Ayodhya Verdict: Full Text

A five judge bench of the Supreme Court delivered the judgment in the Ayodhya case on November 9, 2019.

A. Introduction

1. These first appeals centre around a dispute between two religious communities 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 birth-place 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. The lands of our country have witnessed invasions and dissensions. Yet they have assimilated into the idea of India everyone who sought their providence, whether they came as merchants, travellers or as conquerors. The history and culture of this country have been home to quests for truth, through the material, the political, and the spiritual. This Court is called upon to fulfil its adjudicatory function where it is claimed that two quests for the truth impinge on the freedoms of the other or violate the rule of law.

2. This Court is tasked with the resolution of a dispute whose origins are as old as the idea of India itself. The events associated with the dispute have spanned the Mughal empire, colonial rule and the present constitutional regime. Constitutional values form the cornerstone of this nation and have facilitated the lawful resolution of the present title dispute through forty-one days of hearings before this Court. The dispute in these appeals arises out of four regular suits which were instituted between 1950 and 1989. Before the Allahabad High Court, voluminous evidence, both oral and documentary was led, resulting in three judgements running the course of 4304 pages. This judgement is placed in challenge in the appeals.

3. The disputed land forms part of the village of Kot Rama Chandra or, as it is otherwise called, Ramkot at Ayodhya, in Pargana Haveli Avadh, of Tehsil Sadar in the District of Faizabad. An old structure of a mosque existed at the site until 6 December 1992. The site has religious significance for the devotees of Lord Ram, who believe that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site. For this reason, the Hindus refer to the disputed site as Ram Janmabhumi or Ram Janmasthan (i.e. birth-place of Lord Ram). The Hindus assert that there existed at the disputed site an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ram, which was demolished upon the conquest of the Indian sub-continent by Mughal Emperor Babur. On the other hand, the Muslims contended that the mosque was built by or at the behest of Babur on vacant land. Though the significance of the site for the Hindus is not denied, it is the case of the Muslims that there exists no proprietary claim of the Hindus over the disputed property.

4. A suit was instituted in 1950 before the Civil Judge at Faizabad by a Hindu worshipper, Gopal Singh Visharad seeking a declaration that according to his religion and custom, he is entitled to offer prayers at the main Janmabhumi temple near the idols.

5. The Nirmohi Akhara represents a religious sect amongst the Hindus, known as the Ramanandi Bairagis. The Nirmohis claim that they were, at all material times, in charge and management of the structure at the disputed site which according to them was a 'temple‘ until 29 December 1949, on which date an attachment was ordered under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898. In effect, they claim as shebaits in service of the deity, managing its affairs and receiving offerings from devotees. Theirs is a Suit of 1959 for the management and charge of 'the temple‘.

6. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf ('Sunni Central Waqf Board') and other Muslim residents of Ayodhya instituted a suit in 1961 for a declaration of their title to the disputed site. According to them, the old structure was a mosque which was built on the instructions of Emperor Babur by Mir Baqi who was the Commander of his forces, following the conquest of the sub-continent by the Mughal Emperor in the third decade of the sixteenth century. The Muslims deny that the mosque was constructed on the site of a destroyed temple. According to them, prayers were uninterruptedly offered in the mosque until 23 December 1949 when a group of Hindus desecrated it by placing idols within the precincts of its three-domed structure with the intent to destroy, damage and defile the Islamic religious structure. The Sunni Central Waqf Board claims a declaration of title and, if found necessary, a decree for possession.

7. A suit was instituted in 1989 by a next friend on behalf of the deity ('Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman') and the birth-place of Lord Ram ('Asthan Shri Ram Janmabhumi'). The suit is founded on the claim that the law recognises both the idol and the birth-place as juridical entities. The claim is that the place of birth is sanctified as an object of worship, personifying the divine spirit of Lord Ram. Hence, like the idol (which the law recognises as a juridical entity), the place of birth of the deity is claimed to be a legal person, or as it is described in legal parlance, to possess a juridical status. A declaration of title to the disputed site coupled with injunctive relief has been sought.

8. These suits, together with a separate suit by Hindu worshippers were transferred by the Allahabad High Court to itself for trial from the civil court at Faizabad. The High Court rendered a judgment in original proceedings arising out of the four suits and these appeals arise out of the decision of a Full Bench dated 30 September 2010. The High Court held that the suits filed by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and by Nirmohi Akhara were barred by limitation. Despite having held that those two suits were barred by time, the High Court held in a split 2:1 verdict that the Hindu and Muslim parties were joint holders of the disputed premises. Each of them was held entitled to one third of the disputed property. The Nirmohi Akhara was granted the remaining one third. A preliminary decree to that effect was passed in the suit brought by the idol and the birth-place of Lord Ram through the next friend.

9. Before deciding the appeals, it is necessary to set out the significant events which have taken place in the chequered history of this litigation, which spans nearly seven decades.

10. The disputed site has been a flash point of continued conflagration over decades. In 1856-57, riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in the vicinity of the structure. The colonial government attempted to raise a buffer between the two communities to maintain law and order by set ting up a grill-brick wall having a height of six or seven feet. This would divide the premises into two parts: the inner portion which would be used by the Muslim community and the outer portion or courtyard, which would be used by the Hindu community. The outer courtyard has several structures of religious significance for the Hindus, such as the Sita Rasoi and a platform called the Ramchabutra. In 1877, another door was opened on the northern side of the outer courtyard by the colonial government, which was given to the Hindus to control and manage. The bifurcation, as the record shows, did not resolve the conflict and there were numerous attempts by one or other of the parties to exclude the other.

11. In January 1885, Mahant Raghubar Das, claiming to be the Mahant of Ram Janmasthan instituted a suit1 ('Suit of 1885') before the Sub-Judge, Faizabad. The relief which he sought was permission to build a temple on the Ramchabutra situated in the outer courtyard, measuring seventeen feet by twenty-one feet. A sketch map was filed with the plaint. On 24 December 1885, the trial judge dismissed the suit, `noting that there was a possibility of riots breaking out between the two communities due to the proposed construction of a temple. The trial judge, however, observed that there could be no question or doubt regarding the possession and ownership of the Hindus over the Chabutra. On 18 March 1886, the District Judge dismissed the appeal against the judgment of the Trial Court2 but struck off the observations relating to the ownership of Hindus of the Chabutra contained in the judgment of the Trial Court. On 1 November 1886, the Judicial Commissioner of Oudh dismissed the second appeal3, noting that the Mahant had failed to present evidence of title to establish ownership of the Chabutra. In 1934, there was yet another conflagration between the two communities. The domed structure of the mosque was damaged during the incident and was subsequently repaired at the cost of the colonial government

12. The controversy entered a new phase on the night intervening 22 and 23 December 1949, when the mosque was desecrated by a group of about fifty or sixty people who broke open its locks and placed idols of Lord Ram under the central dome. A First Information Report ('FIR') was registered in relation to the incident. On 29 December 1949, the Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya issued a preliminary order under Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 18984 ('CrPC 1898'), treating the situation to be of an emergent nature. Simultaneously, an attachment order was issued and Priya Datt Ram, the Chairman of the Municipal Board of Faizabad was appointed as the receiver of the inner courtyard. On 5 January 1950, the receiver took charge of the inner courtyard and prepared an inventory of the attached properties. The Magistrate passed a preliminary order upon recording a satisfaction that the dispute between the two communities over their claims to worship and proprietorship over the structure would likely lead to a breach of peace. The stakeholders were allowed to file their written statements. Under the Magistrate‘s order, only two or three pujaris were permitted to go inside the place where the idols were kept, to perform religious ceremonies like bhog and puja. Members of the general public were restricted from entering and were only allowed darshan from beyond the grill-brick wall.

13. On 16 January 1950, a suit was instituted by a Hindu devotee, Gopal Singh Visharad5, ('Suit 1') before the Civil Judge at Faizabad, alleging that he was being prevented by officials of the government from entering the inner courtyard of the disputed site to offer worship. A declaration was sought to allow the plaintiff to offer prayers in accordance with the rites and tenets of his religion ('Sanatan Dharm') at the 'main Janmabhumi', near the idols, within the inner courtyard, without hindrance. On the same date, an ad-interim injunction was issued in the suit. On 19 January 1950, the injunction was modified to prevent the idols from being removed from the disputed site and from causing interference in the performance of puja. On 3 March 1951, the Trial Court confirmed the ad-interim order, as modified. On 26 May 1955, the appeal6 against the interim order was dismissed by the High Court of Allahabad.

14. On 5 December 1950, another suit was instituted by Paramhans Ramchandra Das7 ('Suit 2') before the Civil Judge, Faizabad seeking reliefs similar to those in Suit 1. Suit 2 was subsequently withdrawn on 18 September 1990.

15. On 1 April 1950, a Court Commissioner was appointed in Suit 1 to prepare a map of the disputed premises. On 25 June 1950, the Commissioner submitted a report, together with two site plans of the disputed premises which were numbered as Plan nos 1 and 2 to the Trial Court. Both the report and maps

Report of the Commissioner

I was appointed a commissioner in the above case to prepare a site plan of the locality and building in suit on scale. Accordingly, in compliance with the order of the court, I visited the locality on 16.4.50 and again on 30.4.50 after giving due notice to the counsel of the parties, and made necessary measurements on the spot. On the first day of my visit none of the parties were present, but on the second day defendant no. 1 was present with Shri Azimullah Khan and Shri Habib Ahmad Khan counsel. At about noon defendant no. 1 presented an application, attached herewith, when the measurement work had already finished.

Plan No. I represents the building in suit shown by the figure ABCDEF on a larger scale than Plan no.II, which represents the building with its locality.

A perusal of Plan No.I would show that the building has got two gates, one on the east and the other on the north, known as ?Hanumatdwar? and ?Singhdwar? respectively. The ?Hanumatdwar? is the main entrance gate to the building. At this gate there is a stone slab fixed to the ground containing the inscription ?1-Shri Janma Bhumi nitya yatra,? and a big coloured picture of Shri Hanumanji is placed at the top of the gate. The arch of this entrance gate, 10‘ in height, rests on two black kasauti stone pillars, each 4‘ high, marked a and b, containing images of ?Jai and Vijai? respectively engraved thereon. To the south of this gate on the outer wall there is engraved a stone image, 5‘ long, known as ?Varah Bhagwan.? The northern gate, known as ?Singhdwar,? 19‘6? in height, has got at its top images of Garura in the middle and two lions one on each side.

On entering the main gate there is pucca floor on the eastern and northern side of the inner building, marked by letters GHJKL DGB on the north of the eastern floor there is a neem tree, and to the south of it there is the bhandara (kitchen). Further south there is a raised pucca platform, 17‘ x 21‘ and 4‘ high, known as ?Ram Chabutra,? on which stands a small temple having idols of Ram and Janki installed therein. At the south-eastern corner E there is a joint neem-pipal tree, surrounded by a semi-circular pucca platform, on which are installed marble idols of Panchmukhi Mahadev, Parbati, Ganesh and Nandi.

On the northern floor there is a pucca platform, 8‘ x 9‘, called ?Sita Rasoi.? On this platform there is a pucca chulha with chauka and belna, made of marble, affixed by its side. To the east of the chulha there are four pairs of marble foot prints of Ram, Lakshman, Bharat & Shatrunghna.

The pucca courtyard in front of the inner (main) building is enclosed by walls NHJK intercepted by iron bars with two iron bar gates at O and P as shown in the Plan no.I. At the southern end of this Courtyard there are 14 stairs leading to the roof of the building, and to the south of the stairs there is a raised pucca platform 2‘ high, having a urinal marked U at its south-west corner. There are three arched gates, X,Y and Z leading to the main building, which is divided into three portions, having arches at Q and R. There is a chhajja (projected roof) above the arch Y. 31. The three arches, Y, Q and R are supported on 12 black kasauti stone pillars, each 6‘ high, marked with letters c to n in Plan no. I. The pillars e to m have carvings of kamal flowers thereon. The pillar contains the image of Shankar Bhagwan in Tandava nritya form and another disfigured image engraved thereon. The pillar J contained the carved image of Hanumanji. The pillar N has got the image of Lord Krishna engraved thereon other pillars have also got carvings of images which are effaced.

