple of Ayodhya. Being the birthplace of Lord Rama, it is the main temple of Ayodhya. The deity of Shri Ram Lalaji is installed there and there are other deities also.
Shri Ram Lalaji
Year 1949: Kripal Singh who was the Superintendent of Police at Faizabad addressed a letter to K Nayar, the Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate, Faizabad stating:
“I visited the premises of Babri mosque and the Janm Asthan
in Ajodhya this evening. I noticed that several ―Hawan
Kunds‖ have been constructed all around the mosque.
Some of them have been built on old constructions already
Mohd Ibrahim who was the Waqf Inspector submitted a report to the secretary of the Masjid stating that Muslims were being prevented from offering namaz Isha (the namaz at night) at the mosque, due to the fear of Hindus and Sikhs and there was an apprehension of danger to the mosque.
K Nayyar addressed a communication to Govind Narayan who was Home Secretary to the Government of Uttar Pradesh, stating that there was a ―magnificent temple at the site which had been constructed by Vikramaditya, which was demolished by Babur construction of a mosque, known as Babri Masjid.
Hindu idols were surreptitiously placed inside Babri Masjid by a group of 50-60 persons. An FIR was lodged, complaining of the installation of idols inside the inner courtyard of the disputed site.
The site was declared disputed and placed under the care of chairman of municipal board. The last namaz offered in the mosque was on 16 December 1949.
Year 1950: The Commissioner submitted a report annexing two site plans which were numbered as Plan nos. 1 and 2. The idol of infant Lord Ram placed on a platform with two steps in was also reported along with many other findings.
A suit was instituted by Gopal Singh Visharad before the Civil Judge at Faizabad, describing himself as a Hindu devotee. He is a resident of Ayodhya and follower of ‗Santan Dharm‘. His grievance was that he was being prevented by officials of the government from entering the inner courtyard of the structure to offer worship. The plaintiff claims that he is entitled to worship the deity of Lord Ram.
1950, the ad interim injunction in Suit 1 was modified in the following terms:
―The opposite parties are hereby restrained by means of
temporary injunction to refrain from removing the idols in
question from the site in dispute and from interfering with
puja etc. as at present carried on. The order dated
16.01.1950 stands modified accordingly
Year 1951: The order of temporary injunction dated 16 January 1950 as modified on 19 January 1950 was confirmed. I, therefore, order that the file under Section 145 Cr.P.C. be consigned to records as it is and will be taken out for proceedings further when the temporary injunction is vacated.
Year 1954: The Additional City Magistrate issued the following directions: ―This file cannot be weeded as it is not a disposed of file. How do you report that it will be weeded of?
Year 1955: An appeal against the order dated 3 March 1951 under Order XLIII, Rule 1(r) of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 was dismissed by the High Court.
Year 1959: Suit 3 was instituted by Nirmohi Akhara for a decree against the receiver for handing over charge and management of the temple.
Year 1986: The District Judge, by an order directed the removal of locks and the opening of doors to permit the Hindus to pray to the idols in the inner courtyard.
Year 1989: The State of Uttar Pradesh filed a statement stating that ―the government is not interested in the properties in dispute and the actions of the officials in regard to the properties in dispute were bona fide in due discharge of their official duties.
The plaint sets out that Hindu devotees were desirous of constructing a temple at the disputed site and, the ―active movement was scheduled to commence from 30 September with the foundation stone being laid on 9 November 1989.
Proposed Ram Mandir
All suits pending in various courts for the said issue, suits filed in 1950, 1959 and 1989 were all transferred to the Allahabad High Court comprising of Justice S U Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice D V Sharma.
Year 1991 : Places of worship act: Indian Parliament enacted the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991. Sections 3, 6 and 8 of the legislation came into force at once on the date of enactment (18 September 1991) while the other provisions are deemed to have come into force on 11 July 1991. The long title evinces the intent of Parliament in enacting the law, for it is:
―An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to
provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any
place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947,
and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Places of Worship Act however contains an exemption from the application of its provisions to the place of worship ―commonly known as Ram Janam Bhumi –Babri Masjid‖ and to any suit, appeal or proceeding relating to it. Section 5 stipulates:
―5. Act not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid.—
Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the place or place
of worship commonly known as Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri
Masjid situated in Ayodhya in the State of Uttar Pradesh and
to any suit, appeal or other proceeding relating to the said
place or place of worship.
