The Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict in Ayodhya’s Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit on Saturday. The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court is likely to pronounce judgment at 10:30 am.
A notice regarding the pronouncement of judgment by a Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was uploaded on the official website of the Supreme Court late Friday evening. Other members of the bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer. The bench on October 16 had reserved the judgment after the marathon hearings over 40 days.
All states and Union territories across India have been put on high alert as the Centre and the state governments are reaching out to the public to maintain peace and calm if the judgment is not in their favour.
Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit before the SC
The Supreme Court is set to deliver its verdict on 14 appeals filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered 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 SC had first appointed a three-member mediation panel, comprising Justice FMI Kallifulla, spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu. But when the SC was told that four-month-long mediation proceedings did not result in any final settlement, it decided to take up the matter in marathon hearings.
The CJI Gogoi-led Constitution bench heard the case in 40 day-to-day proceedings from August 6 till October 16. The verdict was expected any time before November 17, the day CJI Ranjan Gogoi retires, but the listing of the matter for Saturday has taken the nation by surprise.
Ayodhya on high alert
Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh has been put under a thick blanket of security. Apart from the regular security at the disputed site, the Centre has rushed in 4000 paramilitary personnel and 30 bomb squads. All dharamshalas in Ayodhya have been instructed to shut down and all non-locals have been asked to leave the city.
Ram Kot area around the disputed site has been closed off and police have blockades on the roads. After the SC circular informing about the imminent verdict, the police also took out a flag march on the streets on Ayodhya.
District Magistrates have been instructed to make arrangements for temporary jail if necessary.
Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath held a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation. Section 144 has imposed in the state.
Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) November 8, 2019
UP DGP OP Singh, who met the CJI earlier in the day, has issued a letter to the public, requesting everyone to maintain law and order not to forward any insensitive messages on social media or mobile chats. He has requested people to inform the authorities about any insensitive message or suspicious activity on toll-free number 112 or via social media.
All schools and colleges have been ordered to remain shut in Uttar Pradesh between November 9 and 11. November 12 is a holiday on account of Guru Nanak Jayati.
Locals, speaking to India Today TV, said that they expect the verdict to pass off peacefully unless outer forces try to instill any violence or clashes.
Tight security across India
In light of Ayodhya verdict, the security has been upped across the nation. All states and UTs have increased the presence of security forces on the streets. All jails have been put on high alert.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, section 144 has also been imposed across Jammu and Kashmir and Bengaluru city in Karnataka. Schools and colleges have also been ordered to remain shut in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, in J&K’s Kathua and parts of other states.
Police bodies, across India, have announced close monitoring of social media networks for any objectionable post. Maharashtra police even arrested a 56-year-old man on Friday evening for writing an objectionable post on Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue. He has been booked under sections 153 (1) (B), 188 of IPC (commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities).
Security of the five judges hearing the case has been increased.
Most of the political functions have been cancelled across the nation as the political leaders rush back to their state or constituencies before the verdict. However, the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration ceremony is likely to go ahead as planned. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to flag off the first batch of pilgrims to Pakistan-based Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara at 10:30 am, at the time of the verdict.
PM Narendra Modi implores peace and calm
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested the countrymen to welcome the SC judgment either way. “Ayodhya verdict, whatever it may be, will not mean victory or loss for anyone. I request people of the country to uphold the Indian tradition and maintain peace, unity and harmony,” PM Modi said.
“I welcome the efforts made by all sections of society including media to honour the Supreme Court and maintain an atmosphere of tolerance,” the PM said in a series of tweets.
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Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 8, 2019
“The Supreme Court’s decision on Ayodhya is coming tomorrow. For the past few months, the matter was being heard continuously in the Supreme Court, the whole country was watching eagerly. During this period, the efforts made by all sections of the society to maintain an atmosphere of goodwill are greatly appreciated,” PM Modi said.
History of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute cases
Initially, as many as five lawsuits were filed in the lower court. The first one was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, a devotee of ‘Ram Lalla’, in 1950 to seek enforcement of the right to worship of Hindus at the disputed site.
In the same year, the Paramahansa Ramachandra Das had also filed the lawsuit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols under the central dome of the now-demolished disputed structure.
The plea was later withdrawn.
Later, the Nirmohi Akahara also moved the trial court in 1959 seeking management and ‘shebaiti’ (devotee) rights over the 2.77 acre disputed land.
Then came the lawsuit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board which moved the court in 1961, claiming title right over the disputed property.
The deity, ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’, through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Janmbhoomi (the birthplace) moved the lawsuit in 1989, seeking title right over the entire disputed property on the key ground that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a ‘Juristic entity’.
Later, all the lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication following the demolition of the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid structure on December 6, 1992, sparking communal riots in the country.
(With inputs from PTI)