In the central portion of the building at the north-western corner, there is a pucca platform with two stairs, on which is installed the idol of Bal Ram (infant Ram).

At the top of the three portions of the building there are three round domes, as shown separately in Plan no.I, each on an octagonal base. There are no towers, nor is there any ghusalkhana or well in the building.

Around the building there is a pucca path known as parikrama, as shown in yellow in Plan Nos.I & II. On the west of the parikrama, the land is about 20‘ low, while the pucca road on the northern side is about 18‘ low. Other structures found on the locality have been shown in Plan no.II at their proper places.

The land shown by letters S and T is covered by huts and dhunis of sadhus. Adjacent to and south of the land shown by letter T, there is a raised platform, bounded by walls, 4‘ 6? high, with a passage towards west, known as ?shankar chabutra.? The pucca well, known as ?Sita koop? has got a tin shed over it, and a stone slab is fixed close to it with the inscription ?3-Sita koop?. To the south - west of this well there is another stone slab fixed into the ground with the inscription ?4-Sumitra Bhawan?. On the raised platform of Sumitra Bhawan there is a stone slab fixed to the ground, marked, carved with the image of Shesh nag.

The names of the various samadhis and other structures as noted in Plan No. II were given by sadhus and others present on the spot.

Plans nos.I and II, which form part of this report, two notices given to parties counsel and the application presented by defendant no.1 are attached herewith.

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient servant, Shiva Shankar Lal, Faizabad. Pleader 25.5.50 Commissioner

16. On 17 December 1959, Nirmohi Akhara instituted a suit8 through its Mahant (?Suit 3?) before the Civil Judge at Faizabad claiming that its ?absolute right? of managing the affairs of the Janmasthan and the temple had been impacted by the Magistrate‘s order of attachment and by the appointment of a receiver under Section 145. A decree was sought to hand over the management and charge of the temple to the plaintiff in Suit 3.

17. On 18 December 1961, the Sunni Central Waqf Board and nine Muslim residents of Ayodhya filed a suit9 (?Suit 4?) before the Civil Judge at Faizabad seeking a declaration that the entire disputed site of the Babri Masjid was a public mosque and for the delivery of possession upon removal of the idols.

18. On 6 January 1964, the trial of Suits 1, 3 and 4 was consolidated and Suit 4 was made the leading case.

19. On 25 January 1986, an application was filed by one Umesh Chandra before the Trial Court for breaking open the locks placed on the grill-brick wall and for allowing the public to perform darshan within the inner courtyard. On 1 February 1986, the District Judge issued directions to open the locks and to provide access to devotees for darshan inside the structure. In a Writ Petition10 filed before the High Court challenging the above order, an interim order was passed on 3 February 1986 directing that until further orders, the nature of the property as it existed shall not be altered. 8 9 10Regular Regular Civil Misc. Suit Suit Writ No No. No. 26 12 of 746 of 1959 1961 of 1986 (subsequently (subsequently renumbered renumbered as as OOS OOS No. No. 3 4 of of 1989) 1989)

20. On 1 July 1989, a Suit11 (?Suit 5?) was brought before the Civil Judge, Faizabad by the deity (?Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman?) and the birth-place (?Asthan Shri Ram Janam Bhumi, Ayodhya?), through a next friend for a declaration of title to the disputed premises and to restrain the defendants from interfering with or raising any objection to the construction of a temple. Suit 5 was tried with the other suits.

21. On 10 July 1989, all suits were transferred to the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. On 21 July 1989, a three judge Bench was constituted by the Chief Justice of the High Court for the trial of the suits. On an application by the State of Uttar Pradesh, the High Court passed an interim order on 14 August 1989, directing the parties to maintain status quo with respect to the property in dispute.

22. During the pendency of the proceedings, the State of Uttar Pradesh acquired an area of 2.77 acres comprising of the disputed premises and certain adjoining areas. This was effected by notifications dated 7 October 1991 and 10 October 1991 under Sections 4(1), 6 and 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 (?Land Acquisition Act?). The acquisition was for ?development and providing amenities to pilgrims in Ayodhya‘. A Writ Petition was filed before the High Court challenging the acquisition. By a judgment and order dated 11 December 1992, the acquisition was set aside.

23. A substantial change took place in the position at the site on 6 December 1992. A large crowd destroyed the mosque, boundary wall, and Ramchabutra. A makeshift structure of a temple was constructed at the place under the erstwhile 11 Regular Suit No. 236 of 1989 (subsequently renumbered as OOS No. 5 of 1989) central dome. The idols were placed there. Acquisition by the Central Government and Ismail Faruqui‘s case

24. 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?). Sections 3 and 4 envisaged the abatement of all suits which were pending before the High Court. Simultaneously, the President of India made a reference to this Court under Article 143 of the Constitution. The reference was on ?(w)hether a Hindu temple or any Hindu religious structure existed prior to the construction of the Ram Janam Bhoomi and Babari Masjid (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards on such structure) in the area on which the structure stands...?.

25. Writ petitions were filed before the High Court of Allahabad and this Court challenging the validity of the Act of 1993. All the petitions and the reference by the President were heard together and decided by a judgment dated 24 October 1994. The decision of a Constitution Bench of this Court, titled Dr M Ismail Faruqui v Union of India12 held Section 4(3), which provided for the abatement of all pending suits as unconstitutional. The rest of the Act of 1993 was held to be valid. The Constitution Bench declined to answer the Presidential reference and, as a result, all pending suits and proceedings in relation to the disputed premises stood revived. The Central Government was appointed as a statutory receiver for the maintenance of status quo and to hand over the disputed area in terms of the 12 (1994) 6 SCC 360 adjudication to be made in the suits.

The conclusions arrived at by the Constitution Bench are extracted below:

96. ... (1)(a) Sub-section (3) of Section 4 of the Act abates all pending suits and legal proceedings without providing for an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for resolution of the disputes between the parties thereto. This is an extinction of the judicial remedy for resolution of the dispute amounting to negation of rule of law. Sub-section (3) of Section 4 of the Act is, therefore, unconstitutional and invalid.

(1)(b) The remaining provisions of the Act do not suffer from any invalidity on the construction made thereof by us. Sub- section (3) of Section 4 of the Act is severable from the remaining Act. Accordingly, the challenge to the constitutional validity of the remaining Act, except for sub-section (3) of Sec. 4, is rejected.

(2) Irrespective of the status of a mosque under the Muslim law applicable in the Islamic countries, the status of a mosque under the Mahomedan Law applicable in secular India is the same and equal to that of any other place of worship of any religion; and it does not enjoy any greater immunity from acquisition in exercise of the sovereign or prerogative power of the State, than that of the places of worship of the other religions.

(3) The pending suits and other proceedings relating to the disputed area within which the structure (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards of such structure), commonly known as the Ram Janma Bhumi - Babri Masjid, stood, stand revived for adjudication of the dispute therein, together with the interim orders made, except to the extent the interim orders stand modified by the provisions of Section 7 of the Act.

(4) The vesting of the said disputed area in the Central Government by virtue of Section 3 of the Act is limited, as a statutory receiver with the duty for its management and administration according to Section 7 requiring maintenance of status quo therein under sub-section (2) of Section 7 of the Act. The duty of the Central Government as the statutory receiver is to handover the disputed area in accordance with Section 6 of the Act, in terms of the adjudication made in the suits for implementation of the final decision therein. This is the purpose for which the disputed area has been so acquired.

(5) The power of the courts in making further interim orders in the suits is limited to, and circumscribed by, the area outside the ambit of Section 7 of the Act.

(6) The vesting of the adjacent area, other than the disputed area, acquired by the Act in the Central Government by virtue of Section 3 of the Act is absolute with the power of management and administration thereof in accordance with sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the Act, till its further vesting in any authority or other body or trustees of any trust in accordance with Section 6 of the Act. The further vesting of the adjacent area, other than the disputed area, in accordance with Sec. 6 of the Act has to be made at the time and in the manner indicated, in view of the purpose of its acquisition.

(7) The meaning of the word "vest" in Section 3 and Section 6 of the Act has to be so understood in the different contexts.

(8) Section 8 of the Act is meant for payment of compensation to owners of the property vesting absolutely in the Central Government, the title to which is not in dispute being in excess of the disputed area which alone is the subject matter of the revived suits. It does not apply to the disputed area, title to which has to be adjudicated in the suits and in respect of which the Central Government is merely the statutory receiver as indicated, with the duty to restore it to the owner in terms of the adjudication made in the suits.

(9) The challenge to acquisition of any part of the adjacent area on the ground that it is unnecessary for achieving the professed objective of settling the long standing dispute cannot be examined at this stage. However, the area found to be superfluous on the exact area needed for the purpose being determined on adjudication of the dispute, must be restored to the undisputed owners.

(10) Rejection of the challenge by the undisputed owners to acquisition of some religious properties in the vicinity of the disputed area, at this stage is with the liberty granted to them to renew their challenge, if necessary at a later appropriate stage, in cases of continued retention by Central Government of their property in excess of the exact area determined to be needed on adjudication of the dispute.

(11) Consequently, the Special Reference No. 1 of 1993 made by the President of India under Art. 143(1) of the Constitution of India is superfluous and unnecessary and does not require to be answered. For this reason, we very respectfully decline to answer it and return the same.

(12) The questions relating to the constitutional validity of the said Act and maintainability of the Special Reference are decided in these terms.'

The proceedings before the High Court

26. The recording of oral evidence before the High Court commenced on 24 July 1996. During the course of the hearings, the High Court issued directions on 23 October 2002 to the Archaeological Survey of India (?ASI?) to carry out a scientific investigation and have the disputed site surveyed by Ground Penetrating Technology or Geo-Radiology (?GPR?). The GPR report dated 17 February 2003 indicated a variety of ?anomalies? which could be associated with ?ancient and contemporaneous structures? such as pillars, foundations, wall slabs and flooring extending over a large portion of the disputed site. In order to facilitate a further analysis, the High Court directed the ASI on 5 March 2003 to undertake the excavation of the disputed site. A fourteen-member team was constituted, and a site plan was prepared indicating the number of trenches to be laid out and excavated. On 22 August 2003, the ASI submitted its final report. The High Court heard objections to the report.

27. Evidence, both oral and documentary, was recorded before the High Court. As one of the judges, Justice Sudhir Agarwal noted, the High Court had before it 533 exhibits and depositions of 87 witnesses traversing 13,990 pages. Besides this, counsel relied on over a thousand reference books in Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Turkish, French and English, ranging from subjects as diverse as history, culture, archaeology and religion. The High Court ensured that the innumerable archaeological artefacts were kept in the record room. It received dozens of CDs and other records which the three judges of the High Court have marshalled. The decision of the High Court

28. On 30 September 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. Justice S U Khan held thus:

Accordingly, all the three sets of parties, i.e. Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara are declared joint title holders of the property/ premises in dispute as described by letters A B C D E F in the map Plan-I prepared by Sri Shiv Shanker Lal, Pleader/ Commissioner appointed by Court in Suit No.1 to the extent of one third share each for using and managing the same for worshipping. A preliminary decree to this effect is passed.

However, it is further declared that the portion below the central dome where at present the idol is kept in makeshift temple will be allotted to Hindus in final decree.

It is further directed that Nirmohi Akhara will be allotted share including that part which is shown by the words Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi in the said map.

It is further clarified that even though all the three parties are declared to have one third share each, however if while allotting exact portions some minor adjustment in the share is to be made then the same will be made and the adversely affected party may be compensated by allotting some portion of the adjoining land which has been acquired by the Central Government.

The parties are at liberty to file their suggestions for actual partition by metes and bounds within three months.

List immediately after filing of any suggestion/ application for preparation of final decree after obtaining necessary instructions from Hon'ble the Chief Justice.

Status quo as prevailing till date pursuant to Supreme Court judgment of Ismail Farooqui (1994(6) Sec 360) in all its minutest details shall be maintained for a period of three months unless this order is modified or vacated earlier.? Justice Sudhir Agarwal partly decreed Suits 1 and 5. Suits 3 and 4 were dismissed as being barred by limitation. The learned judge concluded with the following directions:

4566... (i) It is declared that the area covered by the central dome of the three domed structure, i.e., the disputed structure being the deity of Bhagwan Ram Janamsthan and place of birth of Lord Rama as per faith and belief of the Hindus, belong to plaintiffs (Suit-5) and shall not be obstructed or interfered in any manner by the defendants. This area is shown by letters AA BB CC DD in Appendix 7 to this judgment.

