M SIDDIQ (D) THR LRS. VS MAHANT SURESH DAS & ORS.

Equivalent Citation: (2020) 1 SCC 1

Date of Judgement: November 9, 2019.

Court: Supreme Court.

Case Number: 10866-10867 of 2010.

Case Type: Civil Appeal.

Petitioner: M Siddiq (deceased).

Respondent: Mahant Suresh Das & Ors.

Bench: Ranjan Gogoi, D.Y.Chandrachud, S.A.Bobde, S.A.Nazeer, Ashok Bhushan.

Common Name: Ayodhya Land Dispute Case, Ram Janam Bhoomi Case Or Ram Mandir Case.

FACTS:

  1. The religious and cultural disagreement between Muslims and Hindus stems from a holy site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, which Hindus claim is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
  1. On this disputed territory, the 16th-century mosque known as the Babri Masjid was constructed during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Babur. The mosque’s elaborate architecture represented the period’s cultural syncretism.
  1. After fighting between Muslims and Hindus (1856–1857) intensified around a building, the colonial authorities divided the area in two, giving Muslims the outer portion and Hindus the inner portion because of Hindu symbols. The British government also mandated that Hindus supervise the door construction on the north side.
  1. Requesting permission to build a temple, Mahant Raghubir Das filed an application with the Faizabad district court.
  1. A group of roughly fifty to sixty people desecrated the mosque on the evening of December 22–23, 1949, changing the course of events. After riots and the implementation of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which forbids the gathering of more than four people in a public space, it even broke the mosque’s locks and positioned Lord Ram’s idols in the central dome.
  1. However, in 1986, the District Judge of Faizabad Court opened the gates and permitted the Hindu community to worship there. The case was transferred to the Allahabad High Court in 1989 from the Faizabad Civil Court.
  1.  On December 6, 1992, the mosque at Babri was destroyed by the Karsewaks.
  1. The Allahabad High Court awarded a judgement in 2010 dividing disputed land into three equal parts and allotting it to the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara, and Hindu parties.The High Court’s decision did not satisfy the parties.They each filed appeals and special leave petitions with the Supreme Court.
  1. The Hindu community claims that the Ram Janam Bhoomi was constructed after the Mughals destroyed it during their conquest of India.On the other hand, the Muslims claimed that Babur’s general, Mir Qasim, followed Babur’s orders and built the mosque on an undeveloped plot of land.
  1. However, the Muslim community did not dispute the existence of Ram Janam Bhoomi. All they said was that the Hindu community had not made any proprietary claims.
  2. The Nirmohi Akhara asserts that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Shebat(A Shebait is the person who manages the Deity’s business and serves as the Deity’s personal attendant).
  1. The Sunni Board’s main defence was that there had never been any gods in the area before the statues were erected in 1949. They claimed that, right up until 1949, they regularly prayed in the mosque. Since they have been using the contested property for a long time, they would gain more.
  1. However, the Hindu community claimed that after Babur invaded their region, which is now known as India, he destroyed many temples, including the temple at Ayodhya. After establishing a constitutional system of just governance and forcing the Hindu community to endure the violence of their invasion, it was only reasonable to make amends for past wrongs.
  1. They said that the title to the land was still held, having been in force since the eleventh century. Evidence was presented, one of which was a 1928 copy of the Faizabad Gazette. This gazette acknowledged the destruction of the ancient Ram Janam Bhoomi shrine by the Mughal emperor Babur.
  1. The Kasauti Pillar and other ruins of the destroyed temple were used to construct the mosque.Devotees continued to pray to Lord Ram using a variety of symbols, including Sita Rasoi, even after it was destroyed.
  1. In order to speak for the Lord himself rather than his disciples, the legal action taken on the deity’s behalf was essential. He would give their interests precedence over Lord Ram’s.

ISSUE RAISED:

  1. Is Ram Janmabhoomi, the site of Ram’s birth, a legitimate entity that exists regardless of the presence of idols? And as a legal entity, is it protected from claims of possession if this is the case?
  2. Is the Allahabad High Court’s division of the land title of Ayodhya between the three suits filed by Nirmohi Akhada, the Sunni Waqf Board, and Ram Lalla legitimate?
  • Do the three lawsuits have a chance of success, and are they not prohibited by the Limitations Act of 1908?

CONTENTIONS:

Appellants Side:

  1. No idols were discovered on the grounds of the mosque prior to their secret transportation within the Babri Masjid between December 22 and 23, 1949. The declaration disapproved of the notion of an Asthana or governing deity.
  1. Both the Friday prayers and the regular prayers were held on the mosque’s grounds until December 16 and December 22, 1949, respectively.
  1. The British government continued the Mughal monarchs’ tradition of providing funding for the masjid’s upkeep and operations
  2. The Hindu temple of Janmasthan is at the centre of the dispute; it was located in the courtyard, but the Muslims performed their namaz inside the mosque’s walls.
  3. The contested location has long been a mosque used for collective prayer, making it a waqf. Since namaz was said there from the mosque’s construction in 1528 until its desecration in December 1949, the disputed area has been used as a place of prayer.

Respondents side:

  1. Since the Indian Constitution was enacted, the Mughals’ crimes are now accountable, and they need to be made right. Babur’s invasion of India destroyed thousands of temples, including the one at this location. Since invaders ruled over India, Hindus were unable to exercise their rights.
  1. According to evidence and the ASI report, in the 12th century, there was a temple.
  1. The saints’ 12th-century legal name is still enforceable today because a god’s property is indisputable.
  1. There has never been, and never could be, a valid waqf. It has been reported that Hindus kept the area under their control even after Muslims periodically invaded.
  1. The Faizabad Gazetteer from 1928 states that a mosque was constructed using the Kasauti pillars and other ruins of the destroyed temple.
  1. Mosques cannot be built on the foundations of former houses of worship, according to Islamic law. The Babri Masjid cannot be regarded as a mosque.

