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Supreme Court orders Centre to set up a trust for temple construction, Sunni Waqf Board to be given alternate land

Supreme Court orders Centre to set up a trust for temple construction, Sunni Waqf Board to be given alternate land

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court today settled the long pending Ayodhya land dispute case. In a unanimous decision, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi ruled that the 2.77 acres of the disputed land will remain with the Central government and be handed over to a Trust for the construction of a temple. The bench also ruled that a suitable five-acre plot must be found for a mosque at a prominent place in the town.

The apex court bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77-acre land rights will be handed over to the deity 'Ram Lalla', one of the three litigants in the case. The court in it's over one-thousand-page verdict said the faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed. It said the trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple.

The verdict was pronounced on 14 appeals filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment. The Court had delivered the verdict in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and 'Ram Lalla'.

The court said the Hindus have established their case that they were in possession of the outer courtyard and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case.

The court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at the outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there and the evidence suggests the Muslims offered Friday prayers at the mosque which indicates that they had not lost possession of the site. It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at Mosque, the evidence suggests that there was no abandonment in offering prayers.

The court further said the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the Archaeological Survey of India, ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque. It said that terming the archaeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the ASI.

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place. The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar griha are the testimony of the religious fact of the place. The court further said, however, that the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute.

The Apex Court dismissed the appeal of the Shia Waqf Board in the case saying that the land belongs to the government as per revenue records.