(ii) The area within the inner courtyard denoted by letters B C D L K J H G in Appendix 7 (excluding (i) above) belong to members of both the communities, i.e., Hindus (here plaintiffs, Suit-5) and Muslims since it was being used by both since decades and centuries. It is, however, made clear that for the purpose of share of plaintiffs, Suit-5 under this direction the area which is covered by (i) above shall also be included.

(iii) The area covered by the structures, namely, Ram Chabutra, (EE FF GG HH in Appendix 7) Sita Rasoi (MM NN OO PP in Appendix 7) and Bhandar (II JJ KK LL in Appendix 7) in the outer courtyard is declared in the share of Nirmohi Akhara (defendant no. 3) and they shall be entitled to possession thereof in the absence of any person with better title.

(iv) The open area within the outer courtyard (A G H J K L E F in Appendix 7) (except that covered by (iii) above) shall be shared by Nirmohi Akhara (defendant no. 3) and plaintiffs (Suit-5) since it has been generally used by the Hindu people for worship at both places.

(iv-a) It is however made clear that the share of muslim parties shall not be less than one third (1/3) of the total area of the premises and if necessary it may be given some area of outer courtyard. It is also made clear that while making partition by metes and bounds, if some minor adjustments are to be made with respect to the share of different parties, the affected party may be compensated by allotting the requisite land from the area which is under acquisition of the Government of India.

(v) The land which is available with the Government of India acquired under Ayodhya Act 1993 for providing it to the parties who are successful in the suit for better enjoyment of the property shall be made available to the above concerned parties in such manner so that all the three parties may utilise the area to which they are entitled to, by having separate entry for egress and ingress of the people without disturbing each others rights. For this purpose the concerned parties may approach the Government of India who shall act in accordance with the above directions and also as contained in the judgement of Apex Court in Dr. Ismail Farooqi (Supra).

(vi) A decree, partly preliminary and partly final, to the effect as said above (i to v) is passed. Suit-5 is decreed in part to the above extent. The parties are at liberty to file their suggestions for actual partition of the property in dispute in the manner as directed above by metes and bounds by submitting an application to this effect to the Officer on Special Duty, Ayodhya Bench at Lucknow or the Registrar, Lucknow Bench, Lucknow, as the case may be.

(vii) For a period of three months or unless directed otherwise, whichever is earlier, the parties shall maintain status quo as on today in respect of property in dispute.? Justice D V Sharma decreed Suit 5 in its entirety. Suits 3 and 4 were dismissed as being barred by limitation. Justice D V Sharma concluded:

Plaintiff‘s suit is decreed but with easy costs. It is hereby declared that the entire premises of Sri Ram Janm Bhumi at Ayodhya as described and delineated in annexure Nos. 1 and 2 of the plaint belong to the plaintiff Nos. 1 and 2, the deities. The defendants are permanently restrained from interfering with, or raising any objection to, or placing any obstruction in the construction of the temple at Ram Janm Bhumi Ayodhya at the site, referred to in the plaint.?

The parties preferred multiple Civil Appeals and Special Leave Petitions before this Court against the judgment of the High Court. Proceedings before this Court

29. On 9 May 2011, a two judge Bench of this 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 in accordance with the directions issued in Ismail Faruqui. The Registry of this Court was directed to provide parties electronic copies of the digitised records.

30. On 10 September 2013, 24 February 2014, 31 October 2015 and 11 August 2017, this 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. On 10 August 2015, a three judge Bench of this Court allowed the Commissioner, Faizabad Division to replace the old and worn out tarpaulin sheets over the makeshift structure under which the idols were placed with new sheets of the same size and quality.

31. On 5 December 2017, a three judge Bench of this 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. On 14 March 2018, a three judge Bench heard arguments on whether the judgment in Ismail Faruqui required reconsideration. On 27 September 2018, the three judge Bench of this 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.

32. By an administrative order dated 8 January 2019 made pursuant to the provisions of Order VI Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, the Chief Justice of India constituted a five judge Bench to hear the appeals. On 10 January 2019, the Registry was directed to inspect the records and if required, engage official translators. On 26 February 2019, this 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. On 8 March 2019, a panel of mediators comprising of (i) Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, a former Judge of this Court; (ii) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; and (iii) Mr Sriram Panchu, Senior Advocate was constituted. Time granted to the mediators to complete the mediation proceedings was extended on 10 May 2019. Since no settlement had been reached, on 2 August 2019, the hearing of the appeals was directed to commence from 6 August 2019. During the course of hearing, a report was submitted by the panel of mediators that some of the parties desired to settle the dispute. This Court by its order dated 18 September 2019 observed that while the hearings will proceed, if any parties desired to settle the dispute, it was open for them to move the mediators and place a settlement, if it was arrived at, before this Court. Final arguments were concluded in the batch of appeals on 16 October 2019. On the same day, the mediation panel submitted a report titled ?Final Report of the Committee? stating that a settlement had been arrived at by some of the parties to the present dispute. The settlement was signed by Mr Zufar Ahmad Faruqi, Chairman of the Sunni Central Waqf Board. Though under the settlement, the Sunni Central Waqf Board agreed to relinquish all its rights, interests and claims over the disputed land, this was subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions stipulated. The settlement agreement received by this Court from the mediation panel has not been agreed to or signed by all the parties to the present dispute. Moreover, it is only conditional on certain stipulations being fulfilled. Hence, the settlement cannot be treated to be a binding or concluded agreement between the parties to the dispute. We, however, record our appreciation of the earnest efforts made by the members of the mediation panel in embarking on the task entrusted by this Court. In bringing together the disputants on a common platform for a free and frank dialogue, the mediators have performed a function which needs to be commended. We also express our appreciation of the parties who earnestly made an effort to pursue the mediation proceedings. B. An overview of the suits

33. Before examining the various contentions of the parties before this Court, we first record the procedural history, substantive claims and reliefs prayed for in the pleadings of the three Suits before this Court. Suit 1 - OOS No 1 of 1989 (Regular Suit 2 of 1950)

34. The suit was instituted on 13 January 1950 by Gopal Singh Visharad, a resident of Ayodhya in his capacity as a ?follower of Sanatan Dharm? seeking:

(i) A declaration of his entitlement to worship and seek the darshan of Lord Ram, ?according to religion and custom? at the Janmabhumi temple without hindrance; and

(ii) A permanent and perpetual injunction restraining defendant nos 1 to 10 from removing the idols of the deity and other idols from the place where they were installed; from closing the way leading to the idols; or interfering in worship and darshan. Defendant nos 1 to 5 are Muslim residents of Ayodhya; defendant no 6 is the State of Uttar Pradesh; defendant no 7 is the Deputy Commissioner of Faizabad; defendant no 8 is the Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad; defendant no 9 is the Superintendent of Police, Faizabad; defendant no 10 is the Sunni Central Waqf Board and defendant no 11 is the Nirmohi Akhara. The case of the plaintiff in Suit 1 is that, as a resident of Ayodhya, he was worshipping the idol of Lord Ram and Charan Paduka (foot impressions) ?in that place of Janambhumi?. The boundaries of the ?disputed place‘ as described in the plaint are as follows:

Disputed place: East: Store and Chabutra of Ram Janam Bhumi West: Parti North: Sita Rasoi South: Parti.?

The cause of action for Suit 1 is stated to have arisen on 14 January 1950, when the employees of the government are alleged to have unlawfully prevented the plaintiff ?from going inside the place? and exercising his right of worship. It was alleged that the ?State? adopted this action at the behest of the Muslim residents represented by defendant nos 1 to 5, as a result of which the Hindus were stated to been deprived of their ?legitimate right of worship?. The plaintiff apprehended that the idols, including the idol of Lord Ram, would be removed. These actions were alleged to constitute a ?direct attack on the right and title of the plaintiff? and were stated to be an ?oppressive act?, contrary to law.

35. Denying the allegations contained in the plaint, defendant nos 1 to 5 stated in their written statements that:

(i) The property in respect of which the case has been instituted is not Janmabhumi but a mosque constructed by Emperor Babur. The mosque was built in 1528 on the instructions of Emperor Babur by Mir Baqi, who was the Commander of Babur‘s forces, following the conquest of the sub-continent by the Mughal emperor;

(ii) The mosque was dedicated as a waqf for Muslims, who have a right to worship there. Emperor Babur laid out annual grants for the maintenance and expenditure of the mosque, which were continued and enhanced by the Nawab of Awadh and the British Government;

(iii) The Suit of 1885 was a suit for declaration of ownership by Mahant Raghubar Das only in respect of the Ramchabutra and hence the claim that the entire building represented the Janmasthan was baseless. As a consequence of the dismissal of the Suit on 24 December 1885, ?the case respecting the Chabutra was not entertained?;

(iv) The Chief Commissioner Waqf appointed under the U.P. Muslim Waqf Act 1936 had held the mosque to be a Sunni Waqf;

(v) Muslims have always been in possession of the mosque. This position began in 1528 and continued thereafter, and consequently, ?Muslims are in possession of that property ... by way of an adverse possession?;

(vi) Namaz had been offered at Babri Masjid until 16 December 1949 at which point there were no idols under the central dome. If any person had placed any idol inside the mosque with a mala fide intent, ?the degradation of the mosque is evident and the accused persons are liable to be prosecuted?;

(vii) Any attempt of the plaintiff or any other person to enter the mosque to offer worship or for darshan would violate the law. Proceedings under Section 145 of the CrPC 1898 had been initiated; and

(viii) The present suit claiming Babri Masjid as the place of the Janmasthan is without basis as there exists, for quite long, another temple with idols of Lord Ram and others, which is the actual place of the Janmasthan of Lord Ram.

A written statement was filed by the defendant no 6, the State, submitting that:

(i) The property in suit known as Babri Masjid has been used as a mosque for the purpose of worship by Muslims for a long period and has not been used as a temple of Lord Ram;

(ii) On the night of 22 December 1949, the idols of Lord Ram were surreptitiously placed inside the mosque imperilling public peace and tranquillity. On 23 December 1949, the City Magistrate passed an order under Section 144 of CrPC 1898 which was followed by an order of the same date passed by the Additional City Magistrate under Section 145 attaching the disputed property. These orders were passed to maintain public peace; and

(iii) The City Magistrate appointed Shri Priya Datt Ram, Chairman, Municipal Board, Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya as a receiver of the property. Similar written statements were filed by defendant no 8, the Additional City Magistrate and defendant no 9, the Superintendent of Police. Defendant no 10, the Sunni Central Waqf Board filed its written statement stating:

(i) The building in dispute is not the Janmasthan of Lord Ram and no idols were ever installed in it;

(ii) The property in the suit was a mosque known as the Babri mosque constructed during the regime of Emperor Babur who had laid out annual grants for its maintenance and expenditure and they were continued and enhanced by the Nawab of Awadh and the British Government;

(iii) On the night of 22-23 December 1949, the idols were surreptitiously brought into the mosque;

(iv) The Muslims alone had remained in possession of the mosque from 1528 up to the date of the attachment of the mosque under Section 145 on 29 December 1949. They had regularly offered prayers up to 21 December 1949 and Friday prayers up to 16 December 1949;

(v) The mosque had the character of a waqf and its ownership vested in God;

(vi) The plaintiff was estopped from claiming the mosque as the Janmabhumi of Lord Ram as the claim in the Suit of 1885 instituted by Mahant Raghubar Das (described to be the plaintiff‘s predecessor) had been confined only to the Ramchabutra measuring seventeen by twenty-one feet outside the mosque; and

(vii) There already existed a Ram Janmasthan Mandir, a short distance away from Babri Masjid.

In the plaintiff‘s replication to the written statement of defendant nos 1 to 5, it was averred that the disputed site has never been used as a mosque since 1934. It was further stated that it was ?common knowledge? that Hindus have been in continuous possession by virtue of which the claim of the defendants has ceased.

Suit 3 - OOS no 3 of 1989 (Regular Suit no 26 of 1959)

36. The suit was instituted on 17 December 1959 by Nirmohi Akhara through Mahant Jagat Das seeking a decree for the removal of the receiver from the management and charge of the Janmabhumi temple and for delivering it to the plaintiff.