The State of Uttar Pradesh acquired an area of 2.77 acres comprising of the disputed premises and certain adjoining areas.
Year 1992: Babri Masjid was demolished by Hindu Kar Sevaks.
Babri Masjid demolishing
By a judgment and order the land acquisition by State of Uttar Pradesh was set aside by high court.
Case 2: Year 1992: A FIR was registered in the police station of Faizabad against unidentified persons under sections which cover demolishing of property, endangering human lives and hurting religious sentiments.
The station chief of Ayodhya registered a FIR under sections covering hurting religious sentiments and hurting a class or community of people against Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Vishnu Dalmiya, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Rithambara.
Approximately 47 media personnel also filed FIRs for loss of equipment and personal attacks.
The case was transferred to CBCID (Crime-Branch Crime Investigation Department).
The case was transferred to CID (Crime Inspection Department) along with the cases filed by journalists.
The Liberhan Commission was constituted by the Government of India to investigate the destruction of the disputed structure Babri Masjid in Ayodhya lead by retired High Court Judge M. S. Liberhan by an order of the Indian Home Union Ministry after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in the subsequent riots.
M. S. Liberhan
Year 1993: The Central Government acquired an area of about 68 acres, including the premises in dispute, by a legislation called the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993 (―Ayodhya Acquisition Act 1993).
Case2:1993: A FIR against 40 people was registered in Special court Lucknow , Ayodhya Chapter.
Year 1994: Constitution Bench of Supreme Court, titled Dr M Ismail Faruqui v Union of India held parts of Act of 1993 to be valid.
Case2:1994: All 40 people charged were present in the Special court Lucknow , Ayodhya Chapter.
Case2: 1996: CBI registered FIR against 9 additional people and hence the total people charged for Babri Masjid Demolition stood at 49.
Case2: 1997: The court found sufficient reasons sou motu to try all 49 charged to be tired under one comprehensive case. 33 of the charged filed for review petition in the high court.
Case2: 2001 : The high court upheld the special court order and set it aside. Due to this order the special court Luknow transferred the first 8 charged + 13 additional people to Raebareli court . Bala Saheb Thackery was one of those 13 charged and whose case was transferred to Raebareli. Not liking the decision of transfer, a review petition was filed in high court by Bala Saheb and others. This case was pending for decision until 2010. Until 2010 the Luknow court was on hold.
Bala Saheb Thackery
Year 2002 : The High Court proposed that an excavation be carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India. However later the order was changed to ASI will survey the disputed site using Ground Penetrating Radar.
Year 2003 : The ASI had a GPR survey conducted by a corporate entity which submitted its report to the High Court. The report found the presence of anomaly alignments across the main platform north and south of the sanctum sanctorum corresponding to the Ramchabutra area. However, the survey indicated that the exact nature of these anomalies could be determined on the basis of archaeological trenching.
Ground Penetrating Radar Technology
The High Court directed ASI to conduct an excavation. A final report was submitted in the same year. The high court noted “Nothing found in the structure in the way of image or sacred piece that can be called a ―shrine”.
Case2: Year 2003: CBI filed charge sheet against the 8 people from the original FIR. The special court of Raebareli evicted only Lal Krishna Advani from all charges. In protest the remaining 7 people filed a review petition in high court.
Year 2005: The High Court directed that the ASI report shall be admitted in evidence but the objections that were raised by the parties would be decided at the final hearing of the suits by which time the recording of evidence would be complete.
Case2: Year 2005: The high court summoned all 8 charged people. All 8 of them presented themselves in the court and charges were levied against them under various sections for rioting , hurting religious sentiments and hurting people from certain community. All 8 pleaded not guilty.
