What you should know before SC's verdict on Ayodhya

Representative image. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Saturday will pronounce its judgement in the seven-decade-old Ayodhya dispute case related to Babri Masjid and Ram Temple.

The top court had reserved its judgement on October 16 in the legal battle, where both the Hindu and Muslim sides made their arguments for 40 days to lay their claims over 2.77 acres of land.

A five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is set to pass the judgement in the matter, which has seen both the Hindu and Muslims make high-pitched arguments.

Follow live updates of Supreme Court's verdict on Ayodhya

As the country awaits Supreme Court's verdict on Ayodhya dispute that started on December 6, 1992, here's what you should know before the judgement:

What is the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute?

Ayodhya, located on the banks of the river Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh, is regarded as the birth place of Lord Rama, according to Ramayana. Hindus believe that an ancient temple stood at the birthplace to mark the spot but in 1528 it was demolished by Mughal emperor Babur. The emperor then built a mosque - Babri Masjid - at the same spot, which was subsequently demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

Five Supreme Court judges who will deliver Ayodhya Verdict

The dispute is over the ownership of the 2.77 acres of land.

Who are the main parties to the dispute?

The case has three key litigants. They are as follows:

a) The Nirmohi Akhara, which has been the shebait - manager of devasthan - of the Lord, historically.

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b) The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board which administers all wakfs in the state.

c) Ram Lalla, the deity that came into the litigation in 1989 after Deoki Nandan Agarwal, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court, filed a petition seeking to become the “sakha” or friend of the deity and its birthplace in the title suits. Agarwal later joined the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Besides, many community groups like the All India Hindu Mahasabha and individuals like Iqbal Ansari have picked their sides -- either Hindu or Muslim.

What is the legal history of the dispute?

1822: An official of the Faizabad court claim that the mosque stood on the site of a temple. The court dismisses the suit.

December 1949: Some Hindu activists place idols of Ram inside the disputed structure, leading to communal tension. The mosque is seized by authorities. Court orders restrain people from removing the idols, and the structure's use as a mosque. Over the next years, Hindu and Muslim groups file separate claims over the site and the structure.

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1986: A Faizabad district judge orders the gates of the Babri Masjid to be opened after 37 years, in favour of Hindu parties, and allow worship. The Rajiv Gandhi govt allows shilanyas at the site. The VHP lay the foundation of a Ram temple on land next to the Babri Masjid.

1990-91: L K Advani begins his 'rath yatra' for a Ram temple, and kar sevaks arrive in Ayodhya leading to clashes.

December 6, 1992: The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure was demolished.

September 2010: The Allahabad High Court in a 2:1 majority, rule three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. All parties approach the Supreme Court and get it stayed.

September-October 2019: The Supreme Court hear several appeals for 40 days and reserve judgment.

What do archaeological records say?

An Archaeological Survey of India probe ordered by High Court found proof of a massive structure just below the demolished Babri Masjid. The report, which was released in 2003, claimed the presence of walls and pillars of a temple-like structure. However, this was disputed by other members of the group, which conducted the dig.

Also read — Timeline of Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute

What did the Allahabad High Court verdict in 2010 say?

In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled a three-way division of the disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The inner court yard, where the dome once stood, went to the deity. The Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi nearby went to the Akhara, while the Muslim side got the last one third portion after partition and adjustments from the extra land in and around, acquired by the government.

The court asked each side to give entry and exit rights to the other. However, all the three parties moved the Supreme Court.

What did the three sides say in Supreme Court?

The Muslim side wants the mosque to be rebuilt at the same location. It also wants the apex court to implement the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which freezes all places of worship as they existed when India became free. This would prevent spillovers to other disputed sites like Mathura and Kashi.

The akhara and deity want possession of the land. The akhara is willing to concede the rights of the title to the deity if its shebait is recognised.

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