Defendant no 1 in Suit 3 is the receiver; defendant no 2 is the State of Uttar Pradesh; defendant no 3 is the Deputy Commissioner, Faizabad; defendant no 4 is the City Magistrate, Faizabad; defendant no 5 is the Superintendent of Police, Faizabad; defendant nos 6 to 8 are Muslim residents of Ayodhya; defendant no 9 is the Sunni Central Waqf Board and defendant no 10 is Umesh Chandra Pandey.

The cause of action is stated to have arisen on 5 January 1950 when the management and charge of the Janmabhumi temple was taken away by the City Magistrate and entrusted to the receiver. Nirmohi Akhara pleaded that:

(i) There exists in Ayodhya ?since the days of yore? an ancient Math or Akhara of Ramanandi Bairagis called the Nirmohis. This is a religious establishment of a public character;

(ii) The Janmasthan, commonly known as Janmabhumi, is the birth-place of Lord Ram and belongs to and has always been managed by Nirmohi Akhara;

(iii) The Janmasthan is of ancient antiquity lying within the boundaries shown by the letters A B C D in the sketch map appended to the plaint within which stands the ?temple building? marked by the letters E F G K P N M L E. The building denoted by the letters E F G H I J K L E is the main Janmabhumi temple, where the idols of Lord Ram with Lakshman, Hanuman and Saligram have been installed. The temple building has been in the possession of Nirmohi Akhara and only Hindus have been allowed to enter the temple and make offerings such as money, sweets, flowers and fruits. Nirmohi Akhara has been receiving these offerings through its pujaris;

(iv) Nirmohi Akhara is a Panchayati Math of the Ramanandi sect of Bairagis which is a religious denomination. The customs of Nirmohi Akhara have been reduced to writing by a registered deed dated 19 March 1949;

(v) Nirmohi Akhara owns and manages several temples;

(vi) No Mohammedan has been allowed to enter the temple building since 1934; and

(vii) Acting under the provisions of Section 145 of the CrPC 1898, the City Magistrate placed the main temple and all the articles in it under the charge of the first defendant as receiver on 5 January 1950. As a consequence, the plaintiffs have been wrongfully deprived of the management and charge of the temple. 37. In the written statement filed on behalf of defendant nos 6 to 8, Muslim residents of Ayodhya, it was stated that Babri Masjid was constructed by Emperor Babur in 1528 and has been constituted as a waqf, entitling Muslims to offer prayers. Moreover, it was submitted that:

(i) The Suit of 1885 by Raghubar Mahant Das was confined to Ramchabutra and has been dismissed by the Sub-Judge, Faizabad;

(ii) The property of the mosque was constituted as a waqf under the U.P. Muslim Waqf Act 1936;

(iii) Muslims have been in continuous possession of the mosque since 1528 as a consequence of which all the rights of the plaintiffs have been extinguished;

(iv) On the eastern and northern sides of the mosque, there are Muslim graves;

(v) Namaz was continuously offered in the property until 16 December 1949 and the character of the mosque will not stand altered if an idol has been installed surreptitiously; and

(vi) There is another temple at Ayodhya which is known as the Janmasthan temple of Lord Ram which has been in existence for a long time.

The plaint was amended to incorporate the averment that on 6 December 1992 'the main temple was demolished by some miscreants who had no religion, caste or creed'.

In the replication filed by Nirmohi Akhara to the joint written statement of defendant nos 6 to 8, the existence of a separate Janmasthan temple was denied. It was stated that the Janmasthan temple is situated to the North of the Janmabhumi temple.

A written statement was filed in the suit by Defendant no 9, the Sunni Central Waqf Board denying the allegations. In the written statement filed by defendant no 10, Umesh Chandra Pandey, it was submitted:

(i) The Janmasthan is a ?holy place of worship? and belongs to the deity of Shri Ram Lalla Virajman for a long period of time. The temple is possessed and owned by the deity. Lord Ram is the principal deity of Ram Janmabhumi;

(ii) Nirmohi Akhara has never managed the Janmasthan;

(iii) In 1857, the British Government attempted to divide the building by creating an inner enclosure and describing the boundary within it as a mosque but no ?true Muslim? could have offered prayers there;

(iv) The presence of Kasauti pillars and the carvings of Gods and Goddess on the pillars indicated that the place could not be used by a ?true Muslim? for offering prayers;

(v) The place was virtually landlocked by a Hindu temple in which worship of the deity took place;

(vi) The Suit of the Nirmohi Akhara was barred by limitation having been instituted in 1959, though the cause of action arose on 5 January 1950; and

(vii) Nirmohi Akhara did not join the proceedings under Section 145 nor did they file a revision against the order passed by the Additional City Magistrate.

In the replication filed by Nirmohi Akhara to the written statement of defendant no 10, there was a detailed account of the founding of the denomination. Following the tradition of Shankaracharya since the seventh century CE, the practice of setting up Maths was followed by Ramanujacharya and later, by Ramanand. Ramanand founded a sect of Vaishnavs known as ?Ramats‘, who worship Lord Ram. The spiritual preceptors of the Ramanandi sect of Bairagis established three ?annis‘ namely, the (i) Nirmohi; (ii) Digamber; and (iii) Nirwani Akharas. These Akharas are Panchayati Maths. Nirmohi Akhara owns the Ram Janmasthan temple which is associated with the birth-place of Lord Ram. The outer enclosure was owned and managed by Nirmohi Akhara until the proceedings under Section 145 were instituted.

Suit 4 - OOS 4 of 1989 (Regular Suit no 12 of 1961)

38. Suit 4 was instituted on 18 December 1961 by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and nine Muslim residents of Ayodhya. It has been averred that the suit has been instituted on behalf of the entire Muslim community together with an application under Order I Rule 8 of the CPC. As amended, the following reliefs have been sought in the plaint:

(a) A declaration to the effect that the property indicated by letters A B C D in the sketch map attached to the plaint is public mosque commonly known as ?Babari Masjid‘ and that the land adjoining the mosque shown in the sketch map by letters E F G H is a public Muslim graveyard as specified in para 2 of the plaint may be decreed. (b) That in case in the opinion of the Court delivery of possession is deemed to be the proper remedy, a decree for delivery of possession of the mosque and graveyard in suit by removal of the idols and other articles which the Hindus may have placed in the mosque as objects of their worship be passed in plaintiff‘s favour, against the defendants.

(bb) That the statutory Receiver be commanded to hand over the property in dispute described in Schedule ?A‘ of the Plaint by removing the unauthorized structures erected thereon.? [Note : Prayer (bb) was inserted by an amendment to the plaint pursuant to the order of the High Court dated 25 May 1995]. Defendant no 1 in Suit 4 is Gopal Singh Visharad; defendant no 2 is Ram Chander Dass Param Hans; defendant no 3 is Nirmohi Akhara; defendant no 4 is Mahant Raghunath Das; defendant no 5 is the State of U.P.; defendant no 6 is the Collector, Faizabad; defendant no 7 is the City Magistrate, Faizabad; defendant no 8 is the Superintendent of Police of Faizabad; defendant no 9 is Priyadutt Ram; defendant no 10 is the President, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha; defendant no 13 is Dharam Das; defendant no 17 is Ramesh Chandra Tripathi; and defendant no 20 is Madan Mohan Gupta. The suit is based on the averment that in Ayodhya, there is an ancient historic mosque known commonly as Babri Masjid which was constructed by Babur more than 433 years ago following his conquest of India and the occupation of its territories. It has been averred that the mosque was built for the use of the Muslims in general as a place of worship and for the performance of religious ceremonies. The main construction of the mosque is depicted by the letters A B C D on the plan annexed to the plaint. Adjoining the land is a graveyard. According to the plaintiffs, both the mosque and the graveyard vest in the Almighty and since the construction of the mosque, it has been used by the Muslims for offering prayers while the graveyard has been used for burial. The plaint alleged that outside the main building of the mosque, Hindu worship was being conducted at a Chabutra admeasuring 17x21 feet on which there was a small wooden structure in the form of a tent. The plaint contains a recital of the Suit of 1885 by Mahant Raghubhar Das for permission to construct a temple on the Chabutra which was dismissed. The plaintiffs in Suit 4 contend that the Mahant sued on behalf of himself, the Janmasthan and all persons interested in it, and the decision operates as res judicata as the matter directly and substantially in issue was the existence of the Babri Masjid, and the rights of the Hindus to construct a temple on the land adjoining the mosque. According to the plaintiffs, assuming without admitting that there existed a Hindu temple as alleged by the defendants on the site of which the mosque was built 433 years ago by Emperor Babur, the Muslims by virtue of their long exclusive and continuous possession commencing from the construction of the mosque and ensuing until its desecration perfected their title by adverse possession. The plaint then proceeds to make a reference to the proceedings under Section 145 of CrPC 1898. As a result of the order of injunction in Suit 2 of 1950, Hindus have been permitted to perform puja of the idols placed within the mosque but Muslims have been prevented from entering. According to the plaintiffs, the cause of action for the suit arose on 23 December 1949 when the Hindus are alleged to have wrongfully entered the mosque and desecrated it by placing idols inside the mosque. The injuries are claimed to be continuing in nature. As against the state, the cause of action is alleged to have arisen on 29 December 1949 when the property was attached by the City Magistrate who handed over possession to the receiver. The receiver assumed charge on 5 January 1950.

The reliefs which have been claimed in the suit are based on the above averments. Essentially, the case of the plaintiffs proceeds on the plea that

(i) The mosque was constructed by Babur 433 years prior to the suit as a place of public worship and has been continuously used by Muslims for offering prayers; and

(ii) Even assuming that there was an underlying temple which was demolished to give way for the construction of the mosque, the Muslims have perfected their title by adverse possession. On this foundation, the plaintiffs claim a declaration of title and, in the event that such a prayer is required, a decree for possession.

39. In the written statement filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, the first defendant (who is also the plaintiff in Suit 1), it has been stated that if the Muslims were in possession of the mosque, it ceased in 1934. The Hindus claim to be in possession after 1934 and their possession is stated to have ripened into adverse possession. According to the written statement, no prayers were offered in the mosque since 1934. Moreover, no individual Hindu or Mahant can be said to represent the entire Hindu community. Hindu puja is stated to be continuing inside the structure, which is described as a temple since 1934 and admittedly since January 1950, following the order of the City Magistrate. In an additional written statement, a plea has been taken that the UP Muslim Waqf Act 1936 is ultra vires. It has been averred that any determination under the Act cannot operate to decide a question of title against non-Muslims. In a subsequent written statement, it has been stated that Hindus have worshipped the site of the Janmabhumi since time immemorial; the Muslims were never in possession of the Janmabhumi temple and, if they were in possession, it ceased in 1934. The suit is alleged to be barred by limitation.

As regards the Suit of 1885, it has been submitted that the plaintiff was not suing in a representative capacity and was only pursuing his personal interest. The written statement of Nirmohi Akhara denies the existence of a mosque. Nirmohi Akhara states that it was unaware of any suit filed by Mahant Raghubar Das. According to it, a mosque never existed at the site and hence there was no occasion for the Muslim community to offer prayers till 23 December 1949. It is urged that what the property described as Babri mosque is and has always been a temple of Janmabhumi with idols of Hindu Gods installed within. According to the written statement, the temple on Ramchabutra had been judicially recognised in the Suit of 1885. It was urged that the Janmabhumi temple was always in the possession of Nirmohi Akhara and none else but the Hindus were allowed to enter and offer worship. The offerings are stated to have been received by the representative of Nirmohi Akhara. After the attachment, only the pujaris of Nirmohi Akhara are claimed to have been offering puja to the idols in the temple. The written statement contains a denial of Muslim worship in the structure at least since 1934 and it is urged that Suit 4 is barred by limitation. In the additional written statement, Nirmohi Akhara has denied that the findings in the Suit of 1885 operate as res judicata. There is a denial of the allegation that the Muslims have perfected their title by adverse possession.

The State of Uttar Pradesh filed its written statement to the effect that the government is not interested in the property in dispute and does not propose to contest the suit.