Case2: Year 2009:
Liberhan Commission submitted report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after a newspaper published the allegedly leaked contents of the report, the report was tabled in Parliament by the Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
Year 2010: The Full Bench of the High Court comprising of Justice S U Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice D V Sharma delivered the judgment, which is in appeal. Justice S U Khan and Justice Sudhir Agarwal held ―all the three sets of parties – Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara – as joint holders of the disputed premises and allotted a one third share to each of them in a preliminary decree.
Case2: 2010: The high court agreed with special court decision to transfer cases to Raebareli court. 21 out of 49 charged people were transferred.
Year 2011: A two judge Bench of this Supreme Court admitted several appeals and stayed the operation of the judgment and decree of the Allahabad High Court. During the pendency of the appeals, parties were directed to maintain status quo with respect to the disputed premises.
Case2:2011: CBI filed a review petition against the stay given by High Court for transfer of cases to Raebareli..
Years 2013, 2014 and 2015 and 2017: The Supreme Court issued directions for summoning the digital record of the evidence and pleadings from the Allahabad High Court and for furnishing
translated copies to the parties.
Year 2017: A three judge Bench of Supreme Court rejected the plea that the appeals against the impugned judgement be referred to a larger Bench in view of certain observations of the Constitution Bench in Ismail Faruqui case in 1994.
Case2: Year 2017 :The high court transferred cases from Raebareli to Court of Add. Sessions Judge Ayodhya matters Lucknow and directed cases to be filed as Criminal Conspiracy. The cases to be heard every day with no adjournment until conclusion with no transfer of judges and no new trial cases to be filed. CBI to make sure each day evidence and witness are available as per requirements.
Year 2018: The three judge Bench of supreme court by a majority of 2:1 declined to refer the judgment in Ismail Faruqui for reconsideration and listed the appeals against the impugned judgement for hearing.
Year 2019: The Chief Justice of India constituted a five judge Bench to hear the appeals. The Court referred the parties to a Court appointed and monitored mediation to explore the possibility of bringing about a permanent solution to the issues raised in the appeals. the mediation panel submitted a report titled ―Final Report of the Committee. The settlement agreement received by
Court from the mediation panel has not been agreed to or signed by all the parties to the present dispute, hence the settlement was not treated to be a binding or concluded agreement between the parties to the dispute.
In its final judgment, the five-judge bench concluded:
- Three-way bifurcation by the High Court is legally unsustainable
- The bench directed that land measuring 5 acres be allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board either by the Central Government out of the acquired land or by the Government of Uttar Pradesh within the city of Ayodhya.
- The Central Government shall, within a period of three months from the date of this judgment, formulate a scheme. The scheme shall envisage the setting up of a trust with a Board of Trustees or any other appropriate body for construction of a temple. Possession of the inner and outer courtyards shall be handed over to the Board of Trustees of the Trust or to the body so constitute
5 judge supreme court bench
The final supreme court judgment put an end to a dispute (Case 1 of this article) which started way back in the year 1856.
Case2: Year 2020: The special court of Lucknow, Ayodhya Chapter found all persons charged as not guilty and freed them of all the charges of Babri Masjid Demolition case. The court sited below main reasons to dismiss the charges against the accused.
Special Judge S K Yadav
- There are differences in witness statements
- None of the witnesses have identified the name accused as the person responsible for demolition of the mosque
- It is hard to believe that among thousands of people any one man can order the demolishing act
- The investigating agency CBI only presented circumstantial evidence to prove the charges which is questionable
- Based on facts it is concluded that the Babri Masjid demolition was not predetermined and there is no proof of a group planning
- There was a different group of people who carried out the demolition
- Media witnesses have admitted that none of the photographs submitted as proofs were collaborated with actual negatives, none of the negatives were presented as evidence, the genuinity of the submitted photographs was not established by an independent agency. None of the electronic evidences like video cassettes were original and they were all edited before submission to court’s consideration.
- The original copy of news submitted by the field correspondent was not available in unedited or original form. For that reason, published news and articles can’t be considered as evidence.
Babri Masjid Timeline