RATIONALE:

The court emphasised that the British government had recognized and supported the Hindu community. This relief resulted from the installation of Lord Ram sculptures in 1873. The Court then discussed the issue of adverse possession. Above all, adverse possession refers to the idea that someone who does not have title to land can still obtain it through continuous habitation. The Court believes that any adverse possession charge results from both the facts and the law, not just the law.

Since the Muslim community was unable to produce any proof of possession of the disputed area between 1528 and 1860, they were unable to satisfy the requirements of adverse possession. Consequently, they were unable to claim it.

The Court proceeded by referring to the landmark ruling in Ismail Faruqui, wherein the highest court determined that mosques were not a necessary element of the Islamic faith.

The Court continued to address the core principles of religious secularism by citing another important decision from the Supreme Court. A statement claims that India’s secularism extends beyond simple religious tolerance. It also actively strives to ensure that all religions are treated equally. The court found that the rights of the Muslim community had been severely violated. They maintained that the demolishing of the Babri Mosque was an infringement on the rule of law and that this violation needed to be made good, whatever the means.

The Hindu community claimed that Ram Janam Bhoomi is thought to be situated in the disputed territory. The Court proceeded with its investigation after receiving reports from the Archaeological Survey of India, which asserted that the Babri Masjid is not built on a piece of undeveloped land but that there was a temple in the 12th century. Furthermore, the Hindu community continued to hold religious ceremonies at the line, refusing to acknowledge it in the face of frequent rioting. The Hindus gained the title by establishing an unbroken, constant state of devotion.

The court held that 2.77 acres of the disputed land should be given to Hindus and 5 acres of land at another place should be given to Muslims in order to support the nation’s religious dedication to its citizens and to make up for the loss incurred by the Muslim community as a result of the mosque’s unlawful destruction.

DEFECTS OF LAW:

There is a need to amend the Waqf Property Act to prevent the awarding of Waqf property (a plot of land designated as a public mosque) to those who feel wronged. Waqf property is protected by the Constitution’s principle of justice. It is incorrect to deny access to historically owned property due to illegal construction, even after years of legal process.

INFERENCE:

In Indian legal history, the Ram Mandir case continues to be a turning point. In addition, it was one of the larger rulings because the Supreme Court combined five earlier lawsuits that had been brought before lower courts to produce a single decision.

Mahant Raghubar Das filed the first lawsuit , which aimed to construct a temple in the property’s exterior courtyard. The argument to uphold social harmony and legal order was dismissed by the court. This court’s ruling was more deceptive than it initially appeared. The Civil Court, a crucial component in the formation of British India, did not attempt to settle the dispute. The plaintiffs were content with the outer courtyard because they believed, based on religious texts, that it was the precise location of Lord Rama’s birth. However, the situation could have been better if the disputed land had been divided among the parties at the time. However, the court upheld the British policy of “divide and rule,” allowing the conflict between Muslims and Hindus to grow.

In the middle of the ongoing riots over the land, both parties filed a second lawsuit. The contested property for both parties must be locked, per the Faizabad Civil Court’s order. This was a very wise decision because taking any other course of action would have made the already delicate situation worse for all parties involved.

However, the Hindus were permitted to open the gate and worship the idols in 1986 by the Faizabad District Judge. The Karsevaks’ 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid was a result of this court decision gone wrong.

The Allahabad High Court was involved in three suits by Nirmohi Akhara, UP Sunni Central Board of Waqf, and Lord Ram for the declaration, maintenance, and possession of a disputed land site. The court began hearing the case in 2002 and concluded in 2010, dividing the land into three parts: Ram Lalla idol site to Ram Lalla’s party, Sita Rasoi and Ram chabutra site to Nirmohi Akhara, and the rest to the Waqf board. Once more, the court was attempting to evade reality, render a sensible ruling that did not appease any party, and do nothing to address the problem. The parties moved to the Supreme Court to appeal the court’s decision because they were unhappy with it.

The Supreme Court’s November 2019 verdict on the Hindu-Muslim temple dispute has sparked debate. Some argue it unfairly burdened the Muslim community, as Hindu texts and Babur’s memoirs do not mention the temple’s existence. Others argue it was a well-balanced decision, providing a remedy for wrongful harm to worship rights. Despite the controversy, the judgement has been deemed the best solution, as it affects the religious sentiments of around 85% of Indians.

REFERENCES:

  1. LegalVidhiya, https://legalvidhiya.com/m-siddiq-d-thr-lrs-vs-mahant-suresh-das-ayodhya-dispute-case/ (last visited Nov 18,2023).
  • Yash Jain,

TheAmikusQriae, https://theamikusqriae.com/m-siddiq-d-thr-lrs-vs-mahant-suresh-das-ors/ (last visited Nov 18, 2023).

  • Maitreyi Shishir,

LawEssential, https://lawessential.com/all-blogs/f/m-siddiq-d-thr-lrs-v-mahant-suresh-das-ors?blogcategory=Case+Comments (last visited Nov 18, 2023).

  • M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs. vs Mahant Suresh Das & Ors, (2020) 1 SCC 1.

SUBMITTED BY:

PIYUSH SHIVHARE

BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY.

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