In the written statement filed on behalf of the tenth defendant, Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha, it has been averred that upon India regaining independence, there is a revival of the original Hindu law as a result of which the plaintiffs cannot claim any legal or constitutional right. In an additional written statement, the tenth defendant denies the incident of 22 December 1949 and claims that the idols were in existence at the place in question from time immemorial. According to the written statement, the site is the birth-place of Lord Ram and no mosque could have been constructed at the birth-place.

The written statement by Abhiram Das and by Dharam Das, who claims to be his chela, questions the validity of the construction of a mosque at the site of Ram Janmabhumi. According to the written statement, the site is landlocked and surrounded by places of Hindu worship and hence such a building cannot be a valid mosque in Muslim law. The written statement contains a denial of a valid waqf on the ground that a waqf cannot be based on adverse possession.

According to the written statement, at Ram Janmabhumi there was an ancient temple tracing back to the rule of Vikramaditya which was demolished by Mir Baqi. It has been averred that Ram Janmabhumi is indestructible as the deity is divine and immortal. In spite of the construction of the mosque, it has been submitted, the area has continued to be in the possession of the deities and no one could enter the three domed structure except after passing through Hindu places of worship. The written statements filed by the other Hindu defendants broadly follow similar lines. Replications were filed to the written statements of the Hindu parties.

Suit 5 – OOS no 5 of 1989 (Regular Suit no 236 of 1989) 40. The suit was instituted on 1 July 1989 claiming the following reliefs:

(A) A declaration that the entire premises of Sri Rama Janma Bhumi at Ayodhya, as described and delineated in Annexure I, II and III belongs to the plaintiff Deities.

(B) A perpetual injunction against the Defendants prohibiting them from interfering with, or raising any objection to, or placing any obstruction in the construction of the new Temple building at Sri Rama Janma Bhumi, Ayodhya, after demolishing and removing the existing buildings and structures etc., situate thereat, in so far as it may be necessary or expedient to do so for the said purpose.?

This suit has been instituted in the name of ?Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman at Sri Ram Janmabhumi, Ayodhya also called Bhagwan Sri Ram Lalla Virajman?. The deity so described is the first plaintiff. The second plaintiff is described as ?Asthan Sri Rama Janambhumi, Ayodhya?. Both the plaintiffs were represented by Sri Deoki Nandan Agrawala, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court as next friend. The next friend of the first and second plaintiffs is impleaded as the third plaintiff.

The defendants to the suit include:

(i) Nirmohi Akhara which is the Plaintiff in Suit 3;

(ii) Sunni Central Waqf Board, the Plaintiff in Suit 4;

(iii) Hindu and Muslim residents of Ayodhya; and

(iv) The State of Uttar Pradesh, the Collector and Senior Superintendent of Police.

Several other Hindu entities including the All India Hindu Mahasabha and a Trust described as the Sri Ram Janmabhumi Trust, are parties to the Suit as is the Shia Central Board of Waqfs.

The principal averments in Suit 5 are that:

(i) The first and second plaintiffs are juridical persons: Lord Ram is the presiding deity of the place and the place is itself a symbol of worship;

(ii) The identification of Ram Janmabhumi, for the purpose of the plaint is based on the site plans of the building, premises and adjacent area prepared by Sri Shiv Shankar Lal, who was appointed as Commissioner by the Civil Judge at Faizabad in Suit 1 of 1950;

(iii) The plaint contains a reference to the earlier suits instituted before the Civil Court and that the religious ceremonies for attending to the deities have been looked after by the receiver appointed in the proceedings under Section 145. Although seva and puja of the deity have been conducted, darshan for the devotees is allowed only from behind a barrier;

(iv) Alleging that offerings to the deity have been misappropriated, it has been stated that the devotees desired to have a new temple constructed ?after removing the old structure at Sri Ram Janmabhumi at Ayodhya?. A Deed of Trust was constituted on 18 December 1985 for the purpose of managing the estate and affairs of the Janmabhumi;

(v) Though both the presiding deity of Lord Ram and Ram Janmabhumi are claimed to be juridical persons with a distinct personality, neither of them was impleaded as a party to the earlier suits. As a consequence, the decrees passed in those suits will not bind the deities;

(vi) Public records establish that Lord Ram was born and manifested himself in human form as an incarnation of Vishnu at the premises in dispute;

(vii) The place itself – Ram Janmasthan - is an object of worship since it personifies the divine spirit worshipped in the form of Lord Ram. Both the deity and the place of birth thus possess a juridical character. Hindus worship the spirit of the divine and not its material form in the shape of an idol. This spirit which is worshipped is indestructible. Representing this spirit, Ram Janmabhumi as a place is worshipped as a deity and is hence a juridical person;

(viii) The actual and continuous performance of puja of ?an immovable deity? by its devotees is not essential for its existence since the deity represented by the land is indestructible;

(ix) There was an ancient temple during the reign of Vikramaditya at Ram Janmabhumi. The temple was partly destroyed and an attempt was made to raise a mosque by Mir Baqi, a Commander of Emperor Babur. Most of the material utilised to construct the mosque was obtained from the temple including its Kasauti pillars with Hindu Gods and Goddesses carved on them;

(x) The 1928 edition of the Faizabad Gazetteer records that during the course of his conquest in 1528, Babur destroyed the ancient temple and on its site a mosque was built. In 1855, there was a dispute between Hindus and Muslims. The gazetteer records that after the dispute, an outer enclosure was placed in front of the mosque as a consequence of which access to the inner courtyard was prohibited to the Hindus. As a result, they made their offerings on a platform in the outer courtyard;

(xi) The place belongs to the deities and no valid waqf was ever created or could have been created;

(xii) The structure which was raised upon the destruction of the ancient temple, utilising the material of the temple does not constitute a mosque. Despite the construction of the mosque, Ram Janmabhumi did not cease to be in possession of the deity which has continued to be worshipped by devotees through various symbols;

(xiii) The building of the mosque could be accessed only by passing through the adjoining places of Hindu worship. Hence, at Ram Janmabhumi, the worship of the deities has continued through the ages;

(xiv) No prayers have been offered in the mosque after 1934. During the night intervening 22-23 December 1949, idols of Lord Ram were installed with due ceremony under the central dome. At that stage, acting on an FIR, proceedings were initiated by the Additional City Magistrate under Section 145 of the CrPC and a preliminary order was passed on 29 December 1949. A receiver was appointed, in spite of which the possession of the plaintiff deities was not disturbed;

(xv) The plaintiffs, were not a party to any prior litigation and are hence not bound by the outcome of the previous proceedings; and

(xvi) The Ram Janmabhumi at Ayodhya which contains, besides the presiding deity, other idols and deities along with its appertaining properties constitutes one integral complex with a single identity. The claim of the Muslims is confined to the area enclosed within the inner boundary wall, erected after the annexation of Oudh by the British. The plaint contains a description of the demolition of the structure of the mosque on 6 December 1992 and the developments which have taken place thereafter including the promulgation of an Ordinance and subsequently, a law enacted by the Parliament for acquisition of the land.

41. In the written statement filed by Nirmohi Akhara, it has been stated that:

(i) The idol of Lord Ram has been installed not at Ram Janmabhumi but in the Ram Janmabhumi temple. Nirmohi Akhara has instituted a suit seeking charge and management of Ram Janmabhumi temple;

(ii) While the birth-place of Lord Ram is not in dispute, it is the Ram Janmabhumi temple which is in dispute. The Muslims claim it to be a mosque while Nirmohi Akhara claims it to be a temple under its charge and management. Ram Janmabhumi temple is situated at ?Asthan Ram Janmabhumi? (the birth-place of Lord Ram), Mohalla Ram Kot at Ayodhya;

(iii) Nirmohi Akhara is the Shebait of the idol of Lord Ram installed in the temple in dispute and has the exclusive right to repair and reconstruct the temple, if necessary; and

(iv) ?Ram Janmabhumi Asthan? is not a juridical person. The plaintiffs of suit 5 have no real title to sue. The entire premises belong to Nirmohi Akhara, the answering defendant. Hence, according to the written statement the plaintiffs have no right to seek a declaration.

According to the written statement of the Sunni Central Waqf Board:

(i) Neither the first nor the second plaintiffs are juridical persons;

(ii) There is no presiding deity of Lord Ram at the place in dispute;

(iii) The idols were surreptitiously placed inside the mosque on the night of 22-23 December 1949. There is neither any presiding deity nor a Janmasthan;

(iv) The Suit of 1885 was instituted by Mahant Raghubar Das in his capacity as Mahant of the Janmasthan of Ayodhya seeking permission to establish

a temple over a platform or Chabutra. The mosque was depicted in the site plan on the western side of the Chabutra. The suit was instituted on behalf of other Mahants and Hindus of Ayodhya and Faizabad. The suit was dismissed. The first and second appeals were also rejected. Since the claim in the earlier suit was confined only to the Chabutra admeasuring seventeen by twenty-one feet outside the mosque, the claim in the present suit is barred;

(v) There exists another temple known as the Janmasthan temple situated at a distance of less than one hundred yards from Babri Masjid;

(vi) The mosque was not constructed on the site of an existing temple or upon its destruction;

(vii) During the regime of Emperor Babur the land belonged to the State and the mosque was constructed on vacant land which did not belong to any person;

(viii) The structure has always been used as a mosque ever since its construction during the regime of Emperor Babur, who was a Sunni Muslim;

(ix) The possession of Muslims was uninterrupted and continuous since the construction of the mosque, until 22 December 1949. Therefore, any alleged right to the contrary is deemed to have been extinguished by adverse possession;

(x) Prayers were offered in the mosque five times every day, regularly until 22 December 1949 and Friday prayers were offered until 16 December 1949;

(xi) On 22-23 December 1949, some Bairagis forcibly entered into the mosque and placed an idol below the central dome. This came to the knowledge of Muslims who attended the mosque for prayers on 23 December 1949 after which proceedings were initiated under Section 145 of the CrPC 1898. The possession of the building has remained with the receiver from 5 January 1950;

(xii) The third plaintiff in Suit 5 could have got himself impleaded as a party to the suit instituted by the Sunni Central Waqf Board. Having failed to do so the third plaintiff cannot maintain Suit 5 as the next friend of the deities;

(xiii) The third plaintiff has never been associated with the management and puja of the idols and cannot claim himself to be the next friend of Lord Ram;

(xiv) There is no presiding deity as represented by the first plaintiff and it is incorrect to say that the footsteps (?charan?) and other structures constitute one integral complex with a single identity;

(xv) The concept of a mosque envisages that the entire area below as well as above the land remains dedicated to God. Hence, it is not merely the structure of the mosque alone but also the land on which it stands which is dedicated to the Almighty, Allah;

(xvi) The site in question has no connection with the place of birth of Lord Ram and has no significance to the alleged ?Asthan? of Ram Janmabhumi;

(xvii) The cause of action for the suit is deemed to have accrued in December 1949 when the property was attached and when the Muslims categorically denied the claim of the Hindus to perform puja in the mosque. Hence, the suit is barred by limitation;

(xviii) The subject matter of the suit is property registered as a waqf which is maintained by the Sunni Central Waqf Board under Section 30 of the U P Muslim Waqf Act 1960, shown as such in the revenue records; and

(xix) Archaeological experts seem to indicate that there appears to be no sign of human habitation predating to 700 B.C. nor is there any evidence that a fort, palace or old temple existed at the site of Babri Masjid.

In the written statement filed on behalf of defendant no 5 who is a Muslim resident of Ayodhya, it has been submitted that:

(i) The premises have always been a mosque since the construction in the sixteenth century and have been used only for the purposes of offering namaz;

(ii) The existence of Kasauti pillars is denied. No one else except the Muslims worshipped in Babri Masjid. Namaz was offered in the mosque since its construction until 22 December 1949;

(iii) Babri Masjid was not constructed on the site of a temple which was demolished at the behest of Emperor Babur;

(iii) The Ram Janmasthan Mandir which exists in Ayodhya is distinct and separate from the premises in question; and

(iv) The findings in the Suit of 1885 operate as res judicata.

An additional written statement was filed on behalf of defendant nos 4 and 5 in order to deal with the amendments to the plaint consequent upon the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992.

The written statement of defendant no 6, a Muslim resident of Ayodhya, adopts the written statement of defendant no 5. The written statement of defendant no 11, the President of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, has submitted to a decree in terms as sought in the plaint. The written statements filed by the Hindu and Muslim defendants follow broadly the same respective lines.

42. A written statement has been filed by defendant no 24, Prince Anjum Qader stating thus:

(a) The spot being presently claimed by the plaintiff is being made known as Ram Janam Bhoomi only since 22.12.1949.

(b) The Ram Chabutra, in the court-yard outside the Babri Masjid structure, is being known as Ram Janam Bhoomi only since 1885.

(c) The Janamsthan site Rasoi Mandir, facing the Babri Masjid across the street, is traditionally known as Ramjanambhumi since time immemorial.?

According to defendant no 24:

(i) In 1855, a spot outside the structure of Babri Masjid in a corner of the courtyard was claimed as the Janmasthan. At that stage, an area admeasuring seventeen by twenty-one feet was partitioned by naming it as Ramchabutra;

(ii) On 22 December 1949, the Janmasthan claim was shifted from Ramchabutra to a place inside the mosque beneath the main dome of the Babri Masjid;

(iii) Prior to 1855, ?the undisputed Ram Janmasthan was the old Janmasthan Sita Rasoi Mandir across the street on a mound facing the Babri Masjid?;

(iv) According to defendant no 24, the following three sites are now believed to be probable places of the birth of Lord Ram, namely:

(a) Inside the Babri Masjid beneath the main dome since 1949;

(b) At Ramchabutra in the courtyard of the Babri Masjid since 1855; and

(c) At the old Ram Janmasthan Mandir where Sita Rasoi is also situated.

(v) While the 1928 edition of the Faizabad Gazetteer published by the British Government contains a narration of Emperor Babur halting at Ayodhya for a week, destroying the ancient temple and building the Babri Masjid with the materials of the destroyed temple, it is a fact of history that Babur never came to Ayodhya. The Babur-Nama, a memoir of Emperor Babur has made no mention of visiting Ayodhya, destroying the temple or of building a mosque. Defendant no 24 states that:

'However, after all said and done, it is most respectfully submitted that if only this claim is proved that a Mandir was demolished and Babri Masjid was built on the Mandir land, this defendant and all other Muslims will gladly demolish and shift the mosque, and return the land for building of the Mandir thereon.'

(vi) Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi on vacant land and not on the ruins of a pre-existing temple. Since Mir Baqi was a Shia Muslim, the 'mutawalliship' devolved upon his descendants since inception in 1528 without a break. However, both Shias and Sunnis offered namaz in Babri Masjid. The Sunni Muslims were permitted by the Shia mutawalli to perform their own daily Jamaat in the Masjid since 1925, when the Shia population in Ayodhya dwindled. The Sunni Imam of Babri Masjid led the last namaz on 22 December 1949.

The written statement of defendant no 25 states that:

(i) Babri Masjid has always been in use as a mosque in which the namaz was offered since its construction, until 22 December 1949; and

(ii) On the night between 22-23 December 1949, some persons illegally trespassed into the mosque as a result of which an FIR was lodged and proceedings under Section 145 were initiated. A receiver was appointed and the status quo was directed to be continued during the pendency of the civil suits before the Civil Court.

Heads of issues in the Suits

43. Justice Sudhir Agarwal observed that the issues in the four suits can be broadly classified under the following heads:

(A) Notice under Section 80 C.P.C. (B) Religious denomination (C) Res judicata, waiver and estoppel (D) Waqf Act 13 of 1936 etc. (E) Miscellaneous issues like representative nature of suit, Trust, Section 91 C.P.C., non joinder of parties, valuation/ insufficient Court fee/under valuation and special costs. (F) Person and period- who and when constructed the disputed building (G) Deities, their status, rights etc. (H) Limitation (I) Possession/adverse possession (J) Site as birthplace, existence of temple and demolition if any. (K) Character of Mosque (L) Identity of the property (M) Bar of Specific Relief Act (N) Others, if any.

Evidence: a bird‘s eye view

44. A wealth of material emerged before the court during the course of the trial. The judgment of Justice Sudhir Agarwal in the High Court copiously tabulates the documentary evidence13. The documentary exhibits of the parties during the course of trial comprised of 533 exhibits of which a brief categorisation is:

1. Plaintiffs (Suit-1) – Exhibits No. 1 to 34 (Total 34)

2. Plaintiffs (Suit-3) – Exhibits No. 1 to 21 (Total 21)

3. Plaintiffs (Suit-4) – Exhibits No. 1 to 128 (Total 128)

4. Plaintiffs (Suit-5) – Exhibits No. 1 to 132 (Total 132)

5. Defendants (Suit-1) – Exhibits No. A1 to A72 (Total 73)

6. Defendants (Suit-4) – (i) Exhibits No. A1 to A16 (Total 16)

(ii) Exhibits No. M1 to M7 (Total 7)

(iii) Exhibits No. B1 to B16 (Total 16)

(iv) Exhibits No. J1 to J31 (Total 32)

(v) Exhibits No. T1-T6 (Total 6)

(vi) Exhibit No. V1 (Total 1)

(vii) Exhibits No. Q1 to Q6 (Total 6)

7. Defendants (Suit-5) – (i) Exhibits No. C1 to C11 (Total 11)

(ii) Exhibits No. D1 to D38 (Total 38)

(iii) Exhibits No. E1 to E8 (Total 12) Grand Total - 533 These exhibits broadly comprise of :

(i) Religious texts;

(ii) Travelogues;

(iii) Gazetteers;

(iv) Translations of inscriptions on pillars;

(v) Reports of Archaeological excavation;

(vi) Photographs prior to demolition; and

(vii) Details of artefacts found at the disputed site.

The judgment of Justice Sudhir Agarwal in the High Court tabulates the oral evidence in the four suits under the following heads:

274. (1) Oral Depositions : Parties to these suits produced 88 witnesses, who deposed on one or the other subject. Broadly, these witnesses are categorized as under:

275. (a) Witnesses produced in Suit-4 by Plaintiff : (I) Witness of facts :

1. P.W 1 Sri Mohd. Hashim

2. PW 2 Hazi Mahboob Ahmed

3. PW 3 Farooq Ahmad

4. PW 4 Mohd. Yasin

5. PW 5 Sri Abdul Rehman

6. PW 6 Mohd. Yunus Siddiqui

7. PW 7 Sri Hashmat Ullah Ansari

8. PW 8 Sri Abdul Aziz

9. PW 9 Syeed Akhlak Ahmad

10. PW 10 Mohd. Idris

11. PW11 Mohd. Burhanuddin

12. PW 12 Ram Shanker Upadhyay

13. PW 13 Suresh Chandra Mishra

14. PW 14 Jalil Ahmad

15. PW 21 Dr. M. Hashim Qidwai

16. PW 23 Mohd Qasim Ansari

17. PW 25 Mohd. Sibte Naqvi

(II) Expert Witnesses (Historians)

18. PW 15 Sushil Srivastava

19. PW 18 Prof. Suvira Jaiswal

20. PW 20 Prof. Shirin Musavi

(III) Expert Witnesses (Archaeologists)

21. PW 16 Prof. Suraj Bhan

22. PW 24 Prof. D. Mandal

23. PW 27 Dr. Shereen F. Ratnagar

24. PW 28 Dr. Sita Ram Roy

25. PW 29 Dr. Jaya Menon

26. PW 30 Dr. R. C. Thakran

27. PW 31 Dr. Ashok Datta

28. PW 32 Dr. Supriya Verma

(IV) Private Commissioner

29. PW 17 Zafar Ali Siddiqui

(V) Expert Witnesses (Religious matters)

30. PW 19 Maulana Atiq Ahmad

31. PW 22 Mohd. Khalid Naqui

32. PW 26 Kalbe Jawed

276. (b) Witnesses produced in Suit-5 by Plaintiff :

(I) Witness of facts :

1. OPW 1 Mahant Paramhans Ram Chandra Das

2. OPW 2 Sri D.N. Agarwal

3. OPW 4 Harihar Prasad Tewari

4. OPW 5 Ram Nath Mishra alias Banarsi Panda

5. OPW 6 Hausila Prasad Tripathit

6. OPW 7 Sri Ram Surat Tewari

7. OPW 8 Ashok Chandra Chatterjee

8. OPW 12 Kaushal Kishor Misra

9. OPW 13 Narad Saran

(II) Expert Witnesses (Archaeologists)

10. OPW 3 Dr. S.P. Gupta

11. OPW 14 Dr. Rakesh Tewari

12. OPW 17 Dr. R. Nagaswami

13. OPW 18 Sri Arun Kumar Sharma

14. OPW 19 Sri Rakesh Dutta Trivedi

(III) Expert Witness (Epigraphist and Historian)

15. OPW 9 Dr. T.P. Verma

(IV) Expert Witnesses (Epigraphist)

16. OPW 10 Dr. Voluvyl Vyasarayasastri Ramesh

17. OPW 15 Dr. M.N. Katti

(V) Expert Witnesses (Historians)

18. OPW 11 Dr. Satish Chandra Mittal

(VI) Expert Witnesses (Religious matters)

19. OPW 16 Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Swami Ram Bhadracharya

277. (c) Witnesses produced in Suit-1 by Plaintiff :

(I) Witness of facts :

1. DW 1/1 Sri Rajendra Singh

2. DW 1/2 Sri Krishna Chandra Singh

3. DW 1/3 Sri Sahdeo Prasad Dubey

278. (d) Witnesses produced in Suit-3 of 1989 by Plaintiff:

(I) Witness of facts :

1. DW 3/1 Mahant Bhaskar Das

2. DW 3/2 Sri Raja Ram Pandey

3. DW 3/3 Sri Satya Narain Tripathi

4. DW 3/4 Mahant Shiv Saran Das

5. DW 3/5 Sri Raghunath Prasad Pandey

6. DW 3/6 Sri Sita Ram Yadav

7. DW 3/7 Mahant Ramji Das

8. DW 3/8 Pt. Shyam Sundar Mishra @ Barkau Mahraj

9. DW 3/9 Sri Ram Ashrey Yadav

10. DW 3/11 Sri Bhanu Pratap Singh

11. DW 3/12 Sri Ram Akshaibar Pandey

12. DW 3/13 Mahant Ram Subhag Shashtri

13. DW 3/15 Narendra Bahadur Singh

14. DW 3/16 Sri Shiv Bhikh Singh

15. DW 3/17 Sri Mata Badal Tewari

16. DW 3/18 Sri Acharya Mahant Bansidhar Das @ Uriya Baba

17. DW 3/19 Sri Ram Milan Singh

18. DW 3/20 Mahant Raja Ramchandr-acharya

(II) Others :

19. DW 3/10 Sri Pateshwari Dutt Pandey

20. DW 3/14 Jagad Guru Ramanandacharya Swami Haryacharya

279. (e) Witnesses produced by Defendant 2/1 in Suit-4 :

(I) Witness of facts :

1. DW 2/1-3 Mahant Ram Vilas Das Vedanti

(II) Others :

2. DW 2/1-1 Sri Rajendra.

3. DW 2/1-2 Sri Ram Saran Srivastava

280. (f) Witnesses produced by Defendant 13/1 in Suit-4 :

(I) Expert Witness (Historians) :

1. DW 13/1-3 Dr. Bishan Bahadur

(II) Others :

2. DW 13/1-1 Mahant Dharam Das

3. DW 13/1-2 Mahant Awadh Bihari Das Pathak

281. (g) Witnesses produced by Defendant 17 in Suit-4 :

(I) Witness of facts :

1. DW 17/1 Sri Ramesh Chandra Tripathi

282. (h) Witnesses produced by Defendant 20 in Suit-4 :

(I) Witness of facts :

1. DW 20/1 Sri Shashi Kant Rungta

2. DW 20/4 Sri M.M. Gupta

(II) Expert Witnesses (Religious matters)

3. DW 20/2 Swami Avimukteshwaran and Saraswati

4. DW 20/3 Bramchari Ram Rakshanand

(III) Expert Witness (Archaeologist)

5. DW 20/5 Sri Jayanti Prasad Srivastava

283. (i) Witnesses produced by Defendant 6/1 in Suit-3 :

(I) Expert Witness (Archaeologist) :

1. DW 6/1-2 Sri Mohd. Abid

(II) Others :

2. DW 6/1-1 Sri Haji Mahboob Ahmad.'

Statements under Order X Rule 2 CPC

45. During the course of the hearing of the suit, the Trial Court recorded the statements of parties and their pleaders under the provisions of Order X Rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure 190814 (?CPC?).

142. Oral examination of party, or companion of party- (1) At the first hearing of the suit, the Court-

On 8 August 1962, it was stated on behalf of the Sunni Central Waqf Board that:

'the property in suit is the property dedicated to Almighty God and is a mosque for the use of the entire Muslim community at large...?'

On 28 August 1963, it was stated by the Sunni Central Waqf Board that in the alternative even if the defendants had any right in the property, it stood extinguished by a lapse of time and the plaintiff (Sunni Central Waqf Board) had acquired title by adverse possession.

On 11 January 1996, the statement of Mr Zafaryab Jilani, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the Sunni Central Waqf Board was recorded to the effect that:

'That the mosque was situate on a Nazul Plot No. 583 of the Khasra of 1931 of Mohalla Kot Ramchandra known as Ramkot at Ayodhya.'

On 22 April 2009, the following statement of Mr Zafaryab Jilani, learned Senior Counsel was recorded under Order X Rule 2 of the CPC:

'For the purpose of this case there is no dispute about the faith of Hindu devotees of Lord Rama regarding the birth of Lord Rama at Ayodhya as described in Balmiki Ramayana or as existing today. It is, however, disputed and denied that the site of Babri Masjid was the place of birth of Lord Rama. It is also denied that there was any Ram Janam Bhoomi Temple at the site of Babri Masjid at any time whatsoever. The existence of Nirmohi Akhara from the second half of Nineteenth Century onwards is also not disputed. It is however, denied and disputed that Nirmohi Akhara was in

(a) shall, with a view to elucidating matters in controversy in the suit, examine, orally such of the parties to the suit appearing in person or present in Court, as it deems fit; and

(b) may orally examine any person, able to answer any material question relating to the suit, by whom any party appearing in person or present in Court or his pleader is accompanied.

(2) At any subsequent hearing, the Court may orally examine any party appearing in person or present in Court, or any person, able to answer any material question relating to the suit, by whom such party or his pleader is accompanied.

(3) The Court may, if it thinks fit, put in the course of an examination under this rule questions suggested by either party.

existence and specially in Ayodhya in 16th Century A.D. or in 1528 A.D. and it is also denied that any idols were there in the building of the Babri Masjid up to 22nd December, 1949.'

Similar statements were made on behalf of other counsel representing the Muslim parties. There is, in other words, no dispute before this Court in regard to the faith and belief of the Hindus that the birth of Lord Ram is ascribed to have taken place at Ayodhya, as described in Valmiki‘s Ramayan. What is being disputed is whether the disputed site below the central dome of the Babri Masjid is the place of birth of Lord Ram. The Muslim parties have expressly denied the existence of a Ram Janmabhumi temple at the site of Babri Masjid. With this background, it becomes necessary to advert to the salient aspects of the documentary evidence which has emerged on the record.

D. The aftermath of 1856-7

D.1 Response to the wall

46. In 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. The object of this would have been to maintain peace and due order at the site. The railing provided the genesis of the bifurcation of the inner courtyard (in which the structure of the mosque was situated) and the outer courtyard comprising the remaining area. The setting up of the railing was not a determination of proprietary rights over the inner and outer courtyards, the measure having been adopted to maintain peace between the two communities. This section of the judgment traces the documentary evidence on the aftermath of 1856-7 at the disputed site, the continuing skirmishes in the inner and outer courtyards, the proceedings between various disputants and the claim to worship by the Hindus in the inner courtyard. The evidence is as follows:

(i) On 28 November 1858 a report was submitted by Sheetal Dubey who was the Thanedar, Oudh15. The report spoke of an incident during which Hawan and Puja was organised inside the mosque by a Nihang Sikh who had erected a religious symbol. The report states:

'Today Mr. Nihang Singh Faqir Khalsa resident of Punjab, organized Hawan and Puja of Guru Gobind Singh and erected a symbol of Sri Bhagwan, within the premises of the Masjid. At the time of pitching the symbol, 25 sikhs were posted there for security. Deemed necessary so requested. May your regime progress. Pleasure.'

(ii) An application was submitted by Syed Mohammad Khateeb, Muazzim of the Masjid16. The subject of the application was the report of the Thanedar Oudh. The application stated that ?Mahant Nihang Singh Faqir‘ was creating a riot on ?Janam Sthan Masjid situated in Oudh?. The application stated: ?Near Mehrab and Mimber, he has constructed, inside the case, an earth Chabutra measuring about four fingers by filling it with Kankars (concrete). Lighting arrangement has been made...and after raising the height of Chabutra about 11/4 yards a picture of idol has been placed and after digging a pit near it, the Munder wall has been made Pucca. Fire has been lit there for light and Puja and Hom is continuing there. In whole of this Masjid ?Ram Ram‘ has been written with coal. Kindly, do justice. It is an open tyranny and high handedness of the Hindus on Muslims and not that of Hindus. Previously the symbol of Janamsthan had been there for hundreds of years and Hindus did Puja. Because of conspiracy of Shiv Ghulam Thandedar Oudh Government, the Bairagis constructed overnight a Chabutra up to height of one ?Balisht‘ until the orders of injunction were issued. At that time the Deputy Commissioner suspended the Thanedar and fine was imposed on Bairagis. Now the Chabootra has been raised to about 11/4 yards. Thus sheer high-handedness has been proved. Therefore, it is requested that Murtaza Khan Kotwal City may be ordered that he himself visit the spot and inspect the new constructions and get them demolished (sic) and oust the Hindus from there; the symbol and the idol may be removed from there and writing on the walls be washed.'

The contents of the application indicate that by this time a platform had been constructed inside the mosque in which an idol had been placed. A fire had been lit and arrangements were made for puja. Evidently, the railing did not prevent access to the inner courtyard or to the precincts of the mosque.

(iii) A report was submitted by the Thanedar on 1 December 1858 ?for summoning Nihang Singh Faqir who is residing within the Masjid Janam Sthan17. The report stated that he had taken a summons ?to the said Faqir? and he was admonished, in spite of which he continued to insist that ?every place belonged to Nirankar?;

(iv) A report was submitted by the Thanedar on 6 December 1858 indicating service of the summons18;

(v) There was an application dated 9 April 1860 of 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 land19;

(vi) On 5 November 1860, an application was made to the Deputy Commissioner for the removal of the Chabutra which had been constructed ?within Babri Masjid Oudh?20. The grievance in the application and the relief sought is indicated in this extract:

'Besides, when the Moazzin recites Azaan, the opposite party begins to blow conch (Shankh/Naqoos). This has never happened before. I would pray that your honour is the Judge for both the parties. The opposite party should be restrained from his unlawful act and after proper inquiry the newly constructed Chabootra which had never existed, may kindly be demolished and a bond be got executed from the opposite party to the effect that he will not unlawfully and illegally interfere in the Masjid property and will not blow conch (Shankh/Naqoos) at the time of Azaan.'

(vii) The application would indicate that the namaz was at the stage being performed in the mosque. The Azaan of the Moazzin was met with the blowing of conch shells by the Hindus. A contentious situation was arising. Eventually, the Nihang Sikh was evicted from the site and a record was maintained;

(viii) In or about 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. The Deputy Commissioner declined to entertain a complaint against the opening made in the wall of the Janmasthan21. The order of the Deputy Commissioner records:

'A doorway has recently been opened in the wall of the Janum-Asthan not at all in Baber‘s mosque, but in the wall which in front is divided from the mosque by a railing. This opening was necessary to give a separate route on fair days to visitors to the Janum-Asthan. There was one opening only, so the crush (sic rush) was very great and life was endangered. I marked out the spot for the opening myself so there is no need to depute any Europe officer. This petition is merely an attempt to annoy the Hindu by making it dependent on the pleasure of the mosque people to open or close the 2nd door in which the Mohammedans can have no interest.'

This was accepted by the Commissioner while dismissing an appeal on 13 December 1877 holding:

'As the door in question has opened by the Deputy Commissioner in the interests of the public safety, I decline to interfere. Appeal dismissed.'

(ix) Justice Agarwal has alluded to the above documentary evidence including in particular, the application of the Moazzin dated 30 November 1858.22 The application complained of the construction of a Chabutra near the mihrab and mimbar on which a picture of an idol had been placed. The complaint refers to the worship which was being conducted by lighting a fire and conducting a puja. The letter notes that previously the symbol of the Janmasthan was in existence for hundreds of years and Hindus had performed puja. Justice Agarwal has noted that the genuineness of this document has not been disputed by the plaintiff in the suit or of it having been written by a person whose identity was not disputed. The learned Judge held that the document contains admissions which prove that Hindus had continuously offered prayers inside the disputed building including the inner courtyard and at Ramchabutra and Sita Rasoi in the outer courtyard. However, during the course of the proceedings Mr Mohd. Nizamuddin Pasha, learned counsel for the plaintiffs in Suit 4 has challenged the translation of the exhibit;

(x) Mohd Asghar instituted Suit 374/943 of 188223 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 in 1288 Fasli. The Sub-Judge, Faizabad dismissed the suit on 18 June 1883;

(xi) The construction of a railing in 1856-7 to provide a measure of separation between the inner and outer courtyards led to the construction of a platform by the Hindus in close proximity to the railing, in the outer courtyard. The platform, called Ramchabutra, became a place of worship for the Hindus;

(xii) On 29 January 1885, a suit was instituted in the court of the Munsif, Faizabad by Mahant Raghubar Das, describing himself as ?Mahant Janmasthan at Ayodhya?. The sole defendant was the Secretary of State for India in Council24. 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 17x21 feet. The plaint stated that the Janmasthan at Ayodhya is a place of religious importance and the plaintiff is a Mahant of the place. Charan Paduka was affixed on the Chabutra and a small temple built next to it was worshipped. The plaintiff 23 24 Exhibit The certified 24 copy of the plaint is Exhibit A-22 in Suit 1 stated that in April 1883, the Deputy Commissioner, Faizabad acting on the objection of the Muslims, obstructed the construction of a temple. A map was appended with the plaint showing the three domed structure described as ?Masjid? within a boundary railing. The map appended to the plaint indicated two entrances to the outer courtyard on the Northern and Eastern sides. Mohd Asghar as Mutawalli of the mosque was impleaded as second defendant to the suit. He filed a written statement on 22 December 1885 stating that Babur had created a waqf by constructing a Masjid and above the door, the word ?Allah‘ was inscribed. Babur was also stated to have declared a grant for its maintenance. Mohd Asghar pleaded that no permission had been granted for the use of the land in the compound of the mosque. It was averred that there was no Chabutra from the date of the construction of the mosque until 1856 and it was only constructed in 1857. The prayer for the construction of a temple was opposed; and

The above suit was dismissed by the Sub-Judge on 24 December 1885. The Trial Court held that:

(a) The Chabutra was in possession of the plaintiff, which had not been disputed by the second defendant;

(b) The area was divided by a railing wall separating the domed structure from the outer courtyard where the Chabutra existed to prevent any dispute between Hindus and Muslims;

(c) The erection of a railing was necessitated due to the riot in 1885 between Hindus and Muslims;

(d) The divide was made to so that Muslims could offer prayers inside and the Hindus outside;

(e) 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

(f) 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.

Against the decree of the Trial Court, an appeal was filed by Mahant Raghubar Das while cross-objections were filed by Mohd Asghar. The District Judge by a judgment dated 18/26 March 1886 dismissed the appeal of the plaintiff. The District Judge held that 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. The suit was dismissed on the ground that there was no injury which could give a right of action to the plaintiff. On the cross-objections of Mohd Asghar, the District Judge held that the finding of the Trial Court that the plaintiff was the owner of the land in dispute was redundant and should be expunged.

The second appeal was dismissed by the Judicial Commissioner of Oudh on 1 November 1886 on the ground that (i) there was nothing on record to show that the plaintiff was the proprietor of the land in question; and (ii) it was inappropriate to allow the parties to disturb the status quo especially when a mosque had been in existence for nearly 350 years. The Judicial Commissioner held:

'The matter is simply that the Hindus of Ajodhya want to create a new temple or marble baldacchino over the supposed holy spot in Ajodhya said to be the birthplace of Shri Ram Chandar. Now this spot is situated within the precinct of the grounds surrounding a mosque erected some 350 years ago owing to the bigotry and tyranny of the Emperor Babur, who purposely chose this holy spot according to Hindu legend as the site of his mosque. The Hindus seem to have got very limited rights of access to certain spots within the precincts adjoining the mosque and they have for a series of years been persistently trying to increase those rights and to erect buildings on two spots in the enclosure:

(a) Sita ki Rasoi

(b) Ram Chandar ki Janam Bhumi. The Executive authorities have persistently refused these encroachments and absolutely forbid any alteration of the 'status quo‘.

I think this is a very wise and proper procedure on their part and I am further of opinion that the Civil Courts have properly dismissed the Plaintiff‘s claim.?

The issue as to whether the findings in the suit will operate as res judicata will be dealt with in a subsequent segment of the judgment.

The conflagration which took place in 1855-56 resulted in a brick wall and railing being put up outside the mosque. This divided the courtyard into an inner portion which lay within the railing and the outer portion beyond it. Situated in the outer portion were places worshipped by the Hindus, among them being Ramchabutra and Sita Rasoi. Two entrance gates (on the north and east) provided access to the outer courtyard. Entry to the mosque was through the access points to the outer courtyard.

D.2 Period between 1934-1949

47. In 1934, there was another communal incident in the course of which damage was sustained to the mosque which was subsequently restored. The documentary evidence which has been brought on record shows that :

(i) The colonial administration sanctioned the work of repair and renovation of the damaged structure of the mosque;

(ii) A fine was imposed on the Hindus for the damage which was caused to the mosque;

(iii) The work of restoration was entrusted to a Muslim contractor with whom there was an exchange of correspondence over the payment of unpaid bills and for verification of work done;

(iv) This was a claim by the Pesh Imam of the mosque over the payment of the arrears of salary with the Mutawalli; and

(v) Upon the work of repair, the administration permitted arrangements to be made for commencement of namaz.

(In Suit 4, Dr Rajeev Dhavan and Mr Zafaryab Jilani have relied upon this documentary evidence as indicative of the status of the mosque and of the performance of namaz).

48. A series of incidents took place between March and December 1949. On 19 March 1949, a deed was executed by the Panches of Nirmohi Akhara purportedly to reduce into writing the customs of the Akhara. This document included the following provision in regard to ?the temple of Janmabhoomi? of which the management was claimed to vest in the Akhara:

'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.'

49. During the course of his arguments, Dr Rajeev Dhavan, learned Senior Counsel for the plaintiffs in Suit 4 urged that the communications exchanged between the officials of the State of Uttar Pradesh demonstrate that they had prior information about a carefully planned course of action of placing idols inside the mosque which led to the desecration of the mosque. Despite this, it has been submitted, the administration took no steps to prevent such an incident from taking place. Hence, in this backdrop, it is necessary to set out the events that led to the incident which took place on 22-23 December 1949:

(i) On 12 November 1949, a police picket was posted in the area;

(ii) On 29 November 1949, Kripal Singh who was the Superintendent of Police at Faizabad addressed a letter to K 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 existing there.'

I found bricks and lime also lying near the Janm Asthan. They have a proposal to construct a very big Havan Kund where Kirtan and Yagna on Puranmashi will be performed on a very large scale. Several thousand Hindus, Bairagis and Sadhus from outside will also participate. They also intend to continue the present Kirtan till Puranmashi. The plan appears to be to surround the mosque in such a way that entry for the Muslims will be very difficult and ultimately they might be forced to abandon the mosque. There is a strong rumour, that on puranmashi the Hindus will try to force entry into the mosque with the object of installing a deity.? (Emphasis supplied)

(iii) On 10 December 1949, 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:

'On investigation in Faizabad city it was revealed that because of the fear of Hindus and Sikhs no one goes into the Masjid to pray Namaz Isha. If by chance any passenger stays in the Masjid he is being threatened and teased by the Hindus ... (sic)..... There are number of Numberdars ... (sic)..... if any Muslim into the Masjid, he is harassed and abused. I made on the spot enquires which reveal that the said allegations are correct. Local people stated that the Masjid is in great danger because of Hindus ... (sic)..... Before they try to damage the wall of the Masjid, it seems proper the Deputy Commissioner Faizabad may be accordingly informed , so that no Muslim, going into the Masjid may be teased. The Masjid is a Shahi monument and it should be preserved.'

(iv) On 16 December 1949, K 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 for the construction of a mosque, known as Babri Masjid. The letter stated that building material of the temple was used in the construction of the mosque and that a long time had elapsed before Hindus were again restored to the possession of a site therein, at the corner of two walls. The letter recorded a reference to recent happenings and stated:

'Some time this year probably in October or November some grave-mounds were partially destroyed apparently by Bairagis who very keenly resent Muslim associations with this shrine. On 12.11.49 a police picket was posted at this place. The picket still continues in augmented strength. There were since other attempts to destroy grave-mounds. Four persons were caught and cases are proceeding against them but for quite some time now there have been no attempts. Muslims, mostly of Faizabad have been exaggerating these happenings and giving currency to the report that graves are being demolished systematically on a large scale. This is an entirely false canard inspired apparently by a desire to prevent Hindus from securing in this area possession or rights of a larger character than have so far been enjoyed. Muslim anxiety on this score was heightened by the recent Navami Ramayan Path, a devotional reading of Ramayan by thousands of Hindus for nine days at a stretch. This period covered a Friday on which Muslims who went to say their prayers at the mosque were escorted to and from safely by the Police.

As far as I have been able to understand the situation the Muslims of Ayodhya proper are far from agitated over this issue with the exception of one Anisur Rahman who frequently sends frantic messages giving the impression that the Babri Masjid and graves are in imminent danger of demolition.'

Nayyar saw no apprehension of danger to the mosque in spite of the letter of the Superintendent of Police which contained specific reference to the plans which were afoot to enter the mosque and install idols within its precincts;

(v) On the night between 22-23 December 1949, 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 FIR, complaining of offences under Sections 147, 295, 448 of the Indian Penal Code was lodged at 7:00 pm on 23 December 1949 by Ram Deo Dubey, Sub-Inspector in charge. The FIR recorded that on information received from Mata Prasad, Constable No. 7, the complainant had arrived at the disputed site at 7:00 am and learned that a crowd of 50 or 60 persons had broken the locks placed on the compound of the mosque and had placed the idols inside, besides inscribing the names of Hindu deities on the walls. Thereafter, 5000 people had gathered to perform Kirtan. It was alleged that Abhay Ram Das, Ram Shukul Das, Sheo Darshan Dass and about 50 or 60 persons had committed an act of trespass by entering the mosque and installing idols, thereby desecrating the mosque.

The judgment of Justice S U Khan contains a reference to the report/diary of the District Magistrate stating that on 23 December 1949, the crowd was controlled by allowing two or three persons to offer bhog;

(vi) K K Nayyar opposed the direction of the state government to remove the idols, fearing a loss of life. On 25 December 1949, K K Nayar recorded that puja and bhog was offered as usual. In spite of the directions to remove the idols, K K Nayar declined to do so stating that ?if Government still insisted that removal should be carried out in the face of these facts, I would request to replace me by another officer?;

(vii) K K Nayar addressed two letters on 26 and 27 December 1949 to Bhagwan Sahai, Chief Secretary, Government of U.P. stating that the incident that took place on 23 December 1949 was ?unpredictable and irreversible? on the basis of the above narration of incidents. On the basis of the above documentary material, Dr Dhavan, learned Senior Counsel submitted that:

(a) There was a mosque at the disputed site;

(b) The state authorities acknowledged the structure as a mosque and consistently referred to it as a mosque in their internal communications;

(c) From the report of the Waqf commissioner dated 10 December 1949, the following points emerge:

'(a) The temple of the Hindus was outside the courtyard Namaz was being read in the Babri Mosque as it refers to the Muslim worshippers being harassed by the members of the Hindu Community;'

(d) The state authorities acknowledged the threat posed by the members of the Hindu Community to the mosque and to the people going to pray;

(e) The state authorities could foresee the potential desecration / attack to the mosque and the worshippers, but took no steps to avert such an incident;

(f) From the internal communication of the officials of the state, it is clear that the desecration of the mosque was planned as the Superintendent of Police had informed the Deputy Commissioner of

(g) the plan of the Hindus to force entry into the mosque with the intention of installing an idol;

(h) The desecration of December 22-23, 1949 was a planned attack, the seeds for which were sown with the ?customs deed‘ dated March 19, 1949 when the temple of Ram Janmabhumi was for the first time mentioned; and

(i) Officials of the state refused to thereafter remove the surreptitiously installed idols despite orders from the State Government, further confirming their alliance with the miscreants who desecrated the mosque.

E. Proceedings under Section 145

50. On 29 December 1949, a preliminary order was issued under Section 145 of the CrPC 1898 by the Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad cum Ayodhya. Simultaneously, treating the situation as involving an emergency, an order of attachment was issued and the disputed site was directed to be entrusted to Sri Priya Datt Ram who was the Chairman of the Municipal Board. The order dated 29 December 1949 is extracted below:

'Whereas I, Markendeya Singh, Magistrate First Class and Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya, am fully satisfied from information received from Police sources and from other credible sources that a dispute between Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya over the question of rights of proprietorship and worship in the building claimed variously as Babari Masjid and Janam Bhoomi Mandir, situate at Mohalla Ram Kot within the local limits of my jurisdiction, is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

I hereby direct the parties described below namely:

(1) Muslims who are bona fide residents of Ayodhya or who claim rights of proprietorship or worship in the property in dispute;

(2) Hindus who are bona fide residents of Ahodhya or who claim rights of proprietorship or worship in the property in dispute; to appear before me on 17th day of January at 11 A.M. at Ayodhya Police Station in person or by pleader and put in written statements of their respective claims with regard to the fact of actual possession of the subject of dispute.

And the case being one of the emergency I hereby attach the said buildings pending decision.

The attachment shall be carried out immediately by Station Officer, Ayodhya Police Station, who shall then put the attached properties in the charge of Sri Priya Datt Ram, Chairman Municipal Board, Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya who shall thereafter be the receiver thereof and shall arrange for the care of the property in dispute.

The receiver shall submit for approval a scheme for management of the property in dispute during attachment, and the cost of management shall be defrayed by the parties to this dispute in such proportions as may be fixed from time to time. This order shall, in the absence of information regarding the actual names and addresses of the parties to dispute to be served by publication in:

1. The English Daily, 'The Leader' Allahabad, 2. The Urdu Weekly ?Akhtar? Faizabad 3. The Hindi Weekly 'Virakta' Ayodhya.

Copies of this order shall also be affixed to the walls of the buildings in dispute and to the notice board at Ayodhya Police Station.

Given under my hand and the seal of the court on this the twenty ninth day of December, 1949 at Ayodhya.'

51. The receiver took charge on 5 January 1950 and made an inventory of the properties which had been attached. The last namaz which was offered in the mosque was on 16 December 1949. The receiver made an inventory of the following articles:

1. Idols of Thakur Ji

1-(a) Two idols of Sri Ram Lala Ji, one big and another small.

(b) Six idols of Sri Shaligram Ji.

2 . A two feet high silver throne.

3. One idol of Hanuman Ji.

4 (a) One glass of German Silver.

(b) One small glass of silver.

(c) One big glass of silver

5. One Garun bell.

6. One incensory.

7. One Arti vessel.

8. One lamp stand

9. ?Husra? and one sandal.

10. Two big photographs of Ram Janki.

11. Four flower pots.

12. One (small) photograph of Badrinath Ji.

13. One small photograph of Ramchandra Ji.

14. Ornaments of Deity

Two caps of Ramlala and one cap of Hanuman Ji. And eight robes of Deity.

15. Building- Three domed building with Courtyard and boundary wall, which is bounded as under.

North-Premises comprising Chhathi Courtyard and Nirmohi Akhara. South-Vacant land and 'Parikrama' (circumambulation path) East- ?Chabutara‘ (platform) of Ram temple under possession of Nirmohi Akhara, and Courtyard of temple premises. West-Parikrama‘ (circumambulation path)

16. Small brass glass

17. One bowl of ?Phool? (an alloy) for sandal.

18. 'Panch Pas' and one brass plate.